New $300,000 statewide digital campaign urges voters to bring gun safety champions to Richmond
October 9, 2019 – Following the devastating shooting in Virginia Beach, leadership in the Virginia General Assembly failed to pass any meaningful gun safety measures. With the entire legislature up for reelection this November, Giffords PAC announced today a new $300,000 ad campaign urging voters to elect a new General Assembly ready to protect Virginians from gun violence—not to continue the trend of inaction on gun safety.
The ads follow the recent Giffords endorsement of 41 gun safety champions in Virginia and a visit to the state by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to campaign for these newly endorsed candidates outside the headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and to rally their supporters in Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk.
“Voters in Virginia are primed to turn out this year on gun safety,” said Joanna Belanger, political director at Giffords. “With current state leadership paying lip service to the issue, this year Virginia voters will say ‘enough is enough.’ The status quo of thoughts and prayers is no longer acceptable, and these ads show just what’s at stake if elected leaders in the Commonwealth continue to block progress. This is an important moment for Virginia. Carrying gun safety champions to victory in November will be the first step in creating a safer Virginia free from the dangers of gun violence.”
WATCH THE AD: “VIRGINIA DESERVES GUN SAFETY”
WATCH THE AD: “IT’S TIME FOR GUN SAFETY IN VIRGINIA”
WATCH THE AD: “HELP KICK THE NRA OUT OF RICHMOND”
The $300,000 ad buy will run statewide through Election Day, heavily focused on the Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Virginia Beach areas. The campaign focuses on turning out Democratic voters for whom gun safety is a motivating factor in the wake of galling inaction by the Republican leadership during the recent special session that followed the shooting in Virginia Beach.
A recent Washington Post-Schar School poll finds gun safety is the top issue for Virginia voters ahead of the November elections: 75 percent of voters rank gun safety as their top issue in this year’s election. Among voters that rank gun safety as their top issue, 47 percent support Democratic candidates and 44 percent support Republican candidates. Gun safety policies such as universal background checks and extreme risk laws, each received 88 percent and 82 percent support, respectively.
The Republican majorities in both chambers of the Virginia legislature repeatedly ignored calls for change this summer by adjourning from a special legislative session following the Virginia Beach shooting two hours after convening without voting on a single gun safety bill. Previously, the Republican majority blocked over 50 gun safety bills in the past few legislative sessions alone, including legislation that could have prevented tragedies. For multiple consecutive legislative sessions, Republican leadership in the Virginia legislature refused to advance reasonable gun safety laws that would provide critical public safety protections to residents of the state despite voters overwhelmingly showing support for the passage of gun safety legislation.
The actions by those lawmakers to block comprehensive gun safety legislation come at a time when every 9 hours someone in Virginia is killed by a gun in a crisis costing the state $5.3 billion a year. Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard shows that states that have passed evidence-based gun safety reforms have the lowest rates of gun death and injury.