In a pivotal election year, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords chatted with US Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield about their shared values and vision for gun safety—and how much is at stake in 2020.
GABBY: You and I both grew up around guns and understand what it means to be responsible gun owners. How do you explain to voters how gun safety laws like universal background checks and respect for the Second Amendment go hand in hand?
THERESA: I grew up on my family’s farm, where I learned to shoot and all about safe and responsible gun ownership. I loved it when my dad would throw skeet on weekends—mainly because I was better than my brothers. I know Iowans are responsible gun owners—and there are many commonsense solutions that we all can agree on to prevent gun violence. That means keeping guns out of the hands of criminals who shouldn’t have them. As I’ve traveled across the state of Iowa, I have heard from countless moms and dads, plenty of whom are gun owners themselves, who tell me they’re afraid for their kids and know we need to do more to keep our communities safe.
GABBY: We both know something about persevering through life’s unexpected hardships and tragedies. When you lost your husband to a tragic accident, was there a particular piece of advice that helped you keep going as a young widow and single mother?
THERESA: I was just 24 when my first husband died, with a little one and another on the way. My family, friends and community, along with the help of Social Security survivor benefits and hard-earned union benefits, lifted me up and helped me get back on my feet. Even as a young widow and single mother, I was never alone and it was a great reminder that in our hometowns no one stands alone. And that lesson is just as important today, a reminder that to get through tough times we need to come together and look out for each other.
GABBY: Iowans, and Americans across the country, are demanding action on gun safety measures like universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders. If you’re elected to the Senate, what will be your top gun safety priorities?
THERESA: We need to take sensible action to prevent gun violence. First, we need to pass bipartisan legislation to expand background checks. Our communities and our children deserve action now. We should also close the gun show loophole and the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” It is also critical that we invest in gun violence research and let it tell us what the necessary next steps are. I’m committed to working together to find solutions to ensure we address gun violence.
GABBY: During her time in office your opponent, Joni Ernst, has taken money from special interests and then voted with them in the Senate. The NRA is one of the most powerful special interests groups in our country. What do you say to elected officials who take NRA money and oppose gun safety legislation that has over 90% support?
THERESA: Bipartisan pieces of legislation to prevent gun violence, like expanded background checks, are not only popular, but they save lives. But unfortunately, on all of the biggest challenges we’re facing, we’re not going to get results until we end political corruption. I’m not taking a dime of corporate PAC money and I have a plan to overturn Citizen United, ban dark money, ban corporate PACs, and stop members of Congress from becoming lobbyists.
GABBY: This is a difficult time for all of us. A few things that have helped me cope are going for socially distanced bike rides, taking French horn lessons, and checking in on my friends. Do you and your family have any favorite coping strategies?
THERESA: While I’ve been staying busy on the campaign trail, by holding virtual meet and greets and listening to Iowans from all over the state, I’ve also been sure to make time to check in with my family and friends. To stay active, my family and I have enjoyed taking daily walks with our dog, Ringo. I’ve also spent time working on my kitchen garden—growing beets, onions, and spinach, just to name a few.