Press Release

Giffords Endorses Slate of Women Running to Keep Gun Safety a Top Congressional Priority

These six women are focused on solidifying a gun safety Congress

April 30, 2020 — Giffords PAC, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, endorsed six candidates in their election bids for Congress. The candidates are women running to keep a gun safety majority in the US House by backing lifesaving legislation. The 116th House made historic progress passing H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, and is looking to shore up and expand on those efforts by bringing this group to office.

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:

“Women in Congress are leading the way forward on common sense gun safety. We have the opportunity to pass majority supported gun safety legislation, and electing these gun sense women leaders will help us do just that. They are the right voices for their communities and will deliver for the American people. These candidates are gun owners, survivors, educators, and community leaders who have been tested before and have the courage to stand up for what’s right.

“Giffords is proud to endorse these six women leaders. They are ready to fight in Congress to help families live free from the fear of gun violence.”

Today’s Giffords Endorsements include:

  • Jackie Gordon (NY-02): Jackie Gordon is a combat veteran, educator, and community leader who is running for Congress in New York’s Second District. Jackie was born in Jamaica, grew up in Queens, and worked in New York public schools for three decades. She also served a 29-year career in the Army Reserve, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan after September 11th and retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. As a veteran with extensive experience handling firearms throughout her long military career, Jackie understands the importance of gun safety. In Congress, she’ll support commonsense policies like universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Jackie has dedicated her life to serving her community and keeping it safe. New Yorkers can count on her to continue that service when it comes to fighting for gun violence prevention in Congress.

  • Rita Hart (IA-02): Rita Hart is a lifelong Iowan, farmer, and educator who understands the importance of perseverance and working to support her community. She served three terms in the Iowa State Senate and was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018. This year, she is running to represent Iowa’s Second District in Congress. Like many in her community, Rita is a gun owner and a staunch advocate of responsible gun ownership. She understands the culturally significant role that guns play in the lives of her constituents, as well as the threat that they can pose in the hands of dangerous individuals. In Congress, Rita will defend the right to responsible gun ownership while working to reduce senseless gun violence.

  • Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (IL-13): Betsy Dirksen Londrigan was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she worked as a corps member with Teach For America and as a nonprofit leader in her community. In 2009, a rare illness left her son Jack fighting for his life in a medically-induced coma. Betsy is grateful for the medical team that saved her son and the community that rallied behind their family, and decided to run for Congress in 2018 because she believes that no family should have to suffer to keep their loved ones safe and healthy. In 2018, Betsy came within less than one percent of the vote of unseating incumbent Republican Rodney Davis. This year, she’s running to finish what she started two years ago. Gun safety is personal for Betsy. As a schoolteacher in an underserved neighborhood, Betsy witnessed the disproportionate impacts of gun violence on her student. As a parent of three children, Betsy wants to make sure that they feel safe in their communities. As someone who comes from a family of gun owners, Betsy knows what responsible gun ownership looks like. Betsy will bring these experiences to Congress as she fights for families and communities across the country.

  • Kathy Manning (NC-06): Kathy Manning is a lawyer and nonprofit leader who has been active in the Greensboro community for over 30 years. A graduate of Harvard University and Michigan Law School, Kathy has spent her career working on critical local issues ranging from early education to retirement security. Kathy ran for Congress in 2018, nearly defeating an entrenched, NRA-backed incumbent while running on a strong gun safety platform. In 2020, Kathy is running for Congress in the Sixth District, which is home to many neighborhoods where gun violence is far too common. Kathy knows the importance of investing in community-based violence prevention programs that have decreased shootings and saved lives in cities across the country. In Congress, Kathy will be a staunch supporter of commonsense gun safety policies, like requiring background checks on all gun sales and keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.

  • Marie Newman (IL-03): Long before she decided to run for public office, Marie Newman was a community leader and advocate. As a business executive, Marie used her position and resources in the private sector to build coalitions and organize campaigns around public issues like bullying, LGBTQ+ rights, and gun safety. Now, Marie is running to represent Illinois’s Third District to take her advocacy efforts to the halls of Congress. For Marie, gun safety is personal. She comes from a long line of military veterans and understands the danger that weapons of war bring to civilian settings. Growing up in the Chicago area, Marie witnessed the damage that gun violence inflicts on underserved communities of color and the ways in which this violence is exacerbated by government inaction. Marie will be an active advocate for commonsense reforms in office, a welcome and necessary addition to the gun safety majority in Congress.

  • Deborah Ross (NC-02): Deborah Ross is no stranger to public service. Deborah was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2002, where she served for more than 10 years as both Majority and Minority Whip during her tenure. As a civil rights lawyer, Deborah has kept up the fight for fairness and justice. As a lecturer at Duke Law School, Deborah has passed these same values on to her students. In 2016 Deborah ran for the US Senate, coming within two percentage points of defeating a longtime incumbent. This year, Deborah is running for Congress in North Carolina’s Second District. During her time in the North Carolina State House, Deborah was a strong gun safety advocate, voting against bills that would have allowed concealed handguns on college campuses and in restaurants and parks, and supporting a bill that would have required reporting lost or stolen handguns. Deborah believes that community spaces should always feel and be safe for all people, and she will continue to fight in Congress to end the gun violence epidemic.

The 116th Congress took monumental steps to advance lifesaving gun violence prevention legislation including H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, one of the first pieces of legislation introduced in 2019, which passed through the full House just 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. Their colleagues in the Senate, on the other hand, continue to oppose all gun safety. 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.

The current coronavirus 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 magnified during the coronavirus outbreak. Keeping a gun safety majority in the House and electing a gun safety president will ensure that Congress actually addresses these dangerous gaps.