Press Release

In Aftermath of Jacksonville Shooting, General Michael Hayden Calls For Action to Stop Gun Violence as Part of New Giffords-Led Initiative to Encourage People to Support Gun Safety

Video from Giffords part of new campaign ‘There Is No Other Side’, to organize veterans and other Americans through videos, events, and additional engagement to demand solutions to reduce gun violence

August 27, 2018 — After a mass shooting yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida took the lives of multiple people, Giffords Veteran Coalition released a new video featuring former CIA Director and retired four-star general Michael Hayden calling for an end to the epidemic that is killing 96 Americans every day. The video is part of a new campaign called There Is No Other Side that will encourage Americans to come together around stronger gun laws through videos featuring distinguished veterans along with additional events and engagement with veterans.

The inaugural video features former CIA Director and retired four-star general Michael Hayden, who explains the need for more intelligent solutions to our nation’s gun violence problem. With a career spanning more than 40 years, General Hayden knows the dangers posed by weapons of war. But in the years since his retirement, General Hayden has watched as an unfathomable number of Americans were shot in places like a concert in Las Vegas, a church in Sutherland Springs, and a high school in Parkland.

“We’ve had more Americans killed in high schools in this last year than have been killed in Afghanistan. I’ve seen the effects of violence. There are some weapons out there that frankly nobody should have access to. And actually, there are some people out there who should never have access to any weapons. No one is challenging the right of the American people to keep and bear arms. That heritage, which I deeply respect, does not require us to be unintelligent about this,”Michael Hayden, retired four-star general, U.S. Air Force says in the video. “When you witness some of the things that have happened in our society, the innocent being killed, I’ve got to say as a veteran, there is no other side to this argument.”

“Veterans are not done serving, and they want to play a part in making our country safe once again,” said Captain Mark Kelly, retired US Navy Combat Veteran, former NASA Astronaut, a co-founder of the gun violence prevention organization Giffords. “Leaders like General Hayden, who served our country for decades, understand the importance of uniting the country behind gun violence prevention. Our new effort is making clear that while some try to divide the country over this issue to make a profit, most Americans can unite behind the idea that we can protect your right to bear arms and make it harder for dangerous individuals to obtain firearms. We are proud to partner with General Hayden and look forward to publishing other videos from leaders while working with veterans across the country to make progress on this issue.”

Recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detail that in 2016 alone, more than 155,000 people were shot—almost 39,000 fatally. That’s 34,000 more gun violence victims than in 2015, and 40,000 more than in 2014. In fact, this new data shows that America’s gun death and injury rates rose for the second straight year in a row, after having remained relatively flat for more than a decade.

“This campaign seeks to change the narratives that often prevent informed gun violence prevention discussions” said Stasha Rhodes, Giffords Director of Engagement. “The debate on guns has forced Americans to choose a side – right or left, gun safety or gun lobby. However, when it comes to preventing gun violence, there is no other side. Veterans’ voices are uniquely positioned to make the point – that protecting Americans cannot be a partisan issue.”

In the weeks and months to come, Giffords will release additional videos featuring members of the Giffords Veteran Coalition, as part of the “There Is No Other Side” video series and new engagement efforts that will be carried out in states throughout the country.

The Giffords Veterans Coalition is a national network of America’s veterans who advocate for evidence-based changes to our laws that will make our communities safer from gun violence. In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre – the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history – members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition‚ sent a letter to Congressional leaders, called on Congress to demonstrate “statesmanlike leadership and moral courage across party lines” and vote in the interests of their constituents.

The Coalition is focused on engaging other veterans, elected leaders, and non-traditional allies by:

  • Urging our elected leaders to close the loopholes in our background check laws that let felons, domestic abusers and people with severe mental illness buy guns without a criminal background check.

  • Strengthening existing laws and ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent gun tragedies.

  • Partnering with other groups in the veterans community on suicide prevention and mental health.