Press Release

LETTER: Leaders from Giffords Veterans Coalition Warn Gun Violence is a National Security Threat, Demand Senate Immediately Return to Pass Background Checks  

After renewed outcries to address gun violence, members of Giffords Veterans Coalition urge Senate Leadership to pass bipartisan universal background checks

VIDEO: Veterans stress weak gun safety laws putting Americans in harm’s way  

August 19, 2019 — Members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition warned gun violence is a national security threat and demanded the Senate immediately return to pass background checks. In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the 12 military leaders called for the Senate to debate HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, legislation that will require a background check on every gun sale. The veterans pointed to the urgency of the issue by noting that 100 Americans are killed each day by gunfire.

The letter reads: “Passing stronger gun laws is not only the right thing to do—it’s critical to our national security. It is painful and tragic to fight for our security abroad only to return home and confront a country torn by hate and awash in unregulated guns. The power of this country has always come from embracing our diversity. Together, we stand; divided, we fall.”

In addition to the letter, the coalition also released a new video encouraging Americans to join them in calling for background checks

Their push comes as pressure mounts on the Senate to return and debate gun safety legislation. Majorities of Americans consistently support a background check on every gun sale. The Giffords Veterans Coalition were part of the successful effort to encourage the House of Representatives to pass meaningful gun safety legislation for the first time in over a decade.

The coalition will continue to highlight 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.

Members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition who signed the letter include:

General Peter W. Chiarelli, USA (Ret.)
General Michael Hayden, USAF (Ret.)
General James T. Hill, USA (Ret.)
Admiral James Loy, USCG (Ret.)
General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Norman R. Seip, USAF (Ret.)
Commander Carlos Del Toro, USN (Ret.)
Captain Terron Sims, II, USA (Ret.)
Shawn VanDiver, USN (Ret.)

The Giffords Veterans Coalition is a national network of America’s veterans who advocate for evidence-based changes to our laws that will make our communities safer from gun violence. In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton – only 13 hours apart –  members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition sent a letter to Congressional leaders called on Congress to demonstrate “statesmanlike leadership and moral courage across party lines” and vote in the interests of their constituents.

The Coalition is focused on engaging other veterans, elected leaders, and non-traditional allies by:

  • Urging our elected leaders to close the loopholes in our background check laws that let individuals with violent criminal histories, domestic abusers, and people prohibited due to mental health reasons buy guns without a criminal background check.
  • Strengthening existing laws and ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent gun tragedies.
  • Partnering with other groups in the veterans community on suicide prevention and mental health.

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.