While students head back to active shooter drills, the Senate is still on vacation.
Voters in Colorado have had enough. Last night, Gabby Giffords teamed up with Representatives Jason Crow, Joe Neguse, and Ed Perlmutter, as well as March For Our Lives Colorado and Colorado Ceasefire, to host a town hall demanding the US Senate take action on background checks.
There was a lot of courage in this room tonight. It’s unfortunate @SenCoryGardner isn’t here to see it.
Colorado families are scared to send their kids back to school, but they’re not afraid to speak out: We need leaders to find the courage to pass stronger gun laws. #copolitics pic.twitter.com/HDI8pSqK0C
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) August 27, 2019
The elected officials in attendance emphasized the urgency of this crisis and the need for immediate action at the federal level. “Citizenship has rights and privileges,” said Congressman Jason Crow, “but citizenship also has duties and responsibilities.”
Congressman Joe Neguse was a high school student in Colorado at the time of the 1999 Columbine shooting. Late last spring, his kindergartner niece survived the shooting at STEM School. “Colorado is no stranger to tragedies and to gun violence in our communities,” he said.
Time after time, lawmakers in Colorado have taken on the gun lobby and won. After the Aurora shooting in 2012, Colorado passed background checks on all private sales. In April, Colorado passed an extreme risk protection order, which allows for the temporary removal of guns from individuals who pose a demonstrated risk to themselves or others.
Now Coloradans are calling on the US Senate—including Colorado Senator Cory Gardner—to do their job and make the country safer by extending lifesaving measures to all states in the nation.
Americans want universal background checks.
Since Gabby Giffords called out the Senate in the immediate aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, we’ve kept the pressure on. The town hall followed the release of two ads in Colorado urging the Senate to hold a vote on the bipartisan background checks bill. The ads, part of a $750,000 campaign, illustrate the devastating impact gun violence is having on our families and calls out Senator Cory Gardner for failing to support H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.
Gardner’s extreme allegiance to the gun lobby puts him out of step with his own state, which has repeatedly strengthened its gun laws in recent years, leading the response to America’s gun violence crisis.
The NRA has consistently given Gardner ‘A’ ratings and has spent nearly $4 million to keep him in Washington. The investment has paid off: In 2018, Gardner even attempted to block a modest proposal to improve records reporting to the background check system that otherwise enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support.
Responsible gun owners are standing up for safety.
Giffords Senior Advisor David Chipman previously served as an ATF special agent for 25 years. He sees no conflict between Second Amendment rights and commonsense gun laws.
“If you can’t sacrifice five minutes to pass a background check to save your neighbor, you’re no patriot.”
Chipman wasn’t the only gun owner in attendance.
In January, Giffords launched Colorado Gun Owners for Safety, a coalition that brings together hunters, sport shooters, and collectors who support commonsense gun laws. With additional chapters in Minnesota and Texas, Gun Owners for Safety aims to promote responsible gun ownership and hold those who seek to profit at the expense of public safety accountable.
Vic Bencomo, a hunter,veteran, and the president of Colorado Gun Owners for Safety, emphasized his support for extreme risk protection orders and other lifesaving gun laws at the town hall. “I believe that we can pass sensible gun laws without infringing on the Second Amendment, and without infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners,” said Vic.
Our young people won’t tolerate inaction.
Kiki Lebya was a teacher at Columbine High School during the devastating 1999 mass shooting, and is still a teacher there today. Like so many of his students, Kiki is fed up with the cowardice of legislators who continue to ignore their constituents’ cries for help.
“We’re either preparing for the next mass shooting, or we’re working to prevent the next mass shooting.”
Emi Ambory, the executive director of March for Our Lives Colorado, had just come from her first day as a freshman at Colorado University.
She spoke on our panel about the frustration she and so many of her peers experience: “It feels unfair that there are adults out there telling us how we should think or feel, because the burden is on us. We know what we want—it’s up to the adults to listen to us.”
— emi (@emilyambory) August 27, 2019
Colorado State Senator Rhonda Fields, who lost her son to gun violence in 2005, spoke about the pain of losing a child to gun violence, and her determination to persist in this fight. “I believe that the legislation we have passed in the state of Colorado has truly saved lives,” she said.
The courageous elected officials, survivors, and activists who gathered in Aurora last night to demand action aren’t letting up—and neither are we.
“This is a long battle that we’ve been fighting,” said Congressman Ed Perlmutter, “but it’s one that we will win.”
If you’re sick of inaction too, here’s one thing you can do right now:
Text MITCH to 90975
We’ll connect you to your Senators—tell them you demand a vote on H.R.8, the bipartisan background checks bill that passed the House of Representatives in February.