Giffords Took on the NRA and Won

MEMORANDUM

TO  Interested Parties
FROM   Peter Ambler, Executive Director, GiffordsPAC
DATE   November 8, 2018
RE   Giffords Took on the NRA and Won

__________

On Tuesday, voters from across the country took to the polls and made one thing crystal clear: the politics of guns has shifted dramatically.

The 2018 election marked a historic shift in the way campaigns will forever approach the issue of gun safety in this country. In short, when candidates in swing districts had the courage to run on the issue of gun safety, those candidates were victorious. In swing races where Giffords ran large, aggressive ad campaigns on the issue, we won. That even includes House races in traditionally conservative regions of the country, like Texas.

Americans now have a gun safety majority in the House of Representatives. The House majority is now in lockstep with the majority of the American people in the belief that our schools, our churches, our places of work, our streets should be safe from gun violence.

In 2018, was saw gun safety move from third rail to top issue in some of the most contentious campaigns. Millions of voters—young and old, Democrat and Republican, urban and suburban—rallied for stronger gun laws and the candidates who support them. Campaign ads touting gun safety far outnumbered ones focused on gun rights. And gun safety groups like Giffords outspent the NRA by tens of millions of dollars, even in the deepest of red states, like Texas.  This election cycle, Giffords endorsed 307 candidates. Of those endorsements 249 candidates were victorious. We are still awaiting results from 10 additional outstanding races.

With the NRA approval rating reaching record lows and families’ fear of gun violence reaching record highs, this election cycle Giffords made sure critically important voters knew the truth about their Members of Congress who voted to weaken gun laws or opposed background checks while taking contributions from the gun lobby.

Key Takeaways:

  • Giffords Wins Big Return on Investment: Giffords PAC ran an aggressive independent expenditure campaign of nearly $7 million to take on four Republican Members of Congress in battleground, suburban congressional districts because they sided with the NRA at the expense of reducing gun violence in their communities. Giffords was victorious in all four districts. NRA-favorites Barbara Comstock, Mike Coffman, Jason Lewis, and John Culberson were all defeated and replaced with Giffords-endorsed candidates, committed to strengthening America’s gun laws.
  • In the House, Big Wins for Gun Safety; Big Losses for the NRA: 95 Giffords endorsed gun safety champions were elected to the US House of Representatives last night, helping flip the House to a new “Gun Safety Majority”. 32 of the NRA’s top-champions in the House were defeated, the majority of whom accepted gun lobby contributions and A-ratings and blocked progress on all action to strengthen gun laws.  
  • Gun Safety Wins at the State-Level: Across the country Giffords-endorsed gun safety champions were elected to governors mansions, including: Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota, Oregon, California, and Connecticut. Further down the ballot Democrats took back 7 chambers including the Minnesota State House, the New Hampshire State House, the New Hampshire Senate, the Colorado State Senate, the Maine senate, the Connecticut Senate, and the New York State Senate. Giffords endorsed candidates also helped break a supermajority in North Carolina.
  • Exit Polling Proves Gun Safety is Top of Mind: NBC exit polling found that among Democrats, gun policy ranked as the #2 issue for Democrat voters; behind health care and a head of the economy and immigration. NBC exit polls also found that most voters support stricter gun control measures, 60% support; 36% oppose. CNN exit polling shows that guns ranked as the 4th issue on voters minds, regardless of party.
  • Youth Vote Soars Dramatically in 2018 Midterms: The Center  for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) from Tufts University estimates that roughly 31 percent of youth (ages 18-29) turned out to vote in the 2018 midterms, an extraordinary increase over their estimate in 2014, when our day-after exit poll calculation suggested that 21% of eligible young voters went to the polls. CIRCLE estimates that this is by far the highest level of participation among youth in the past quarter century. In the lead up to the election, Gun violence prevention ranked as the top issue among young people. Giffords played a key role in increasing turning out the vote among this demographic. Through the Our Lives Our Vote initiative, Giffords helped register more than 60,000 young people to vote.

Election Night Statement from Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

“They said the NRA was too powerful. They said it had too much money, too much influence. That their lobbyists had bought too many politicians. They told us to be scared. They told us change wasn’t possible. But we knew better. We knew Americans would stand with us and fight for a safer future. Tonight, we proved them wrong, and we beat the NRA—together.

“For the first time ever, candidates—including candidates in the toughest and most critical swing districts—boldly ran on gun safety platforms, and won. At Giffords, we locked horns with the NRA in important house battlegrounds, and came away with victories in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, and Texas.

“The transformation we witnessed in the House tonight—and the momentous cultural and political shift we’ve witnessed on this issue this year—will lead to safer gun laws that will save lives. We’re committed to bringing the same fight that we brought to the 2018 midterms to the new Congress. Change is on the horizon.

“When we launched our organization in 2013 after the horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, our goal was to challenge the gun lobby. To make sure public safety was always prioritized over gun industry profits. To fight for a future where our children wouldn’t grow up fearing the sound of gunfire. Six years ago, the problem wasn’t that the NRA couldn’t lose—the problem was that not enough people were challenging them.

“Together with millions of Americans, we’ve changed that. In the six years since our organization was founded, we’ve had both victories and defeats. Throughout it all, we’ve persisted. When you’re fighting to save lives, the stakes are simply too high to walk away. Tonight’s election shows, as Martin Luther King once said, that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We’re committed to keep fighting for justice, no matter how long it takes.”

THE LANDSCAPE

Times have changed. The NRA has reached record levels of unpopularity, the campaign-season advertising in support of gun law reform dramatically increased since the previous cycle, and Democratic candidates embraced gun safety in a way never before seen.

NRA Approval Ratings Hit Rock Bottom. The Navigator Research project (a coalition of progressive pollsters) finds the NRA decline in favorability has NOT rebounded since Parkland. The NRA has become a major net-negative for those associated. They are now -17 points (34-53). According to the report, “even as recently as 2017, public polling showed more were favorable of the NRA than not. But, in the wake of the February 2018 shooting at Parkland high school, opinions on the NRA suddenly and dramatically shifted negatively—and it’s staying underwater. In three separate Navigator polls since April, the NRA has been more unpopular than popular.” 

Candidates Ran Away from the NRA’s Favored Positions. The Boston Globe reported that, “Already vulnerable Republicans in swing districts have distanced themselves from the National Rifle Association, downplaying their top ratings that long were a political boon. And the NRA has drastically cut back political spending this cycle, leaving openings for newly energized gun control groups to run emotional ads attacking Republicans over gun violence.”

Democratic Candidates Are Embraced Reform Like Never Before. According to a report and analysis by Reuters, “38 of the 59 Democrats backed by the party’s ‘Red-to-Blue’ campaign—targeting vulnerable Republican districts—have supported gun safety in their official platforms. At this point in the 2016 election cycle, only four of 36 Red-to-Blue candidates backed stronger gun laws in their platforms.”

Data Proved that Advertising Supported Gun Safety Reforms. According to an analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data, “ads promoting stricter gun regulations aired 102,636 times across the country this year—a 22-fold increase from four years ago, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data.”

PAID AD STRATEGY

Giffords PAC ran an aggressive independent expenditure campaign of nearly $7 million to take on Republican Members of Congress in battleground, suburban congressional districts because they sided with the NRA at the expense of reducing gun violence in their communities. Victories were achieved in all four districts where we invested, and top-NRA allies – Barbara Comstock, Mike Coffman, Jason Lewis, and John Culberson – were successfully defeated.  

Giffords PAC strategy used new, creative approaches to put the gun safety issue front-and-center in critically-important, suburban battleground districts critical to fueling Democratic victories in the midterms. We leaned heavily on the fear of gun violence within suburban communities—especially the fears of mass shootings at schools and other public venues. These ads focused on the victims of these tragedies and on all those who fear they could be next. The ads held the NRA and Republicans in Congress responsible for consistently obstructing reform to our gun laws that would stop dangerous people from getting their hands on weapons.

Much like drug companies or Wall Street banks, voters now see the NRA as a corrupting influence on the Republicans in Congress and want to hold Republicans accountable for siding with the NRA at the expense of public safety. Giffords PAC deployed a blend of broadcast, cable, radio, and digital advertising to persuasively make this case.

THE RACES

VICTORY IN VIRGINIA-10
Giffords Defeats Congresswoman Barbara Comstock
Helps Elect Gun Safety Champion Jennifer Wexton

The first race Giffords PAC advertised in was suburban Northern Virginia to defeat incumbent Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, who won reelection in 2016 by 6 points (53%-47%) despite Hillary Clinton winning her district by 10 points (52%-42%). This Northern Virginia district is the backyard of the NRA’s headquarters and the first ad featured Gabby Giffords herself, directly taking on the NRA and Comstock. The second ad told the full story of how Comstock stood with the NRA while opposing commonsense reforms to our gun laws that reduce gun violence.

The over $1 million dollar ad campaign ran on cable television systems in Loudoun and parts of Fairfax and included a $100,000 digital campaign that drove 7 million impressions on the most persuadable voters, including 5.6 million on women. Both the cable shows and the digital targets focused on independent voters, with a strong emphasis on reaching female voters.

Polling data, taken before and after the ad campaign for the survey, reveal that Giffords PAC helped diminish Comstock’s favorability by as much as 10 points while contributing to Jennifer Wexton expanding her lead by at least 3 points. The findings make clear that two-thirds of voters consider guns a top issue for this election and the Giffords PAC made them more knowledgeable about Comstock’s position on guns and the NRA.  

  • In a congressional district where Comstock has won tough races in the past, her favorability dropped from 42 percent favorable/42 percent unfavorable in August to 40 percent/50 percent.
  • Voters are now 9 points more likely to say it is “definitely true” that Comstock has an A rating from the NRA (61% total “true”) and that Comstock has taken money from the NRA (61% total “true”).
  • Two-thirds of voters (69%) consider “guns” a major issue when deciding whom to vote for this November, trailing only healthcare at 76%. Gun issues are more important to voters than a candidate’s position on Trump, taxes, women’s rights, or the environment.

VICTORY IN COLORADO-06
Giffords Defeats Congressman Mike Coffman
Helps Elect Gun Safety Champion Jason Crow

In this battleground, suburban Denver district, Congressman Mike Coffman has repeatedly avoided defeat, including winning by 8 points (51%-43%) in 2016 while Hillary Clinton won by nearly 9 points (50%-41%). Giffords PAC ran extended-length ad buys designed to make clear that Congressman Mike Coffman has done nothing to stop the gun violence that has plagued schools and other public venues in this suburban community. Instead, Coffman has stood with the NRA—taking more money from them than any Member of Congress from Colorado.

One powerful, gut-wrenching ad broadcast every American parent’s worst nightmare of a text messaging conversation between a parent and their child during an active shooter situation. The ad makes clear that tragedies like this could be prevented if Congressman Mike Coffman and others like him would stand up to the NRA.

The second ad emphasized that Congressman Mike Coffman has been a “yes man” for the NRA—taking their money but voting against background checks and choosing to weaken our gun laws. The ad ends by reminding voters how Coffman has changed: “He’s not our Mike Coffman anymore, he’s theirs.”

The $2 million ad campaign included both ads running for one month—from September 25 through October 22—on both broadcast and cable television in Denver, along with digital pre-roll.

Polling data show CO-06 voters were 10 points more likely to know Coffman received an A rating from the NRA and nine points more likely to know Coffman received more money from the NRA than any other Colorado member of Congress after the ad campaign. And that favorability toward the NRA went from -2 before the ads (44% favorable/46% unfavorable) to -12 (39% favorable/51% unfavorable) after the ads.

VICTORY IN MINNESOTA-02
Giffords Defeats Congressman Jason Lewis
Helps Elect Gun Safety Champion Angie Craig

In the upper Midwestern district comprised of Minneapolis suburbs, Giffords PAC ran a campaign for supporters of gun rights but opponents of gun violence. The $1.3 million ad campaign ran from September 21 through October 11 on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms in the Minneapolis media market.

Both ads highlighted how Congressman Jason Lewis has sided with the corporate gun lobby at the expense of public safety. One ad featured a powerful testimonial featuring Burnsville, Minnesota resident Bob Mokos, a former Air Force pilot, NRA sharpshooter, and a gun owner. The second ad contrasted Washington politician Jason Lewis’s record of opposing background checks with Angie Craig’s support for the Second Amendment and commonsense gun laws.  

Surveys show that “guns” represent a major issue—second only to healthcare—among voters in MN-02, with nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) considering it important. The survey also indicates that after the Giffords ad campaign on guns, incumbent Jason Lewis now trails challenger Angie Craig by 9 points after beating her by 2 points in 2016—an 11-point swing.

  • Craig expanded her lead with women (+9 in vote share since September), particularly non-college women (+16), independents (+9), and moderates (+17), all of whom were Giffords PAC ad campaign targets.
  • Voters’ awareness of Lewis’s specific positions on guns featured in Giffords PAC’s advertising grew during the ad campaign. Voters were 14 points more likely to report seeing or hearing about Lewis’s position on guns after the ad campaign.
  • As they learned the facts about Lewis’s record on guns, voters are now less favorable toward Lewis. In August, 42% were unfavorable of Lewis. Now, 47% are unfavorable of Lewis (+5 unfav).

VICTORY IN TEXAS-07
Giffords Defeats Congressman John Culberson
Replaces Him With Gun Safety Champion Lizzie Pannill Fletcher

Giffords PAC even advertised against a Republican Member of Congress in Houston, Texas—Congressman John Culberson. The $1.1 million ad campaign on broadcast, cable, and digital ran for more than three weeks and focused on women. The ads showed Culberson siding with the NRA while Houston kids suffer through lockdowns and active shooter drills. The powerful ad taps into older generations’ memories of Cold War Era-duck and cover drills and compares that to the fear kids and parents face today because Culberson has been a yes man for the NRA.

PPP polling conducted before and after the ad aired on television shows Culberson’s net job approval numbers dropped five points and that the NRA’s favorability dropped eight points after Giffords PAC’s ad aired. 18-45-year-olds were among the most likely to see and hear more about Culberson on guns (+22 after ads aired) and to swing on favorability toward the NRA (-4 before ad to -19 after ad).

CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENTS

In the 2018 cycle, Giffords endorsed over 300 candidates in 34 states, up and down the ballot.  Our endorsements were sought by senators, incumbent Congress members, and state legislators. For the first time, Giffords endorsed candidates in sheriff’s races in Florida and North Carolina. But our main focus was on working towards a gun safety majority in the US House of Representatives. In House races, Giffords endorsed and provided important candidates services in top races around the country. Throughout the course of this cycle, the Giffords campaign services team has provided message guidance and worked with campaigns to build thoughtful positions on gun violence prevention.

Signs of Progress at All Levels of Government

Building a Gun Safety Majority in the US House of Representatives

Giffords-backed candidates played a critical role in electing a gun safety majority to the House of Representatives. In all four districts where Giffords ran television ads (CO-06, MN-02, TX-07, and VA-10), a Giffords-endorsed candidate defeated an incumbent NRA ally. Veteran candidates endorsed by Giffords were particularly effective messengers on gun safety. Of the 17 Giffords-endorsed military veterans running for seats in the US House 11 were victorious.  Former Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill cruised to victory in a competitive New Jersey seat. Former Navy commander Elaine Luria defeated a Republican incumbent with an ‘A’ rating from the NRA while running on a strong gun violence prevention platform in a military-heavy Virginia district. In short, gun safety proved to be a winning issue in House districts across the country, from upstate New York to the plains of Kansas to the desert of Arizona.

Notable Victories in the House:

    • Mike Levin (CA-49): Mike Levin ran as a gun safety champion to replace NRA ‘A’ rated NRA Congressman, Darrell Issa in Southern California. Levin has made taking action on gun violence a central part of his message in the race against Harkey.

    • Jason Crow (CO-06): One of the most important races in the country, Jason Crow consistently made gun violence prevention a central part of his message as he ran to defeat Mike Coffman. Coffman consistently received ‘A’ ratings from the NRA and accepted more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from the gun lobby.

    • Angie Craig (MN-02): As a recreational shooter and the mother of four sons, two of whom are avid hunters, Angie Craig understands the need to balance Second Amendment rights with common-sense gun safety laws. She successfully defeated Rep. Jason Lewis, someone who always to voted the gun lobby’s line in Congress.

    • Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11): Mikie Sherrill is a Naval Academy graduate, helicopter pilot, and former federal prosecutor. As an Assistant US Attorney, Mikie prosecuted federal cases and advised law enforcement on investigations, working directly with the victims of gun violence. This was an open seat that was previously held by Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen.

    • Antonio Delgado (NY-19): Antonio Delgado is the child of General Electric workers in Schenectady, where he grew up in a community that was affected by gun violence. He is an attorney who earned a Rhodes Scholarship, as well as a graduate of Harvard Law School. Despite facing a barrage of negative advertising, Antonio defeated NRA-endorsed Republican John Faso while running on a strong gun safety platform in this upstate New York district.

    • Anthony Brindisi (NY-22): The NRA made this race one of their top priorities in the country, sending Oliver North to campaign for incumbent Claudia Tenney at a shooting range where a mass shooter trained to kill 13 people in 2009. Nevertheless, Anthony Brindisi, who has a strong track record as an independent voice for Central New York in the State Assembly, defeated Tenney while running on a strong gun safety platform that earned him an ‘F’ rating from the NRA.

    • Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (TX-07): Lizzie Pannill Fletcher is a lawyer who has spent her career standing up for the families of Houston. Lizzie learned how to shoot at summer camp growing up in Texas and ran for Congress on a strong gun violence prevention platform. After voting for Mitt Romney by 21 points in 2012, Texas’ seventh district went to Hillary Clinton by one point in 2016. The suburban Houston district is now one of the top House battlegrounds in the country, with Lizzie outraising the long-time incumbent and Freedom Caucus member Culberson, who received an ‘A+’ rating from the NRA in 2016.
    • Colin Allred (TX-32): In a state where gun safety has long been a political taboo, civil rights attorney and former NFL linebacker Colin Allred defeated long-time incumbent Pete Sessions while running on a strong gun violence prevention platform. Sessions had an ‘A+’ rating from the NRA and benefited from almost $200,000 worth of gun lobby spending in his career. In the end, the NRA’s support led only to a sizeable defeat for Sessions in the Dallas suburbs.

    • Elaine Luria (VA-02): Elaine Luria served in the Navy for 20 years as a surface warfare officer and nuclear engineer. President Trump carried Virginia’s second district by only 3 points in 2016, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam won the district by 4 points in November of 2017. Elaine ran on a strong gun violence prevention platform while her opponent touted his ‘A’ rating from the NRA.

    • Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)  Like many in Virginia, Abigail has a personal connection to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, where the child of a family friend was shot and survived. Incumbent Dave Brat has not had a serious challenge since his upset win in the 2014 Republican primary. Abigail status as a former CIA operative makes her an effective messenger of her strong gun violence prevention platform. Her opponent, Rep. Dave Brat, had been a consistent recipient of NRA donations and ‘A’ ratings. In return, he has towed the NRA’s line when it came to gun laws.
    • Jennifer Wexton (VA-10): A sitting state senator, Jennifer Wexton has been a gun violence prevention champion from the beginning of her career, voting to establish universal background checks, ban bump stocks, mandate the reporting of lost and stolen firearms, and keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers. This year, she defeated Rep. Barbara Comstock in a race that was widely considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle. This suburban northern Virginia district is home to the NRA, and Comstock’s extreme record on the issue stands in sharp contrast to the wishes of her constituents.

Electing Gun Safety Champions to the US Senate 

Of 13 endorsed candidates for United States Senate, 12 prevailed on election night and 1 is facing a recount. Notably, Nevada voters replaced Dean Heller with gun safety champion Jacky Rosen. In diverse states across the country, the candidates with the courage to run on gun safety were rewarded with another term in the senate.

Electing Gun Safety Governors
Across the country Giffords Endorsed 13 Gun Safety Champions and 10 were elected to governors mansions while two remain in uncalled races. Giffords Endorsed Governors were elected in Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Connecticut. Two of these endorsed candidates, Steve Sisolak & Tim Walz, previously received NRA A Ratings in their careers; today both Governor-Elects have pledged to do more in their states to stand up to the gun lobby and work towards having universal background checks in their states.  

State Legislative Races
Giffords took a keen interested in state legislative races across the country by supporting more than a hundred candidates in key states. Despite media narratives harboring the doom of Vermont candidates who supported the gun safety package signed by Gov. Phil Scott in the wake of Parkland, nearly all of the legislators who voted in favor were overwhelmingly re-elected. Candidates in Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Delaware and New York won races and will be seated in their states’ legislature. Giffords-backed candidates also played a key role in breaking the Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Attorney General
In Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York, Giffords-endorsed Attorney General candidates won comfortable victories. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who has distinguished herself as a national leader in gun violence prevention, will continue to serve as a check on any unilateral action by the Trump Administration that endangers children and families. In Illinois and New York, Attorneys General-elect Kwame Brown and Leticia ‘Tish’ James ran successful campaigns on the promise of defending their respective states’ gun laws.

Sheriff
Both Sheriff candidates endorsed by Giffords were victorious on Tuesday night. In North Carolina, Army veteran and retired police officer Quentin Miller was elected the first African-American Sheriff of Buncombe County. In Florida, former Orlando Police Chief John Mina, who led the local law enforcement response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting, was elected Orange County Sheriff. Both Sheriffs will be strong advocates for stronger gun laws that will save lives in their communities.

VOTE SAVE LIVES TOUR

In the final months of the 2018 campaign, Gabby and Mark launched the “Vote Save Lives” tour. Traveling to college campuses and communities to support candidates running on gun safety in battleground states and districts, Giffords joined with student activists, gun violence survivors, and community leaders for community conversations, get-out-the-vote efforts, and other events to elevate gun safety as a voting issue. The effort included collaborations with March for Our Lives, NextGen, and other organizations, and engaged thousands of voters in key states and districts.

Tour Stops:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada: The Vote Save Lives tour kicked off on October 2 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, one day after the anniversary of the Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. While in Las Vegas, Gabby and Mark hosted a roundtable discussion with gun violence survivors, students, and community members. Following the roundtable, Gabby and Mark joined student organizers and NextGen America President Tom Steyer for an “Our Lives Our Vote” canvass kickoff, to register students to vote ahead of the midterm elections. 
  • Irvine, California: On October 13, Gabby and Mark gathered on the UC-Irvine campus with student advocates, actor and activist Bradley Whitford, and other community leaders to host a Get-Out-the-Vote gathering. The next day, Gabby and Mark campaigned for three of California’s Giffords-backed candidates: Harley Rouda, Mike Levin, and Katie Kill.
  • Seattle, Washington: Gabby and Mark were a part of Get-Out-the-Vote rally with Rep. Adam Smith, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Renée Hopkins, and Citizen Sponsor of Initiative 1639 Paul Kramer at Rainier Beach Community Center. They highlighted the continued leadership and need to reelect Rep. Adam Smith to Congress and endorsed Washington Ballot Initiative 1639, a ballot measure designed to strengthen the state’s gun laws.
  • Portland, Oregon: On October 19th, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and joined Governor Kate Brown and local gun violence prevention leaders to speak about the importance of common sense gun reform and the Oregon Governor’s race. Speakers included Gov. Brown, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Everytown Survivor Fellow, and Natalie Khalil, member of Oregon Youth for Gun Reform.
  • Chicago, Illinois: On October 18, Giffords attended a press conference to announce a joint endorsement with GPAC of JB Pritzker for Governor. Robin Lloyd, government affairs director at Giffords, joined Kathleen Sances of GPAC, local gun violence prevention activists, Giffords Courage Fellows, and JB Pritzker for a press conference announcing the Giffords and GPAC joint endorsement of JB Pritzker for governor of Illinois.
  • Tucson, Arizona: On October 21, Gabby and Mark hosted a Get-Out-the-Vote rally with Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, Democratic candidate for Arizona governor David Garcia, Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General January Contreras, State Rep. Kirsten Engel, President of EMILY’s List Stephanie Schriock, Giffords Coalition member Pat Maisch, and Jacob Martinez of March For Our Lives Arizona. 
  • Orlando, Florida: Mark Kelly held a rally with Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, marking the first day of early voting in the state. Murphy, a Giffords-backed candidate, is running for reelection in the seventh congressional district on a platform that includes strengthening our nation’s gun safety laws. 
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: Gabby and Mark joined Comedy Central host Jordan Klepper and students from March for Our Lives for a Get-Out-the-Vote town hall on the University of Minnesota campus.
  • Houston, Texas: On November 2, Giffords teamed up with student activists from March for Our Lives and journalist Liz Plank to hold a Get-Out-the-Vote Town Hall at the University of Houston.

The next day, Gabby and Mark participated in a canvass kickoff event with Giffords-endorsed candidate Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.

Coverage Highlights:

  • Huffington Post: A Leading Gun Safety Group Is Heading To Key Districts Before The Midterms
  • Las Vegas Sun: Gabby Giffords Brings Gun Violence Survivors Together in Las Vegas to Discuss Action
  • Las Vegas-Review Journal: Gabby Giffords Talks with Gun Violence Survivors at UNLV
  • Associated Press: Somber Tributes, Dimmed Lights on Vegas Shooting Anniversary
  • Mother Jones: A Year After the Las Vegas Shooting, Gun Control Advocates Are Getting Out the Vote in Nevada
  • San Diego Union-Tribune: Giffords Campaigns for Levin on Gun Violence Issues
  • Times of San Diego: Gabby Giffords at Levin Rally in Solana Beach: ‘These Are Scary Times’
  • The Signal: Former Congresswoman visits Santa Clairta Valley
  • SeattlePi: Washington Gun Safety Initiative Will ‘Impact Other Places’ — Giffords, Kelly
  • KATU: Gabby Giffords ask Voters to Support Brown at Gun Reform Rally
  • KIRO 7 News Staff: Gun Safety Initiative Supporters Launch Final Push as Ballots Go Out
  • WESH: Husband of Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords Rallies for Stephanie Murphy at UCF
  • Florida Politics: Mark Kelly Proclaims Progress in Gun Law Campaign
  • News4Tucson: Sinema, Giffords, Kelly Push Get-Out-the-Vote Message in Tucson
  • StarTribune: Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly Stump for Gun Control, Democrats in Minneapolis
  • Minnesota Daily: Political Candidates, Activists Discuss Gun Control
  • Kare11: Giffords Campaigns for Gun Law Reforms in Minnesota
  • ABC News: Gun Control Advocates Take Their Campaign to the State with more Registered Guns that any in the US
  • Houston Chronicle: Giffords, Student Activists tell Houston to Back Midterm Candidates who Support Gun Control

GIFFORDS VETERANS TOUR

Recognizing that military veterans make both great candidates and credible, compelling advocates for gun safety laws, Giffords worked hard to support several veteran gun safety advocates in their campaigns for Congress. The Giffords Veterans Tour was the cornerstone of this effort. Partnering with the veterans’ political advocacy group VoteVets, US Navy combat veteran Captain Mark Kelly toured the country supporting veteran candidates. During discussions and earned media events, students, advocates, and voters discussed the ways gun violence is impacting their community, the lack of congressional action to address the nation’s growing gun violence epidemic, and what must be done to save lives. In 2016 alone, 155,000 people were shot, almost 39,000 fatally. The perspective of veterans, who are our nation’s foremost experts on guns, is critical in the gun safety debate. They know what guns can do in the hands of trained, responsible people, and how they can be used in the hands of those who want to do harm to themselves or others.

Tour Stops:

  • NJ-11 (Mikie Sherrill): On September 7 at the American Legion Post 238 in Woodland Park, NJ, Gabby, Mark, and VoteVets Vice Chairman Dan Helmer participated in a forum with Mikie Sherrill, the Democratic candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th district. Local leaders discussed their personal experiences with gun violence, and Mark, Mikie, and Gabby discussed the need for stronger federal gun laws while urging participants to vote.
  • PA-06 (Chrissy Houlahan): On September 7 at the New Life In Christ Fellowship in Coatesville, PA, Gabby, Mark, and VoteVets Vice Chairman Dan Helmer participated in a roundtable discussion with Chrissy Houlahan, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District. The roundtable participants took turns discussing their experiences with gun violence. Mark and Chrissy addressed the need for stronger federal gun laws after Gabby gave a speech urging the roundtable to vote.
  • PA-17 (Conor Lamb): On September 9 at the Heidelberg Volunteer Fire Hall in Heidelberg, PA, Mark and VoteVets Vice Chairman Dan Helmer participated in a forum with Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District. Twelve people helped lead the panel, which discussed the need for stronger gun safety laws and rebuked the Trump administration’s proposal to arm teachers.
  • KY-06 (Amy McGrath): On September 9, Mark held a roundtable with Amy McGrath, who is running in Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District. During the event, which was held at American Legion Post 8, they joined a range of community members to discuss how America’s gun violence is impacting veteran suicides.
  • CO-06 (Jason Crow): On September 20 at the Arapahoe Library in Littleton, Colorado, Gabby, Mark, and Dan Helmer joined Jason Crow for a gun safety rally. Members of the community and survivors also participated in the event.
  • CA-39 (Gil Cisneros): On September 23, Mark and Dan Helmer hosted a roundtable discussion in Diamond Bar, California, with Gil Cisneros. They were joined by representatives from Cisneros’s Veterans Steering Committee, the Brady Campaign, and Moms Demand Action. After the roundtable, Mark and Gil spokes to volunteers and rallied supporters ahead of a canvass event.
  • VA-02 (Elaine Luria): On September 29 at the Mary Pretlow Library in Norfolk, VA, Mark and Dan Helmer participated in a roundtable discussion with Elaine Luria, the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s Second Congressional District. They joined students, advocates, and other community members to discuss the ways gun violence is impacting the area and the lack of congressional action to address the nation’s growing gun violence epidemic.

Coverage Highlights:

  • McClatchy: Progressive Vets, Gun Control Advocates Join Forces on the Campaign Trail
  • Insider NJ: Giffords and Astronaut Husband Land at Sherrill’s Side in CD11
  • NorthJersey.com: Midterm 2018: Mikie Sherrill, Gabrielle Giffords Event Highlights Gun Rights in Campaigns
  • NJTV: 11th Congressional District Race Heats Up
  • Wall Street Journal: Four States Could Swing the House
  • Daily Local: Giffords, Houlahan Call for Gun Reform
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Gun Safety Tour Supporting Veterans for Congress Stops in Heidelberg
  • Newsy: Veteran Candidates Look to Shore Up Voters on Gun Issues
  • Colorado Sun: The Anti-gun Violence Giffords PAC is pouring $1.5 million-plus to Unseat Mike Coffman
  • Denverite: Jason Crow wants Gun Reform to Become a Key Issue in the Uber-competitive CD6
  • KUNC: Congressional Race in Colorado Heats Up as National Gun Groups Spend Big  
  • Phoenixville Patch: Gabby Giffords Speaking In Chester County On Gun Violence
  • NBC News: In California Congressional Race, Latino Democrat Gil Cisneros Touts ‘opportunity’ as his Theme
  • WKYT: Retired Astronaut Campaigns for Amy McGrath

OUR LIVES OUR VOTE
Giffords, joined by NextGen America, Acronym, and Everytown, launched Our Lives Our Vote, a nationwide drive to register young voters ahead of the 2018 midterm around the need for gun reform. The campaign registered over 60,000 18-and-19-year olds to vote by mailing voter registration forms to newly eligible voters immediately after their 18th birthdays, targeting young people with online voter registration ads online, and registering young voters face-to-face in their communities through partnerships with local organizations.

Coverage Highlights:

  • Politico: Tom Steyer, Gun Safety Groups Plan Voter Registration Drive for High School Students
  • Reuters: Teen Birthday Drive Targets Pro-gun Lawmakers
  • The Daily Cardinal: Our Lives, Our Vote Initiative Registers 50,000 Young Americans in Effort to Harness the ‘Youth Vote’
  • Tucson Weekly: NextGen Arizona Registers 21,051 Young Voters
  • Mother Jones: Gun Control Groups Seek Revenge Against Rick Scott
  • The Guardian: Arizona Students’ Stand on Gun Control Switches to Voter Registration

THE LAST LOCKDOWN

On Saturday, September 15, Giffords teamed up with Change the Ref, the National School Walk Out, and 50 Miles More to host events urging voters to elect leaders committed to protecting kids from gun violence. The groups brought 3D-printed statues—The Last Lockdown Statue—to ten congressional districts where elected officials have long prioritized the gun lobby’s agenda over taking action to reduce gun violence and protect public safety.

  • FL-22: Organizers unveiled the statue and hosted a voter registration drive for students aged 16–18. Local elected leaders and Diane Wolk-Rogers, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher, spoke during the press conference portion of the drive.

  • NV-03: Karl Catarata, a March for Our Lives Las Vegas leader, Organizing for America community organizer, and UNLV student, organized a voter registration drive and press conference in conjunction with the statue unveiling at the Center for Social Justice on the UNLV campus. In Southern Nevada, the gun safety movement is fighting to keep Nevada’s 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts in the hands of gun violence prevention champions. Susie Lee is running to fill the seat vacated by Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, who is running for the US Senate, and Steve Horsford is running to return to Congress in the seat currently held by retiring Representative Ruben Kihuen. Lee, Rosen, and Horsford all support important efforts like passing laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and closing loopholes in our background check system.

  • CO-6: Youth organizer Krista Choate hosted a voter registration drive during the unveiling of the Last Lackdown statue. Krista’s representative, Congressman Mike Coffman, has positioned himself against any form of gun violence prevention. Rep. Coffman has the enthusiastic backing of the NRA for his support of concealed carry reciprocity and the loosening of restrictions on interstate gun sales. Congressman Coffman is running for re-election against gun safety champion Jason Crow.

  • MN-03:  Student activist and Giffords Courage Fellow Sydney Lewis has been an outspoken advocate for gun violence prevention in the state of Minnesota through the Eden Prairie chapter of Students Demand Action. To accompany the unveiling of The Last Lockdown Statue, Sydney organized a voter registration drive. The event featured a rally portion with local gun safety champion candidates and student activists. Congressman Erik Paulsen, who represents Minneapolis, has received $20,000 from the NRA and has been a barrier to congressional efforts to take action to save lives. Dean Phillips has been running a strong campaign in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. When he gets elected to Congress, Dean Phillips will be a gun safety champion who fights to enact universal background checks, put an end to the gun show loophole, and keep people on the no-fly list from buying guns.

  • CA-45: Local youth organizer Skye Wagoner organized a voter registration drive and statue unveiling in Irvine, CA. The first portion of the event took place in CA-48, in front of Dana Rohrabacher’s office in Huntington Beach where 22 desks, including the statue, were on display to symbolize the 22 children shot in America each day. The event will then move to the office of Congresswoman Mimi Walters for a voter registration drive and art installation. Lastly, the event moved to the office of CA-42 Representative Ken Calvert, a congressman who has long accepted NRA contributions.

  • WI-01: Giffords Courage Fellow and 50 Miles More Executive Director Katie Eder and 50 Miles More Outreach Director Tatiana Washington hosted The Last Lockdown statue unveiling and voter registration drive in Milwaukee to remind the community that voting in the midterms can save lives.

  • TX-07: Giffords Courage Fellow Megan McGuire and local youth organizer Marcel McClinton from Orange Generation unveiled The Last Lockdown statue in front of Houston City Hall. In addition to hosting a voter registration drive, Megan and Marcel were joined by additional speakers for a press conference, where they called on voters to elect new leaders dedicated to keeping kids safe from gun violence. The Texas Seventh District is currently represented by Rep. John Culberson, a champion of NRA-backed policies.

  • FL-16: Local Sarasota youth organizer Hailey Landry unveiled The Last Lockdown statue and hosted a voter registration drive and press conference about gun violence in her community. Student speakers, teachers, and local leaders were invited to speak. Congressman Vern Buchanan has proven himself an ineffective leader in Congress since being elected. Buchanan has repeatedly taken NRA money and has done the gun lobby’s bidding. This year, candidate David Shapiro, a local businessman, has pledged to be a gun safety champion.

  • WA-05: Youth organizer Brooke Bennett hosted The Last Lockdown statue unveiling to bring attention to the gun violence epidemic in our country. Spokane students and teachers were invited to discuss the impact of gun violence in Spokane and organizers registered voters. Spokane is represented by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of Republican leadership and a barrier to effective gun safety legislation. Vying to replace McMorris Rodgers is Lisa Brown, former Chancellor of Washington State Spokane and a supporter of banning bump stucks, closing background check loopholes, and addressing gun violence as a public health crisis.

  • PA-05 + PA-06: Youth organizers Sophia Qureshi and Julia Spoor organized a voter registration drive at Philadelphia Museum of Art that featured The Last Lockdown statue. Katie Kendrick, a junior at the George school and gun violence survivor, and Saira Salyani, chair of High School Democrats of Pennsylvania, spoke at the event.

Coverage Highlights:

    • Washington Post: ‘You Should Feel Unsettled When Viewing These.’ Gun-control Statues Aim to Evoke Students’ Terror During Lockdowns
    • USA Today: Child Hides Under Desk to Prepare for Shooting in Sculpture from Parkland Victim’s Dad
    • CNN: ‘Last Lockdown’ Sculpture is a Parkland Father’s Plea to Voters
    • HuffPost: Father of Parkland Shooting Victim Sculpts Haunting Image of Child Hiding Under Desk
    • Fox News: ‘Last Lockdown’ Statues Part of Gun-control Group’s Plan to Change Minds in Pro-gun Districts
    • MSNBC: Last Lockdown Statues on MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle
    • Fortune: This Father Lost His Son in Parkland. Now He Wants America to Vote the NRA’s Influence Out of Office
    • Adweek: Gun Control Activists Hope This Startling Statue Will Help Drive Change on Election Day
    • WTHR: “Last Lockdown” Statues Deployed to Raise Awareness of Gun Control
    • WTVA: “Last Lockdown” Sculpture is a Parkland Father’s Plea to Voters
    • NBC4i Gun Control Advocates Create ‘The Last Lockdown’ Statue Series
    • KYW: Philadelphia City Hall Hosts Pop-up Statue Addressing Gun Violence in Schools
    • Spokesman-Review: ‘Last Lockdown’ Statues Unveiled in Spokane, One of 10 in cities Around Country
    • KTNV: Local Students Unveil Statue, Plan to Address Shootings and Guns in School
    • WPVI: Chilling Anti-gun Violence Statues Make Debut this Weekend