Press Release

RELEASE: Former Air Force Pilot, NRA Sharpshooter Exposes Rep. Jason Lewis for Siding with Gun Lobby Over Public Safety

New Ad to Air in Minnesota as Part of $1.3 Million Campaign from GiffordsPAC Revealing the Choice for MN-02 Voters on Gun Safety

October 3, 2018 — As part of a $1.3 million ad campaign highlighting the choice MN-02 voters have on gun safety, Giffords PAC, the gun safety organization founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly, released a new ad featuring Burnsville, Minnesota resident Bob Mokos, a former Air Force pilot, NRA sharpshooter, and gun owner. In Mr. Mokos’ own voice, the ad makes clear that Congressman Jason Lewis has taken gun lobby contributions while voting to weaken gun laws, putting students and families at risk.

 “I’m a former Air Force pilot, an NRA sharpshooter, and a gun owner, and I’ll be the first to say the gun laws in our nation are not strong enough because politicians, like Congressman Jason Lewis, are too busy taking money from the corporate gun lobby and weakening our gun laws,” said Minnesota resident, Bob Mokos. “Every day in America, 96 Americans die because of guns. The day my sister died is a day I’ll never forget. All I can do is learn to live with the pain and try my best to stop this kind of tragedy from happening to another family.”

Watch “Sharpshooter

Ad Transcript:

“I’m a former Air Force pilot, and I flew for the airlines for 33 years. And I’m a gun owner. I was an NRA sharpshooter, actually.

I know what can happen when a dangerous person gets their hands on a weapon.
My sister was murdered with a gun.

Too many politicians take corporate gun lobby money, like Congressman Jason Lewis.

He took their money and voted to weaken our gun laws. I worry that makes it more likely for what happened to my family, to happen to someone else.”

The $1.3 million ad campaign focused on Minnesota’s second congressional district will run through October 11 on broadcast, cable and digital platforms in the Minneapolis media market. The first ad in this campaign was released last week, and shows how Minnesota Congressman Jason Lewis consistently sides with Washington special interests over the safety of Minnesotans, voting against commonsense gun safety. 

Watch “Who’s On Your Side?

“Jason Lewis was once referred to as ‘Minnesota’s Greatest Proponent of Anything-Goes Gun Laws.’ That’s not a title earned by listening to your constituents, but one given if you pick up the phone every time the NRA calls,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director at Giffords. “Lewis’ record proves this allegiance: he cares more about letting untrained people carry concealed guns in his district than he does about the safety of the communities he represents. After multiple workplace shootings this week, Minnesotans want to know what their leaders will do to combat this threat of gun violence. With Jason Lewis, they shouldn’t expect much. That’s why Congress needs leaders like Angie Craig who will work to protect our neighbors and loved ones from guns.”

Jason Lewis’ abysmal record on gun safety includes voting in favor of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill that would make it legal for more dangerous and untrained people to carry loaded, concealed guns in public places. Lewis also has opposed commonsense gun safety laws such as universal background checks and has even voted to roll back restrictions on gun purchases by those deemed mentally unfit. While in Congress, Jason Lewis has received an A-rating from the National Rifle Association and has accepted more than $10,000 from the gun lobby.

Angie Craig, a Giffords-endorsed candidate challenging Lewis in the Second Congressional District, supports effective solutions to reduce our nation’s gun violence epidemic. As a mother of four sons, two of whom are avid hunters, Angie understands the need to balance Second Amendment rights with responsible gun safety laws. She supports lifting the ban on Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research into gun violence, along with passing universal background checks and making assault weapons and bump stocks illegal. Above all, she’s fed up with the senseless violence being perpetrated by lax gun safety laws in a state with the seventh highest gun death rate in the country.

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.