Press Release

Giffords Responds to NRA-Backed Rep. Frelinghuysen’s Decision Not to Run in 2018

Frelinghuysen Opts Out of Re-Election Rather than Face Gun Safety Champion Mikie Sherrill in a Competitive Race

Washington, DC – Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Giffords, the gun safety organization launched by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, released the following statement reacting to the news that New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen will not seek re-election in 2018 for his Congressional seat in New Jersey.

Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Giffords: 

“Throughout his tenure in Congress, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen voted in lockstep with the gun lobby, consistently putting industry profits ahead of public safety. Just last month, in the wake of two of the nation’s worst mass shootings, Rep. Frelinghuysen voted for a bill that would make it easier for dangerous people like stalkers, domestic abusers, and people with no firearms safety training to carry concealed, loaded guns in public – undermining New Jersey’s strong gun laws and dealing a blow to law enforcement. That vote did not go unnoticed by his constituents, and he lost critical support in its aftermath. In his decision not to seek re-election, Rep. Frelinghuysen is acknowledging what we already knew – that there was no way his voters were going to re-elect someone who so blatantly disregarded what was in their best interest and recklessly voted for gun lobby-backed legislation that would make communities in New Jersey less safe.

The voters of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District now have an opportunity to elect someone who knows what it means to fight for the safety of our nation: Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, mother of four, and gun safety champion. New Jersey voters deserve leaders who will have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby, which is why Giffords is committed to supporting candidates like Mikie, who will always put the safety of New Jersey families and communities first.

“Rep. Frelinghuysen’s decision not to run in 2018 is further evidence of broader Republican vulnerability on gun safety. In dozens of swing seats across the country — including the 23 Republican-held districts that voted for Hillary Clinton — GOP representatives are misaligned with their constituents on an issue that speaks directly to their districts’ values and concerns about public safety. Giffords looks forward to campaigning aggressively in these districts to help elect a Congress that will take meaningful action to reduce gun violence.”

Before the House of Representatives voted in December on concealed carry reciprocity, Giffords helped organize a press conference with concerned constituents in New Jersey, including the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence and Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty. They called on Frelinghuysen to vote no on concealed carry reciprocity. Giffords also ran television and digital ads in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District educating the public about the dangerous proposal that would undermine New Jersey laws. The ad called on Rep. Frelinghuysen to support public safety over the gun lobby.

After Frelinghuysen voted in favor of concealed carry reciprocity, Finn Wentworth, a real estate developer in New Jersey and a longtime Frelinghuysen advisor, retracted his support for Frelinghuysen, expressing outrage with the vote. Wentworth joined Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, in endorsing Frelinghuysen’s opponent, veteran Mikie Sherrill for 2018.

After supporting Frelinghuysen for years Wentworth believed the district needed a leader like Sherrill who will do a better job of supporting strong gun safety laws and keeping the community safe. Sherrill, a Navy Academy graduate who became a pilot and spent nearly 10 years on active duty before becoming a federal prosecutor, was one of the first candidates that Giffords endorsed for 2018 U.S. House primary races because of their courage to stand up for gun safety.