Press Release

Giffords PAC Fights to Elect Gun Safety Champions in Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts and New Mexico

November 7, 2017 — As voters head to the polls in states around the country, Giffords anticipates that gun safety will be among tonight’s winners. Candidates at every level of the ballot embraced gun safety as an issue of critical importance to voters, including in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey where the candidates endorsed by Giffords, Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy, shone a spotlight on their opponent’s decision to prioritize gun lobby profits over public safety.

Virginia

The issue of gun violence prevention has played a key issue in the Virginia statewide elections and in numerous House of Delegates races. In the governor’s race, Ralph Northam repeatedly touted his record as a consistent champion for gun safety and his commitment to advancing gun violence prevention policies in Richmond. Ed Gillespie, his opponent, tried to distort Northam’s record on gun safety, airing multiple misleading ads that made false accusations against Northam. It was an attempt to divert attention from his own record of promoting policies that would allow dangerous individuals to get guns. Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark Herring are all expected to win their races despite an onslaught of spending from the National Rifle Association totalling more than $3 million.

One week before election day, Giffords PAC, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, released a radio ad highlighting the difference between the two Virginia gubernatorial candidates on the issue of gun safety, and calling on voters to elect Ralph Northam on November 7.

The spot features clips of former President Barack Obama talking about the devastating toll gun violence is having on our communities. “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws, even in the face of repeated mass killings. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun,” Obama says in the ad.

The ad goes on to explain that Ralph Northam is the only candidate for governor who will take on the NRA. Northam will fight to make our communities safer and keep guns away from violent criminals. “Republican Ed Gillespie cares more about his NRA endorsement than the safety of our community,” the spot goes on to explain.

Listen to the ad here.

The radio ad is part of a larger voter education effort spearheaded by the gun safety group this election cycle. In coordination with the Virginia Democratic Party, Giffords PAC sent 165,000 Virginia household a letter from Gabby discussing the stakes in this election and what it means for gun violence prevention issues. This mail piece was complemented by a digital campaign featuring Facebook and Instagram ads targeting to 25,000 persuadable voters, with an accompanying website, letterfromgabby.com.

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Just five days after the worst mass-shooting in American history, Mark Kelly went to Virginia and demanded Ed Gillespie release his NRA questionnaire. Throughout his Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Ed Gillespie has touted his NRA endorsement, but has refused to disclose whether or not he would support the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda that threatens the safety of Virginia’s families and communities.

“Where Ralph Northam will work to improve public safety for all Virginians, Ed Gillespie has shown that he will be a rubber stamp for the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda. Ed Gillespie has received an A-rating from the National Rifle Association and has been endorsed by the NRA,” said Mark Kelly, co-founder of Giffords.But what remains unclear is what Ed Gillespie had to promise in order to get that endorsement. As governor, will Ed Gillespie support allowing guns in K-12 schools? As governor, will Ed Gillespie eliminate the permitting system for carrying concealed firearms, so that there is no background check and no safety training required? Does Ed Gillespie still want to protect the loopholes the let felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns without a background check — a loophole that 88 percent of Virginians favor closing?”

Just days before the election, the Virginia Citizens Defense League released Gillespie’s responses to their questionnaire, confirming his opposition to requiring background checks on all gun sales, his support for removing permitting requirements for carrying concealed and allowing people carrying concealed firearms to consume alcohol, among other dangerous policies.

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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. For the 2017 election cycle, Giffords PAC endorsed a number of gun violence prevention champions in Virginia, including:

Giffords campaigned 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. During the Virginia primary election, Giffords PAC hosted a gun violence prevention forum with the Democratic candidates.  Both campaigns attended and spoke extensively about their plans to make the commonwealth safer.

New Jersey

Giffords-endorsed candidate Phil Murphy for Governor of New Jersey has embraced gun safety as an important part of his vision for the state and has committed to be a leader on the issue as governor. Murphy’s opponent, Kim Guadagno, opposes enacting safer gun laws and is endorsed by the gun lobby. In the final days of the election, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly traveled to New Jersey to campaign with Murphy and his running mate, Sheila Oliver.

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Washington Special Election in LD-45: Manka Dhingra

In Washington, Giffords endorsed Manka Dhingra running to be elected to the Washington State Senate in a special election in Legislative District 45. Dhingra, a former prosecuting attorney, is running against Republican Jinyoung Englund, a former Heritage Foundation employee who failed to outline her vision to address gun violence.  Manka Dhingra made gun safety a central issue of her campaign, regularly pointing to her strong record of standing up for victims of domestic violence and sensible gun policy. This contest will determine control of the Washington State Senate.  

In addition to its endorsement, Giffords PAC partnered with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility on a digital, field and direct mail campaign, which targeted over 15,000 households.

Mayoral Races: Seattle, Albuquerque, Boston

With a Congress and White House unwilling to take steps to fight gun violence at the federal level, we need local and state leaders to take the lead more than ever and are going to stand with those who are committed to taking action. In Giffords first-ever round of mayoral endorsements, candidates across the country are poised for victory.

Jenny Durkan, running for Seattle Mayor, is a former U.S. Attorney who worked to make Washington communities safer from gun violence. She is committed to making Seattle a leader in the fight against gun violence and using her experience as a prosecutor to challenge Washington’s pre-emption laws in the courts.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is an incumbent champion who has made reducing gun violence in Boston central to his mission as mayor. Since his time in office, both violent and property crime have gone down, over 3,000 guns have been removed from Boston’s streets, and the third Annual Regional Gun Summit has been convened, bringing together mayors and chiefs of police from all over New England to share best practices.

Tim Keller, running for Albuquerque Mayor, has outlined a bold plan to combat gun violence in the city. His opponent, Dan Lewis, is endorsed by the NRA and opposes commonsense gun laws. Voters head to the polls in Albuquerque on Tuesday, November 14th.