Press Release

Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly & Arizona Leaders Announce Bipartisan “Arizona Coalition for Common Sense” to Reduce Gun Violence

March 16, 2017 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), will join with Arizona leaders today in Phoenix to announce a new bipartisan coalition, the “Arizona Coalition for Common Sense.” The coalition’s members – which include gun owners, veterans, law enforcement officials, domestic violence prevention advocates, educators, faith leaders and business leaders – will urge their elected officials to advance policies that help keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage – the courage to do what’s right, the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Congresswoman Giffords in a speech at this morning’s announcement. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

“Gabby and I are honored to join with so many leaders from across Arizona to fight for some commonsense change and safer communities,” said Captain Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut. “Our nation’s gun violence problem is tearing apart our communities and devastating our families. We have to do better. We can – and we must. We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: ‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.’ It’s true. And that’s exactly why our leaders need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners like Gabby and me. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

The Arizona Coalition for Common Sense will fight for solutions that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, like:

  • Closing the loopholes in our gun laws that let felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns in Arizona without a background check;
  • Protecting women and families by making sure that domestic abusers don’t have access to firearms; and
  • Ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the information and training they need to prevent gun violence and strengthen existing laws.

Members of the Arizona Coalition for Common Sense include:

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions
Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Ret.), Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions
Terry Araman, Director, Unified Arizona Veterans
The Honorable Ron Barber, U.S. House of Representatives (2012-2015)
Allie Bones, Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
The Honorable Neil Giuliano, Mayor of Tempe (1994-2004)
Gerry Hills, Founder, Arizonans for Gun Safety
Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata, The United Methodist Church
Michelle Kauk, Senior Vice President for Communications & Public Affairs, Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson
Chris Kitaeff, Vice President, Merrill Lynch
The Honorable Barbara Lawall, Pima County Attorney
Jennifer Longdon, President, Arizonans for Gun Safety
Chief Chris Magnus, Tucson Police Department
Pat Maisch, Owner, Oro Valley Heating and Cooling
Jim Mapstead, President & CEO, Accurate Signs & Engraving
Jill Mapstead, Board Chair, YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix
Raymond Pallanes, Vice President, Bank of America; Founder & CEO, Stir It Up Records
Phillip Potter, Founder & CEO, The Armory
Meg Pradelt, Chair, Gun Violence Prevention Arizona
Dan Ranieri, President & CEO, La Frontera Arizona
Lawrence A. Robinson, Executive Director, Maricopa Community Colleges’ Center for Civic Participation
Pam Simon, January 8th Survivor; Community Outreach Coordinator (former) to Rep. Giffords
The Honorable Corey Woods, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, ASU Preparatory Academy; City of Tempe Council Member (2008-2016)

“Throughout my career as an elected official and business leader here in Arizona, I have witnessed the adverse impact gun violence has on our state’s families and communities,” said Neil Giuliano, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Leadership and former mayor of Tempe, Arizona. “I’m proud to join with Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly in this important fight because I believe it’s time for our leaders here in Arizona to take some commonsense steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

“Throughout my career, I have seen far too many crime scenes involving a gun death or injury. It’s not something you ever forget and it’s difficult to talk about, but it’s a public safety problem that needs our immediate attention,” said Chris Magnus, Chief of Police, Tucson Police Department. “I look forward to working with the Arizona Coalition for Common Sense to raise awareness about the steps our state can take to keep guns out of dangerous hands and improve the safety of our communities..”

“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. We have decades of proof that guns are used to intimidate, threaten, injure and end the lives of victims of domestic violence,” said Allie Bones, CEO, Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. “Our leaders must do more to protect women and children by preventing domestic abusers and stalkers from getting their hands on guns.”

“In the United States Air Force, I tended to the behavioral health of active duty service members to maintain a fit and capable fighting force. This experience gives me unique insight into the veteran suicide epidemic; a national tragedy that claims the lives of 6,000 veterans every year,” said Dr. Phil Potter, Founder & CEO, The Armory. “I’m proud to join with Gabby and Mark in this to battle to save lives because I know our state and country can do more to address the deadly and devastating combination of firearms and lethal intent that can sometimes accompany mental illness.”




  • Arizona is among the deadliest states for gun violence – the number of gun deaths in Arizona is 40 percent higher than the national average. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
  • In Arizona, there were 271 gun homicides in 2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
  • From 2001 through 2010, 3,303 people were murdered by guns in Arizona, more than all U.S. combat deaths in the Afghanistan war. [Department of Defense]
  • In Arizona, 62 percent of women who were killed by intimate partners were shot to death. [Everytown]
  • Gun violence costs Arizona $1.9 billion annually in directly measureable costs, including healthcare costs ($86 million per year), law enforcement and criminal justice expenses ($114 million per year), costs to employers ($11 million per year), and lost income ($1.7 billion per year). [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]
  • Gun violence costs Arizona taxpayers approximately $334 million annually. For example, up to 85 percent of gunshot victims are either uninsured or on some form of publicly-funded insurance. Law enforcement efforts are also funded almost entirely by taxpayer dollars. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]


82% Of Arizonans Support Criminal Background Checks For All Gun Sales. Arizonans overwhelmingly support stronger laws and measures to prevent gun violence. According to research conducted in May 2016, 82% of Arizonans support requiring background checks on all gun sales, including 79% of independents, and 74% of Republicans. [PPP]

92% Of Americans Support Criminal Background Checks For All Gun Sales. According to research conducted in June 2016, 92% of Americans support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. In research conducted in 2014, 92 percent of gun owners said they supported requiring background checks for all gun sales. [CNN/ORC]

In Arizona, Criminal Background Checks Are Only Required At Licensed Firearms Dealers – Not Online And At Gun Shows. Today, under federal law, certain categories of dangerous individuals, known as prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, domestic abusers and some dangerously mentally ill people, are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. Under the Brady Act, when a person attempts to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, the dealer runs a check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms. If information in NICS indicates that a person is prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm, the dealer must deny the sale. But these federal NICS background checks are not required for private sales – which include sales conducted at gun shows and online. Because Arizona law follows federal law, criminal background checks are required only at federally licensed firearms dealers, but not for private sales, including online and at gun shows. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2015]

Where They Are Required, Federal Background Checks Are Quick And Effective. Ninety-one percent of background checks are completed instantaneously, and since the NICS system has been in place, over 196 million background checks have been conducted, and over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2014] [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010]

States That Require Criminal Background Checks For All Handgun Sales Have Seen Drops In Their Gun Violence Rates. In the seventeen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 48 percent fewer firearms suicides and 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. Conversely, after Missouri repealed its law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 25 percent in the state. [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015] [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015] [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015] [Webster, Crifasi, Vernick, 2014]