Nearly $750,000 Buy Calls Out Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner for Blocking Vote on Background Checks
August 9, 2019— In the wake of this week’s horrific mass shootings, Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced a new, nearly $750,000 ad campaign pressuring the Senate to hold a vote on the bipartisan background checks bill, passed by the House of Representatives over 160 days ago. Released today, the first two ads will hit media markets this weekend in Kentucky and Colorado and specifically call out Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). The ads, which illustrate the devastating impact gun violence is having on our families, calls out both Senators for failing to support HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.
The new ad campaign builds on former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ call to action earlier this week, in which she demanded the Senate come back from August recess to take action on gun laws: “President Donald Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must call the Senate back from August recess immediately. We cannot afford to wait another day for lawmakers to address this horrific national public safety threat.” In the hours and days that followed, other leaders echoed Gabby’s call for the Senate to return from recess, including many of the Democratic presidential candidates.
“Senate Republicans have witnessed tragedy after tragedy but blocked a vote on background checks,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Giffords.“Families across America are living in fear that gunmen will attack them at their malls, churches, movie theaters, and schools. Americans have had enough. They’re demanding action and they’re expecting change. Senate Republicans can either protect the gun lobby and its profits from dangerous gun sales or they can hold a vote on background checks to protect their constituents.”
WATCH THE COLORADO AD: “Active Shooter Plans”
WATCH THE KENTUCKY AD: “Dear Mr. McConnell”
Mitch McConnell has been one of the gun lobby’s top allies on Capitol Hill over the course of his 34-year career in the Senate. He has consistently blocked bipartisan solutions to American’s gun violence crisis and offered nothing but empty condolences in the wake of horrific shootings. The NRA has rewarded McConnell richly for his loyalty, giving him an ‘A+’ rating for his last reelection campaign in 2014. McConnell has also benefited from more than $1.2 million in NRA spending over his decades in office.
Cory Gardner’s extreme fealty to the gun lobby makes him an outlier in a state that has repeatedly strengthened its gun laws in recent years in response to America’s gun violence crisis. The NRA has consistently given Gardner ‘A’ ratings and has spent nearly $4 million to keep him in Washington. The investment has paid off: In 2018, Gardner even attempted to block a modest proposal to improve records reporting to background check system that otherwise enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Background on Giffords Efforts to Pass H.R. 8
H.R. 8 was introduced on January 8th, which also marked the eighth anniversary of the Tucson shooting. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Thompson for a press conference on Capitol Hill to unveil the legislation. In the weeks since, Giffords has been publicly advocating for swift passage of the bill. Giffords elevated the voices of Americans demanding action by teaming up with March for Our Lives, Town Hall Project, TOMS, and Levi’s to host a nationwide series of Gun Safety Town Halls rallying support for H.R. 8.
Giffords Law Center Executive Director Robyn Thomas testified before the House Judiciary Committee urging swift passage of H.R. 8. She also spoke at the last gun violence prevention hearing held in the House, over a decade ago.
The Giffords Law Enforcement Coalition sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them to pass the lifesaving legislation. Signed by 15 law enforcement leaders from across the country, the letter illustrated the urgent need to close loopholes in America’s background checks system that endanger communities, including the thousands of law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line every day for our public safety.
Members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition sent a letter to congressional leadership highlighting the fact that horrific mass shootings and the daily toll of gun violence have left Americans feeling less safe and called on Congress to close loopholes in the country’s background check system that leave communities in danger. These 13 top veteran military leaders point out why immediate action is needed as the gun death rate in America has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years.
On February 27, the House passed HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, to require a background check on every gun sale or transfer. A day later they cleared HR 1112, The Enhanced Background Checks Act, to provide the FBI additional time to complete background checks and prevent prohibited people from obtaining guns. Leader McConnell has since blocked the passage of HR 8, refusing to bring any proposals from the other chamber up for debate or consideration.