September 24, 2018 – Giffords PAC, the political arm of the gun safety organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Navy Combat Veteran and former Astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, announced today a nearly $1.5 million ad campaign underscoring the choice Colorado voters have before them this election when it comes to gun safety. As part of the campaign, the organization released a gut-wrenching new ad, which broadcasts every American parents’ worst nightmare onto their TV screens – and reminds them that NRA-backed politicians, like Congressman Mike Coffman, aren’t doing anything to prevent it from happening in real life.
“The failed leadership of Rep. Mike Coffman and other NRA-backed leaders in Congress have contributed to this country’s tragic inability to keep our kids safe from gun violence,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords. “Horrified parents are hearing their children describe what it’s like to live through lockdown drills, and all too often active shooter situations. Voters are tired of career politicians, like Rep. Coffman, protecting special interests like the NRA, but failing to take any action to protect communities from gun violence. In six weeks Colorado voters will have the opportunity to turn their outrage into action when they vote Rep. Coffman out of office and elect in his place a Congressman who will dedicate his time in office to protecting public safety, Jason Crow.”
The ad released today by Giffords PAC features a text conversation between a fictional mother and child during a school lockdown.
Child: “Someone has a gun and they can’t find him.”
Mother: “A gun???? Are you ok?”
Child: “Yeah but I’m scared. I wish you were here.”
Mother: “I’m on my way…Try to stay quiet”
When the child types, but does not send a message, the mother asks, “Sweetie?” then types, “Keep talking to me I’ll be there very soon.”
Despite the fact that the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting occurred within his district, Congressman Coffman has positioned himself adamantly against efforts to strengthen America’s gun laws, a fact for which he was harshly censured by constituents at a town hall this year. Congressman Mike Coffman has the enthusiastic backing of the NRA for his support of concealed carry reciprocity and loosening restrictions of interstate gun sales. Coffman has an “A” rating from the NRA and has accepted more money from them than any other member of Congress from Colorado.
Just last week, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly traveled to Colorado as part of the Giffords Veterans Tour to campaign with Coffman’s challenger, Jason Crow. A veteran who served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and the 75th Ranger Regiment, Crow knows the devastation that guns in dangerous hands can cause and has called on Congress take up and pass commonsense laws to reduce gun violence, and block dangerous legislation like the deregulation of silencers. Crow has pledged not only to never take a dime from the gun lobby, but to refuse all corporate PAC contributions.
The number of ads promoting stronger gun laws have dramatically increased this year as compared to the midterm elections four years ago. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal,102,636 pro-gun control ads ran from Jan. 1 to Sept. 9, 22 times more than in 2014. The increase follows a number of mass shootings, including three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history and the rise of the student-led “March for Our Lives” movement.
Giffords PAC has already invested nearly $1 million in VA-10 to defeat Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. Comstock’s district is the backyard of the NRA headquarters and the first ad featured Gabby Giffords, herself, directly taking on the NRA and Comstock.
Background on the 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 thepledge.
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, Everytown for Gun safety, and ACRONYM 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 senateseat 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.