Press Release

In First Endorsement of 2019, Giffords Backs Dan Helmer and John Bell for the Virginia Legislature

March 22, 2019 – Giffords, the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, announced its first endorsements of the 2019 cycle, backing Dan Helmer for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 40th District and John Bell for State Senate District 13.

“Virginia wants leaders who don’t accept our gun violence crisis as normal,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “Dan Helmer and John Bell put their country first as members of the military and they are looking to do so again by serving their communities in Richmond. They might be running in the NRA’s backyard but they are not afraid to stand up to the gun lobby and fight every day for stronger gun laws. We know they will listen to the demands of Virginians who want to see action and will make it a priority to make our country a safer place to live, work, and play.”

Both Helmer and Bell are veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Helmer is an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who served as vice chair of VoteVets. He joined Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, on the campaign trail in 2018 for a Veterans Tour to support military veteran candidates running for office who committed to taking action on gun violence. Bell served as a member of the United States Air Force for almost 26 years, retiring as a major in 2007. He was elected to the House of Delegates in 2015 where he’s supported gun safety bills and pushed back against efforts to authorize concealed carry reciprocity for out-of-state license holders.

“Congresswoman Giffords’ leadership on public safety and reasonable gun laws is inspiring and will save tens of thousands of lives in coming years,” said Dan Helmer. “I’ve been proud to stand beside her to help elect candidates who put our safety ahead of the interests of the gun lobby, and I’m thankful to now be one of those candidates with her endorsement.  After this November’s election, we will finally pass responsible gun laws in Virginia that uphold the Second Amendment while protecting our community from violence.”

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Giffords,” said John Bell. “Gun violence prevention has been a consistent theme in all of my campaigns and in my career at the General Assembly. I look forward to continuing this important work with the support of Rep. Giffords in the Senate of Virginia.”

19.03 SOC VA Endorsements_Helmer and Bell

Related Resources:

Report: Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard found that Virginia received a “D.” Virginia did not enact any significant new gun laws in 2018 and passed dangerous gun laws, like allowing guns in schools, in 2019.

Fact Sheet: The State of Gun Violence in Virginia

Release: Gun Safety Wins in Virginia in 2018

Analysis: The Salience of Gun Safety in the 2017 Virginia Election