Influential gun control advocate Mark Glaze dies at 51

Mark Glaze, who was widely regarded as a founding figure of the modern gun control movement, died on October 31 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was 51 years old.

Erika Soto Lamb, a friend and former colleague of the Everytown for Gun Safety organization, of which Mr. Glaze was a former executive director, said her death was a suicide. Mr. Glaze had been in the Lackawanna County Jail since his arrest for impaired driving in September.

Mr. Glaze was already a veteran political organizer in January 2011 when he joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization founded by Michael R. Bloomberg and more than a dozen other mayors. He worked for the organization part-time, as a consultant on loan from Raben Group, a public affairs company.

Gun violence at the time was one of those problems Washington insiders compared to the weather: something everyone was talking about but no one did anything to change. The National Rifle Association was in control, cajoling even moderate Democrats into opposing any efforts to regulate guns.

A decade later, gun violence is a winning problem for many state and local governments, the NRA is in tatters, and Congress is increasingly willing to stand up for gun safety – a drastic shift many attribute to Mr. Glaze’s tireless organization and brilliant strategy.

“Mark was unquestionably one of the architects of the gun safety movement,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a telephone interview.

The changes occurred over several years amid a series of high-profile mass shootings. It began days after Mr Glaze joined the organization, when a gunman shot 19 people in a parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and injuring 13, including Representative Gabby Giffords.

Then, on December 14, 2012, a gunman killed 26 people, most of them children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Newtown was a tragedy, but as Mr. Glaze immediately recognized, it was also an opportunity to act. The White House too: President Barack Obama has promised to put “everything I have” into passing substantial gun control legislation.

Based on a plan provided by Mr. Glaze, the White House has called for a renewed ban on assault weapons, expanded background checks and other measures. But over the next few months, despite broad public support, the bill was cut down by senators from both parties who faced relentless pressure from the NRA.

In April, even a watered-down measure to improve background checks failed to cross the 60-vote threshold needed to defeat a filibuster.

It was a crushing defeat for Mr. Obama and the gun control movement, but Mr. Glaze saw a silver lining. He understood what to do: he had to beat the NRA at his own game. Rather than focus on Washington and wait for a mass shootout to spark interest in gun control, he would leave. grassroots and would create a campaign of permanent pressure on politicians at all levels, from the White House to town halls.

“For a generation, they’ve had this area to themselves,” he said of the NRA in a 2013 interview with The Wall Street Journal. “There really was nothing on the other side in terms of grassroots strength, intensity most days or support on election day.”

He resigned from the Raben group to work full time for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It hired dozens of staff and more than doubled the number of mayors endorsing the organization. He rallied local activists and lobbied Democrats in the Purple and Red states, who are often the most susceptible to pressure from the NRA. And he made a face for the movement, going on TV talk shows and talking to any reporter who wanted to listen to him.

“Mark was someone who could both sit down with victims and survivors of gun violence while operating at the political level and working with lawmakers to change the politics of the issue,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, an anti-gun company. violence group created by Mrs. Giffords.

Mr. Glaze, who was gay, was particularly inspired by the same-sex marriage movement, which had for decades pushed for state-level and local-level change before attacking Congress and the Court. supreme.

“We felt keenly that there were issues where Congress was the curtain-raiser, and others where it was a final,” Feinblatt said.

Mr. Glaze also drew on the story of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which rallied women activists to push for tougher drink driving laws. He looked for allies among the growing number of mothers who were leading a similar accusation against guns.

In 2014, Mayors Against Illegal Guns merged with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to form Everytown for Gun Safety. Both organizations had received significant financial support from Mr Bloomberg.

Mr. Glaze left Everytown a few months later to open his own consulting firm, but he continued to devote much of his time to gun safety. He helped found the Guns Down group and was a consultant for Giffords and the organization Brady: United Against Gun Violence.

“He was very attached to not letting things slide with elected officials or the big companies that profit from guns,” Alexis Confer, executive director of March for Our Lives, an anti-gun violence group, said during a telephone interview.

By the time of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida in February 2018, in which a gunman killed 17 people and injured 17 others, the landscape had fundamentally changed. The problem spread to the streets, with protests and boycotts from companies dealing with the NRA, as well as civil lawsuits that rocked the gun lobby.

While Mr. Glaze never claimed credit, other activists have said the change wouldn’t have happened without him.

“These successes would not have been possible without leaders like Mark who worked to correct the failure of the movement in the wake of the Newtown votes,” said Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down, in a telephone interview. .

Mark Charles Glaze was born October 21, 1970 in Pueblo, Colorado. His father, Charles Glaze, owned a gun store and was in the NRA; his mother, Nancy Green, was a housewife.

“If you had told me when I was growing up in the mountains of Colorado shooting guns on weekends with an NRA member and arms dealer dad, the Wall Street Journal would call me the face of the movement. gun control, I’m not sure I believed you, ”Glaze said in a video he made for Colorado College, his alma mater.

Mr. Glaze graduated from Colorado College in 1992 with a degree in political economy and received a law degree from George Washington University in 1996. After graduating in law, he worked for a number of reform organizations. campaign financing before joining the Raben group.

He is survived by his son Archer.

Mr. Glaze had a long history of battling drug addiction and depression. His arrest came after he fled the scene of a car accident.

Gun control may have been his heritage and his passion, but Mr Glaze said it was something he had just “stumbled upon” in the midst of his work on issues such as labor unions. teachers, gay rights and international human rights.

“The work I love to do,” he said in the Colorado College video, “involves big problem campaigns where you try to change public policy for the better, and those campaigns involve a lot of moving elements. . “

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at

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