Press Release

ENDORSEMENT: Giffords Backs Andrea Stewart-Cousins for State Senate in New York

If reelected, Stewart-Cousins could become the first woman to serve as the Senate Majority Leader in New York

Giffords #VoteCourage Campaign Now Includes Endorsements of 69 Women, 18 Veterans, and 50 Minority Candidates

September 12, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, announced their endorsement of Andrea Stewart-Cousins for reelection to the New York State Senate, representing the 35th District. Currently serving as Senate Minority Leader, Stewart-Cousins could become the first woman to serve as Senate Majority Leader should Democrats regain control of the chamber this November. Stewart-Cousins, who will be on the state Democratic primary ballot this Thursday, is part the Giffords’ #VoteCourage campaign to elect gun reform candidates nationwide.

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:

“America experienced three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history in just the past year. Over 38,000 people in our country were killed by a gun. New York has not been immune to this deadly crisis: someone is killed by a gun in New York every 10 hours. In the face of this devastating reality we must do more to keep our schools, streets, and communities safer.

“Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a leader who understands the toll America’s gun violence crisis takes on her community and the entire state of New York. If elected Senate Majority Leader, it will represent a historic victory that demonstrates New York is ready to continue its progress in the fight against gun violence. Her leadership is needed to send bills to the Governor’s desk that will save lives and prevent future tragedies.

“In order to make progress on this issue it’s critical that strong women like Senator Stewart-Cousins are in office – leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up to the gun lobby and will never stop working to keep New Yorkers safer.”

Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a critical leader on gun violence prevention in the New York State Senate. A native of New York and a former public school teacher, Senator Stewart-Cousins knows that New York’s strong gun laws save lives. She has been a leading voice in efforts to pass a strong gun safety package this year, which includes bills to establish an extreme risk law and ban bumpstocks. While serving as a Westchester County Legislator prior to joining the State Senate, she helped strengthen safe storage requirements for local gun owners.

At all levels of government, Giffords backs candidates with the courage to reject the gun lobby, who are passionate about reducing gun violence, and who commit to taking action once elected. Giffords campaigns in key elections to elevate the issue of gun safety and builds gun violence prevention majorities from state houses all the way up to the United States Senate.

This year candidates from all different backgrounds and walks of life understand that one problem that every community faces is our gun violence crisis. Short biographies and other information about Giffords endorsed candidates are available on the website.

Background of Giffords’ 2018 Political Program

The initial step to the political program this year began in the hours after the Parkland shooting, when Giffords used #VoteCourage to get people to pledge to support candidates in November who will stand up to the gun lobby and fight for safer communities. In less than a week more than 450,000 Americans took the pledge.

Following the #VoteCourage pledge, Giffords began this ongoing, robust political program to shine a light on incumbents’ record of prioritizing the interests of the gun industry over public safety. It is encouraging voters to support candidates with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby. Along with the digital advertisements going out today and the website database, the program will include TV advertising, on-the-ground organizing and events, and a voter registration push.

Giffords launched a partnership with NextGen America and Everytown for Gun safety on a voter registration effort that is committing an initial $1.5 million to seek to get up to 50,000 Americans aged 18-19 registered for the midterm elections. In 2017, Giffords launched its candidate training program to help educate candidates who want to run on a gun safety platform and plans to expand the program in 2018.

The mass shooting at Parkland, in Florida, crystallized the country’s frustration with the lack of any action to pass gun safety laws. Gun death rates have climbed to levels not seen in decades. Currently, the country is averaging nearly 34,000 deaths from guns every year, and recent polling shows that support for stronger gun laws is at an all-time high.

Last November saw gun safety champions win commandingly across the country – from statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey to a key state senate seat in Washington state. The elections sparked what has become known as the suburban rebellion in the districts that will matter to who will have control of Congress next year.

A recent public opinion survey released by Giffords also shows that gun safety is a winning issue in districts key to determining control of the House of Representatives. The poll looked into 38 battleground districts that are largely Republican-held. The results proved that embracing gun safety could be the difference-maker for Democrats in key swing districts, particularly because support for stronger gun laws remains high and the National Rifle Association’s favorability is on a downward trend.