Historic forum will be held on October 2, 2019, one day after the second anniversary of the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting
August 1, 2019 — Today, Giffords and March For Our Lives announced a partnership to host the nation’s first ever presidential forum dedicated to addressing gun violence in America. The event will take place on October 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, one day after the second anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in recent American history. On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of people attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival from the 32nd-story window of the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800.
In organizing this forum, Giffords and March for Our Lives will provide candidates with a meaningful opportunity to directly engage voters and present their plans to address America’s gun violence epidemic. Democratic candidates who are eligible to participate in Democratic presidential debates this fall will be invited to participate in the forum. Additional logistical and format details will be announced in the weeks leading up to the event.
“Never before has our country had a presidential forum singularly dedicated to the issue of addressing gun violence, but this year, we’re changing that,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “If we’re serious about tackling the biggest problems facing our country, we need serious conversations about solutions. This forum will create an important opportunity for candidates concerned about gun violence to speak with voters about their plans to make our country a safer place to live, work, learn, and play.”
“Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we have organized and demanded that elected officials in Washington and across the country take action to end gun violence in every form in every community, especially those ravaged by endemic violence,” said David Hogg, co-founder of March For Our Lives. “It’s our hope that the candidates come to Las Vegas prepared to discuss bold and holistic plans, like restorative justice, to end gun violence epidemic and its root causes. We have to look at the totality of the problem, not just mass shootings that too often capture the media’s attention, but suicides and other forms of gun violence that go unreported. The vast majority of Americans are ready and have been waiting for common sense gun reforms. They too believe enough is enough.”
Gun deaths in the United States have reached their highest level in almost 40 years, with nearly 40,000 Americans killed by a gun in 2017. The ripple effects of this crisis have been felt by communities across the country. The American public has been subjected to repeated mass shootings in schools and other civic spaces. Too often, communities of color disproportionately bear the continued impact and trauma of our nation’s gun violence epidemic.
Calls from voters to address gun violence in the Democratic primary continue to deepen. Following the 2018 midterms, NBC exit polling found that gun policy ranked as the #2 issue for Democratic voters, behind health care and ahead of the economy and immigration. The 2018 midterms saw the highest participation of young voters aged 18–29 in the past 25 years, with gun violence and the fear of school shootings a top issue driving their decision to vote in 2018. With Americans ready to take action, candidates are finally coming around.
In a remarkable shift, Democrats in the 2018 election ran on robust gun violence prevention platforms and took back the House of Representatives, in part because of increased voter focus on this issue. That change included a 22-fold increase from the last midterms in the number of ad spots promoting safer gun laws. In the summer of 2016, only 4 of 36 Red-to-Blue candidates backed stronger gun laws in their platforms for the 2016 campaigns. But by July of 2018, 38 of the 59 Red-to-Blue Democrats supported gun safety in their official platforms.
Like every state in our nation, Nevada has been severely impacted by the gun violence crisis in ways that extend far beyond the tragedy of lives lost. Prior to the mass shooting on October 1, 2017, the annual economic cost of gun violence in Nevada was $2.3 billion. According to a report from Giffords Law Center, the Las Vegas massacre increased that toll by 26 percent. The report, The Las Vegas Massacre’s $600 Million Financial Toll, highlights how after the shooting, victims, businesses, and Las Vegas residents continue to struggle under the economic burden of our nation’s deadliest mass shooting.