Press Release

While Active Shooter Drills Have Become Routine, Congressman John Culberson Remains on the Side of the Gun Lobby

New Ad to Air in Texas as Part of $1.1 Million Campaign from GiffordsPAC Revealing the Choice for TX-07 Voters on Gun Safety

October 17, 2018 — As part of a new $1.1 million ad campaign highlighting the choice TX-07 voters have when it comes to protecting students from gun violence, Giffords PAC, the gun safety organization founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly, released a new ad detailing Congressman John Culberson’s record of taking money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) while voting for weaker gun laws. During Culberson’s term, active shooter drills and lockdowns have become a routine part of the school day. The ad comes at a time where voters in states like Texas are increasingly asking what their elected officials are doing to keep guns out of dangerous hands. Culberson has an A (or A+) grade from the NRA.

“The NRA doesn’t think twice about John Culberson: they know he will always vote for their priorities over protecting public safety every time they come calling,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director at Giffords. “We now live in a country where a majority of our children are scared that their school will be the next site of a school shooting, yet Rep. Culberson continues to cash checks from gun lobby and votes to weaken gun laws. Culberson’s record backs it up: he voted in favor of letting untrained people carry concealed guns in his district. Shooting drills have become a routine part of American students’ lives because of the failed leadership of politicians like Culberson. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can protect our kids by bringing leaders like Lizzie Pannill-Fletcher to Congress who will always stand up for them and never be bought by the NRA.”

The ad campaign focused on Texas’s seventh congressional district will run on broadcast and cable through election day with a programmatic focus on women voters. It is part of a larger Giffords PAC program investment in ads to vote out gun lobby-backed politicians and bring gun safety champions to Congress. Reflecting the clear demand for action from Americans on the issue of gun violence, Giffords PAC has run ads in MN-02, CO-06, VA-10, spending at least a million dollars in each of these races.

Watch “This Isn’t a Drill”

Ad Transcript:
“During the Cold War, America’s children practiced duck and cover.
Today, our children huddle in supply closets hoping the next school shooter doesn’t take aim at them.

Why? Because Washington politicians like John Culberson take tens of thousands from the NRA and then vote against our safety.

Culberson voted to weaken gun safety laws and even opposes background checks on all gun sales.

This isn’t a drill.”

Gun safety continues to be a key issue for voters deciding who to elect this November. This year the issue has surged in campaign ads. Ads promoting stricter gun regulations have 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. Recent research proves why we are seeing more ads – a poll in key battleground districts, including TX-07, shows that a Democrat’s lead in a generic ballot jumps 7 points, from 3 points to 10 when gun violence prevention is added.

That puts Rep. John Culberson in danger of losing as he has accepted more than $75,000 in campaign contributions from the gun lobby and votes in lockstep with their agenda. In the wake of the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Rep. Culberson voted for the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill that was opposed by law enforcement, including Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. If passed into law, the bill would require Texas to allow people with violent misdemeanors, including stalkers and domestic abusers, to carry concealed, loaded guns in public.

Lizzie Pannill-Fletcher, a Giffords-endorsed candidate challenging Culberson, has spent her legal career standing up for the families of Houston and now wants to take the fight to the gun lobby in Washington in order to help keep her community safe. Lizzie supports common-sense measures to reduce gun violence like requiring background checks on all gun sales and closing gaps in current laws that allow convicted domestic abusers to get their hands on firearms.

Background on the Giffords 2018 Political Program

Giffords initially began our political program this year 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 the pledge.

Following the #VoteCourage pledge, Giffords officially kicked off its robust political program to shine a light on incumbents’ records of prioritizing the interests of the gun industry over public safety and encourage voters to support candidates with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby. Along with the digital advertisements and the website database, the program includes TV advertising, on-the-ground organizing and events, and a voter registration push.

In April, Giffords launched a partnership with NextGen America, Everytown for Gun Safety, and ACRONYM focused around a voter registration effort that is committing an initial $1.5 million to try to get up to 50,000 Americans aged 18–19 registered for the midterm elections.

Giffords also expanded its candidate training program to help educate candidates who want to run on a gun safety platform.

Giffords PAC has already launched three million dollar ad campaigns in districts critical to taking back the House of Representatives. The campaigns started with an investment of a $1 million in VA-10 to defeat Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, whose district is the backyard of the NRA headquarters. The first ad featured Gabby Giffords herself, directly taking on the NRA and Comstock. This week, Giffords PAC also went up with a $1.3 million ad campaign in the Minneapolis media market highlighting how Congressman Jason Lewis has consistently sided with the gun lobby over his constituents.

Finally, it launched a nearly $1.5 million ad campaign in Colorado underscoring the choice Colorado voters have before them this election when it comes to gun safety. In a new ad that debuted on Monday, the organization broadcast every American parents’ worst nightmare—losing a child—onto their TV screens, and reminded them that NRA-backed politicians like Congressman Mike Coffman haven’t done anything to prevent this nightmare from becoming reality.

The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, crystallized the country’s frustration with the lack of action to pass gun safety laws. 2016 saw the highest gun death rate since 1997. 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 decisively across the country – from statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey to a key state senate seat in Washington State. The elections sparked what has become known as the suburban rebellion in the districts that will determine 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 make the difference for Democrats in key swing districts, particularly because support for stronger gun laws remains high and the NRA’s favorability is on a downward trend.

###