As lifelong public servants in their first term in Congress, these candidates never stopped fighting for a safer America
Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, announced endorsements for nine freshmen members of Congress, all with military or national security backgrounds, seeking re-election. During their campaigns for office in 2018, each committed to making the fight to save lives from gun violence a core part of their first term. In Congress, they followed through by passing legislation to protect Americans impacted by our nation’s gun violence crisis. Their efforts include helping the House pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, the first significant gun reform bill to get congressional approval in decades.
Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:
“These leaders understand the true meaning of service. They signed up for dangerous jobs and tours of duty because they wanted to keep our country safe. Each realized they could put their experience to good use in the halls of Congress, where the concerns of too many Americans were being ignored.
“The NRA’s favorite politicians were no match for candidates not afraid to turn down gun lobby money and commit to fighting for gun safety. Once elected, these champions fearlessly pushed forward, making the fight for gun violence prevention a signature issue for the Congressional majority. Because of their efforts, Congress passed historic legislation, H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. They know the fight isn’t done. We’ve got their backs so we can continue to have a gun safety majority in Congress.”
These lifelong public servants of the 116th Congress took monumental steps to advance lifesaving gun violence prevention legislation. H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, was one of the first pieces of legislation introduced in 2019, passing through the full House in the weeks after it was introduced. Congress similarly appropriated $25 million in gun violence research funding, and the House held more than a dozen hearings with gun violence as the main focus.
Today’s Giffords Endorsements include:
Gil Cisneros (CA-39): Congressman Gil Cisneros is in his first term representing California’s 39th District, a diverse and historically conservative area of southern California. The son of a cafeteria worker and a Vietnam War veteran, Congressman Cisneros served 11 years as an officer in the Navy. Like too many families across the country, Congressman Cisernos’s family has lost a loved one to gun violence: his grandfather was shot and killed during a grocery store robbery when his mother was only 10 years old. In 2018, as one of the first Giffords endorsements of the cycle, Congressman Cisernos ran on a strong gun violence prevention platform against an opponent with an A rating from the NRA and campaigned multiple times with Giffords co-founder Captain Mark Kelly. Since being elected, Congressman Cisneros has consistently prioritized the public safety of his constituents, including by supporting the bipartisan universal background checks bill that passed the House last February.
Jason Crow (CO-06): Congressman Jason Crow is a decorated Army veteran who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He represents Colorado’s Sixth District, a community which has witnessed horrific mass shootings at a movie theater in Aurora and nearby Columbine High School. When Jason Crow decided to run for Congress in 2018, our country’s gun violence epidemic was a key factor motivating his decision. The sitting member whom he challenged had taken over $100,000 from the gun lobby while regularly pushing its reckless agenda in Washington DC. When Jason Crow hit the campaign trail, he spoke compellingly of the active shooter drills his young daughter endured in school and highlighted his support for lifesaving gun safety measures, including at a rally with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. He went on to decisively defeat his NRA-backed opponent and has since used his military experience to lead on this issue as a Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
Elissa Slotkin (MI-08): Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin has dedicated her career to national service. She was in graduate school on September 11, 2001, and the attacks on America motivated her to join the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst. She served three tours in Iraq and worked on critical national security issues in both the Bush and Obama administrations. As someone who grew up in a gun-owning family and carried a pistol and M-4 for protection in Iraq, Representative Slotkin knows that support for the Second Amendment can be balanced with commonsense measures to keep our communities safe from gun violence. In Congress, she has supported bipartisan bills to require a background check on all gun sales and keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.
Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11): Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill is a Naval Academy graduate, Navy pilot, and former federal prosecutor. She served nearly 10 years on active duty in the Navy, flying helicopter missions in Europe and the Middle East. As a prosecutor, she worked to build trust between residents and law enforcement and get illegal guns off the street. Representative Sherrill’s victory in 2018 was emblematic of the larger shift in support for gun safety across the country. In her suburban district with deep Republican roots, voters grew tired of the incumbent’s support for the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda. Congresswoman Sherrill ran on a commonsense gun safety platform and campaigned with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords at an event that lifted up the voices of other veterans alongside trauma surgeons who have treated gunshot victims. In Congress, Representative Sherrill has been an authentic and powerful advocate for gun safety.
Max Rose (NY-11): Congressman Max Rose is a Ranger-qualified Army veteran who serves Staten Island and South Brooklyn in the House. While leading his platoon in Afghanistan, Congressman Rose was wounded in an IED blast. He earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a Combat Infantryman Badge and continues to serve in the National Guard today. Congressman Rose won his seat in 2018 by going door to door in New York’s 11th District and speaking frankly with voters about the issues that matter most to them. He has brought that same attitude to Congress, where he hasn’t been afraid of standing up to the corporate gun lobby. Congressman Rose has been a key voice in calling attention to the dangers of ghost guns—untraceable firearms that can be obtained without a background check, which pose a critical threat to our communities and national security.
Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06): Prior to becoming the first woman ever to represent Pennsylvania’s Sixth District, Chrissy Houlahan had a wide-ranging career that has included serving in the Air Force, leading organizations in the public and private sectors, and teaching high school chemistry. In these roles, Congresswoman Houlahan has been able to build coalitions and communicate messages to different audiences, skills that have set her up well to work effectively in Congress. In 2018, Chrissy Houlahan ran a campaign focused on gun safety, using opportunities like a Giffords with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Giffords co-founder Captain Mark Kelly to express her support for universal background checks, funding for gun violence research, keeping guns away from domestic abusers, and closing the gun show loophole. Once in office, Congresswoman Houlahan kept her word and co-sponsored groundbreaking legislation like the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. As a military veteran, Congresswoman Houlahan understands the threat that guns pose to civilians because she has witnessed their impact as weapons of war. She has been a fearless gun safety champion in this Congress and will continue to be in years to come.
Conor Lamb (PA-17): Congressman Conor Lamb grew up in Pittsburgh and followed in the footsteps of several family members by entering public service. Before being sworn into office, Congressman Lamb was a judge advocate in the Marine Corps and an assistant US attorney in the Department of Justice, prosecuting crimes ranging from gun trafficking to sexual assault. While running for Congress in 2018, Congressman Lamb made gun safety a priority, joining Giffords co-founder Captain Mark Kelly for a gun safety town hall and calling out politicians who were beholden to the gun lobby instead of their constituents. In Congress, his vote was key to passing the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 to expand universal background checks. As Congressman Lamb continues to prove with his advocacy and work in office, gun safety is a winning issue in swing districts like his.
Elaine Luria (VA-02): After 20 years as a Navy officer, the longest active-duty tenure of any current member of the House Democratic Caucus, Congresswoman Elaine Luria knows quite a bit about courage. Following her retirement from the military in 2017, she turned to a different form of public service the following year, becoming a representative for Virginia’s Second District to shed light on the issues most important to everyday people. On the campaign trail, Elaine Luria participated in a gun safety forum with Giffords co-founder Captain Mark Kelly, making it clear that she wouldn’t back down from tough fights in Congress. Once in office, Congresswoman Luria co-sponsored bills to ban large-capacity magazines and assault weapons. In May 2019, when her district lost 12 residents to a tragic mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Representative Luria immediately called on her peers to act. In September 2019, the congresswoman moderated a roundtable discussion with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and survivors of gun violence from the Virginia Beach area. When she is reelected this year, Congresswoman Luria will no doubt continue to use her platform to lift up the voices of Americans affected by gun violence and advocates who will fight for gun safety.
Abigail Spanberger (VA-07): Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger’s current role representing Virginia’s Seventh District is a continuation of a long career in public service. Her tenure as a federal law enforcement agent and then as a Central Intelligence Agency officer gave Congresswoman Spanberger a deep understanding of the need for accountability and integrity in government. In 2018, she brought those virtues with her to Congress, leading by example to hold her colleagues to high standards in service to their constituents and to the country. With her extensive training and experience as an armed agent, Congresswoman Spanberger knows what it means to handle firearms responsibly. She is an outspoken advocate for responsible gun ownership and a valuable partner in the fight to expand universal background checks and increase funding for gun violence research.
About Recent Giffords 2020 Political Efforts:
At every step in the legislative process, this slate of endorsed candidates approached gun safety legislation with the seriousness and urgency needed to solve our country’s gun violence epidemic. In contrast, their counterparts in the Senate have stalled and obstructed any and all gun safety bills sent to them by the House. That’s why Giffords invested nearly $750,000 in ads calling out Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) for failing to support H.R. 8 last year.
Giffords is also leading the effort to make this the year the country elects a #GunSafetyPresident. We launched a video campaign this past fall that allowed the American people to hear directly from leading Democratic candidates for president about gun violence—the issue keeping people up at night and dominating discussion at kitchen tables across the country. They also joined with March For Our Lives to host a 2020 gun safety forum in Las Vegas in October.
Recently released polling showed that the issue of gun safety is becoming a major factor for voters, and one that is critical to winning elections in these areas of the country. Fifty-nine percent of suburban women in the swing states of Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas support stronger gun laws and say this issue is “very important” to their vote. An even larger group (64%) says that they would never vote for a candidate who didn’t support “requiring background checks on all gun sales,” outranking 13 other social and economic policy positions as the top voting determinant. Responses like these underscore that suburban women increasingly want a leader committed to gun safety.