In Key Senate Races, Giffords Backs Challengers in Iowa and North Carolina Taking on NRA-Backed Incumbents
Theresa Greenfield and Cal Cunningham will prioritize gun safety in the Senate
Washington, DC — Giffords , the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, endorsed Theresa Greenfield for Senate in Iowa and Cal Cunningham for Senate in North Carolina in key races to decide the majority. The challengers have an opportunity to beat two incumbents — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis — with established records of backing the gun lobby’s priorities. In 2018, Giffords was central to the effort to bring a majority committed to action on gun safety to the House of Representatives. These endorsements are part of a push for 2020 to make the same change in the Senate.
Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:
“Americans are done living with the constant worry that gun violence could strike their family. They want leaders who will stand up to the gun lobby. We have the power to elect leaders with courage. This year we can bring gun safety to the United States Senate.
“The Tar Heel State is ready for a Senator who reflects their values and that’s what they’ll have in Cal Cunningham. As a veteran, Cal understands that owning a gun comes with responsibilities and commonsense laws are needed to keep firearms out of the wrong hands. Thom Tillis, on the other hand, has delivered time and again for the gun lobby — not the people of North Carolina.
“I am proud to endorse Theresa Greenfield for Senate in Iowa. Like me, Theresa is a gun owner. And like me, she’ll take on the gun lobby. Theresa will not sit idly by while gun violence continues to hurt Iowa families. The gun lobby’s deep pockets helped elect Joni Ernst and she’s returned the favor with inaction on gun safety legislation, one of the most pressing issues of our time.
“Senator Tillis and Senator Ernst have ignored calls from the vast majority of their constituents to pass safer gun laws — while accepting millions of dollars from the gun lobby. Instead they chose to get in line behind the gun lobby’s main priority: doing nothing. Americans are ready for change, and we’re proud to endorse Theresa and Cal as they fight for an America where gun violence no longer threatens the safety of our families and communities.”
Theresa Greenfield is running for the United States Senate in Iowa to put working families first. Growing up on her family farm in a small town, Theresa learned from a young age the value of building strong community bonds and protecting the most vulnerable among us. After working multiple jobs to help finance her college education, she became a young widow with two kids after her first husband, a union electrical worker, died in a workplace accident. She relied on Social Security survivor benefits and her community to help get back on her feet and eventually rose to run an Iowa small business.
Theresa’s advocacy for stronger gun laws comes from a lifetime of experience. As someone who lives in a household with guns and grew up around hunting and shooting, Theresa understands the importance of legislation such as universal background checks. Her opponent, NRA A-rated incumbent Joni Ernst, has consistently voted against gun safety measures, including a provision that would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. When Theresa is elected this fall, the Senate will be one seat closer to passing critical and long-overdue gun safety legislation.
“I’m honored to have the support of Congresswoman Giffords and this critical organization working so hard to keep our communities safe,” said Theresa Greenfield. “Growing up on my family’s farm, I learned about safe and responsible gun ownership. Today, as I speak with Iowans across our state, I hear from parents who are afraid for their kids’ safety when they go off to school, and from young people demanding leadership from Washington. There are commonsense solutions to this crisis that we can all agree upon — like expanding criminal background checks, closing loopholes to keep guns away from terrorists and dangerous criminals, and investing in public health research to better understand and combat this threat to our public safety. In the Senate, I’ll carry this fight in my heart and work to protect all Iowans.”
Cal Cunningham has spent his entire life in North Carolina, growing up in Lexington and later attending the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Shortly after he and his wife returned to Lexington, he was elected to the state senate in November 2000. Cal served in this role for three years and was one of the youngest-ever members of the North Carolina State Senate.
Immediately following the attacks on September 11, 2001, Cal volunteered for the US Army Reserves, where he served three active duty tours. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the prestigious General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award and continues his military service today, training with special operations forces at Fort Bragg.
This year, Cal is running for United States Senate in North Carolina against one of the NRA’s top-funded incumbents, Thom Tillis. As an Army veteran who has been trained to use a gun, Cal understands the responsibility that comes with carrying a firearm. As the vice-chairman of Governor Roy Cooper’s Crime Commission, Cal helped develop recommendations to lower the risk of tragic school shootings. Cal is confident that we can enact commonsense solutions to end gun violence by uniting Americans of every age, community, and background.
“As an Army veteran trained on firearms, and more importantly a Dad who expects to see his kids home safe from school each evening, the fight to save lives by reducing gun violence is more than a mission, it’s a duty,” said Cal Cunningham. “Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fought for her life and then turned that fight into action. We need more leaders in Washington with her courage so we can finally help communities in my state and across the country reduce the risk of gun violence. I’m honored to have the endorsement of Giffords, and in the Senate, I look forward to working to make our communities safer, starting with passing universal background checks.”
The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a number of gaps in our federal gun laws that will require federal action in the near future. Issues such as safe storage, loopholes that leave domestic violence survivors vulnerable to abuse, and a strain on our federal background checks system have all been recognized as clear issues during the coronavirus outbreak. Electing gun safety champions to the Senate will ensure Congress actually addresses these dangerous gaps.
About Giffords 2020 Political Efforts:
These candidates for Senate approach gun safety legislation with the seriousness and urgency needed to solve our country’s gun violence epidemic. In contrast, the incumbents they face 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. Congresswoman Giffords, recently announced her endorsement and the endorsement of Giffords PAC of Joe Biden for president of the United States of America. Vice President Biden has fought for stronger gun safety laws throughout his career and has promised it will be a top priority for his administration.
Congresswoman Giffords and Vice President Biden have a long history of working together to advance commonsense gun safety laws, especially in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Biden was there to welcome Congresswoman Giffords back to the Capitol months after she was shot and then again at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
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.