November 9, 2016 — In the midst of perhaps the most unexpected election results in American political history are real victories by gun violence prevention advocates.
First, in New Hampshire, in a rejection of her votes against expanding background checks for gun sales, we defeated Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte’s loss is a cautionary tale for those who might think the voters aren’t paying attention and that candidates won’t be held accountable when they vote against gun safety. Details of our aggressive program to unseat Ayotte and elect Governor Maggie Hassan are below.
Second, gun safety polices won at the polls via ballot initiative in California, Washington State, and Nevada. California easily passed new laws instituting background checks on ammunition, among other policies. Prop 63 was endorsed by ARS and written by our charitable arm, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In Washington, ARS partner, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, easily passed an innovative Extreme Risk Protection Order law, which will temporarily restrain access to guns by those in crisis. We donated heavily to the effort. In Nevada, voters approved Question 1, which institutes universal background checks, making it the seventh state to do so since Sandy Hook. Congresswoman Giffords stumped for the measure in the waning days of the hard fought campaign.
Third, voters continue to support stronger gun laws and reject the argument that doing more to prevent gun violence runs contrary to the Second Amendment. In a nationwide exit survey, more than half (53%) of voters want stronger gun laws, including nearly half of independent voters (47%) and exactly half (50%) of voters who do not have a college degree. Only ten percent of voters said they want weaker gun laws. And in New Hampshire, where preventing gun violence became a much debated issue in the campaign, 6 in 10 support stronger gun laws.
And contrary to popular rhetoric, those on the side of gun violence prevention did not suffer from the much hyped “enthusiasm gap.” Among those voters who believe a candidate’s position on gun laws is very important when deciding who they will vote for, 54 percent want stronger gun laws. Only 44 percent of those voters want gun laws kept as they are now or less strong.
STATEMENT FROM AMERICANS FOR RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS PAC CO-FOUNDERS GABRIELLE GIFFORDS AND MARK KELLY
Gabby often says, ‘We must never stop fighting.’ That’s never been more true than it is today. Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we have enacted laws and policies, stopped bad ones, and brought our message of responsible gun laws from coast to coast. But most importantly, we have built a powerful movement that did not exist only four years ago. Our collective job is to sustain and grow that movement.
We founded Americans for Responsible Solutions in the hopes that we could save lives, especially kids’, by bringing Americans together around responsible, commonsense gun safety policies – Democrats, Republicans, gun owners like us, everyone. Often, we’ve succeeded; sometimes we haven’t. That goal does not change with Donald Trump in the White House. We will work to bring Democrats and Republicans, in Congress and state legislatures, together to enact good policy and stop legislation that would threaten our safety.
We also commit to keeping an open mind and working with our next president, Donald J. Trump to make our country a safer place to live. President-elect Trump won, and he now has the opportunity to lead our nation. We want him, and our country, to succeed in making our communities safer. We want our country to begin to heal its divisions after this bitter election season, to restore the bonds that tie all of us Americans together, and to move forward. We are hopeful that President-elect Trump will offer a vision for his presidency that’s inclusive of all Americans and allows us to reconcile as a nation.
We also want to congratulate Governor Maggie Hassan on her victory in New Hampshire. Over three years ago, we committed to holding Senator Ayotte accountable for her vote against expanding background checks for gun sales. Today, she’s a cautionary tale for politicians who might choose to side with the gun lobby and against their constituents.
BACKGROUND ON AMERICANS FOR RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS PAC’S SUPPORT OF MAGGIE HASSAN’S CAMPAIGN AND WORK TO HOLD KELLY AYOTTE ACCOUNTABLE
Endorsement of Maggie Hassan: In May, ARS PAC endorsed Democratic challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan as a Champion for the Vocal Majority for her commitment to lifesaving policies like background checks for all gun sales. It was ARS PAC’s first endorsement of 2016.
Over $2.6 Million Paid Media Campaign to Hold Ayotte Accountable: ARS PAC’s aggressive seven-figure paid media campaign featured a total of three television advertisements (“Tick Tock”, “Safety,” and “Mislead,”), as well as digital ads, to hold Ayotte accountable for her record of voting to protect loopholes in federal law that let dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers buy guns without a criminal background check in unlicensed sales at gun shows and through the internet. Click hereto read a memo on Senator Ayotte’s record of voting against requiring criminal background checks for more gun sales.
Giffords, Kelly, and Their “Vocal Majority Tour” Come to New Hampshire: On October 13th, Co-Founder Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords visited New Hampshire as part ofthe 16-state, 42-day national bus tour, the Vocal Majority Tour. She and Captain Kelly returned to the state on November 7th as part of their ongoing tour to elect Champions for the Vocal Majority of Americans who want responsible change that reduce gun violence, and to encourage Americans to vote to stop gun violence this election.
“Granite State Majority” Grassroots Campaign: ARS PAC also partnered with Granite State Progress to launch a grassroots campaign, the “Granite State Majority,” which included a coalition of grassroots leaders from across New Hampshire who attended Sen. Ayotte’s public events to hold her accountable for standing with the Washington gun lobby.