As Part of the #VoteCourage Campaign, the 9 Incumbents Endorsed Today are Running to Bring Gun Safety to Congress
October 3, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, announced its endorsement slate of nine incumbents for reelection to Congress. These candidates are part of the Giffords #VoteCourage campaign to elect gun reform candidates nationwide.
Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:
“A year ago, America suffered its deadliest mass shooting. 58 people lost their lives to a gunman armed with assault weapons outfitted with bump stocks. Last year we also learned the number of people killed with guns in our country skyrocketed to a level not seen in decades. But since that time, our current Congress has failed to pass any meaningful legislation to reduce gun violence and save lives. They’ve done nothing to prevent the over 38,000 people in our country killed by a gun.
“The Members of Congress we are endorsing today acknowledge the devastating toll of our nation’s gun violence crisis, and they are working to combat it. Their leadership will be critical for our next victories if we elect a Congress willing to take on the gun epidemic. Giffords is proud to endorse today’s candidates, who have the courage to stand up to the corporate gun lobby and are ready to make our communities safer.”
With today’s announcement, Giffords is continuing its effort to make sure that when a new Congress is seated next year, a majority is committed to addressing the issue of gun violence by supporting laws that are proven to save lives. 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. Giffords campaigns 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.
Today’s Giffords Endorsements include:
- Jim Himes (CT-04): Congressman Jim Himes is an outspoken advocate for taking action to end gun violence. He supports expanding background checks on all gun sales, restarting federal research into gun violence, repealing legal immunity for the gun industry, and banning assault weapons. Congressman Himes also introduced legislation to encourage the development of firearm safety technology, which help keeps guns out of the hands of unauthorized users. In December, Congressman Himes voted against dangerous concealed carry legislation—the gun lobby’s number one priority.
- Bill Nelson (FL-Sen): Senator Bill Nelson’s home state of Florida has seen several tragic instances of gun violence in recent years, including the 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the 2017 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport, the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and at a gaming convention in Jacksonville. Because of this, Senator Nelson is determined to pass laws to make communities safer. Senator Nelson supports legislation to enact universal background checks, require all firearms to be traceable by law enforcement, ban assault weapons and bump stocks, and prevent domestic abusers and stalkers from possessing firearms. He has also introduced legislation to prevent downloadable guns from being posted online.
- Jan Schakowsky (IL-09): Congresswoman Schakowsky has been an advocate for gun violence prevention throughout her entire career. In Congress, she has stood up to the corporate gun lobby and their dangerous agenda: last December, Congresswoman Schakowsky voted against dangerous concealed carry legislation—the gun lobby’s number one priority. Congresswoman Schakowsky has been a strong proponent for lifesaving policy solutions, like passing stronger background checks, ensuring domestic abusers and stalkers cannot access firearms, and preventing gun trafficking.
- Katherine Clark (MA-05): Since her election in 2013, Congresswoman Katherine Clark has consistently supported legislation to prevent gun violence and make communities safer. In Washington, Congresswoman Clark supports bills to expand background checks and allow the temporary removal of firearms from people who are a danger to themselves and others. Congresswoman Clark also supports legislation to ban assault weapons, require firearms to be traceable by law enforcement, restart federal research into gun violence, repeal legal immunity for the gun industry, and prevent domestic abusers and stalkers from possessing guns. In the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, Congresswoman Clark helped lead a sit-in on the House floor in protest of the body’s failure to vote on gun safety measures.
- Seth Moulton (MA-06): As a Marine veteran, Congressman Seth Moulton understands how gun violence harms American communities. Congressman Moulton supports expanding background checks, enacting extreme risk protection orders, preventing domestic abusers and stalkers from possessing firearms, restarting federal research into gun violence, and banning assault weapons and bump stocks. Congressman Moulton also helped introduce legislation to require that all firearms be traceable by law enforcement, and in December, voted against dangerous concealed carry reciprocity legislation—the gun lobby’s number one priority.
- Annie Kuster (NH-02): Congresswoman Annie Kuster knows that reducing gun violence is an achievable goal. Congresswoman Kuster has supported legislation which would expand background checks, prevent domestic abusers and stalkers from possessing firearms, and restart federal research into gun violence. Just last year, Congresswoman Kuster voted against concealed carry reciprocity—the gun lobby’s top legislative priority.
- Sheldon Whitehouse (RI-Sen): Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is a former US Attorney and attorney general for Rhode Island who has a long history of working to advance gun safety. Senator Whitehouse supports legislation to expand background checks, prevent downloadable guns from being posted online, require all firearms to be traceable by law enforcement, ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines, and prevent stalkers and domestic abusers from possessing guns. Senator Whitehouse has also voted against concealed carry reciprocity—the gun lobby’s top priority.
- David Cicilline (RI-01): Before his election to Congress, Congressman David Cicilline was one of the founding members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Congressman Cicilline has supported legislation to expand background checks, enact extreme risk protection orders, restart federal research into gun violence, prevent domestic abusers and stalkers from possessing guns, repeal legal immunity for the gun industry, and prevent downloadable guns from being posted online. This year, Congressman Cicilline introduced legislation to ban assault weapons and require all firearms to be traceable by law enforcement. Congressman Cicilline has also repeatedly voted against dangerous concealed carry reciprocity legislation—the gun lobby’s number one priority.
- Jim Langevin (RI-02): Congressman Jim Langevin has been an avid supporter of gun safety during his nearly 30 years of public service. Congressman Langevin supports legislation to expand background checks, allow the temporary removal of firearms from people who pose a danger to themselves or others, ban assault weapons, restart federal research into gun violence, and prevent domestic abusers and stalkers from possessing guns. Congressman Langevin has also introduced legislation to prevent children from being injured by guns in their homes and to require regular inspections of firearms dealers. Congressman Langevin has voted against legislation which gives legal immunity to the gun industry, and has voted against concealed carry reciprocity legislation—currently the gun lobby’s top legislative priority—multiple times.
Background of the Giffords 2018 Political Program
The initial step of the 2018 political program began in the hours after the Parkland shooting, when Giffords used #VoteCourage to get people to pledge to support midterm candidates 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 ongoing, robust political program to shine a light on incumbents’ record 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 seek 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.
The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, crystallized the country’s frustration with the federal lack of action on gun safety. 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 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 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.