Press Release

Giffords Endorses House Freshmen Running for Reelection to Keep Gun Safety a Congressional Priority

These five House members helped make historic progress on gun safety; will continue fighting in the next Congress

May 6, 2020 — Today, Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, backed five House freshmen in their bids for reelection to the US House of Representatives. These champions were part of the landslide victory in 2018 that elevated a gun safety majority to Congress. They passed landmark legislation like H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, and are critical to expanding the gun safety majority in 2020.

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

“In 2018, voters raised their voices and delivered a watershed moment for gun safety. They demanded leaders who cared more about saving lives from gun violence than appealing to the gun lobby. The call from voters was met with a vow to act from candidates, and a new majority arrived in Washington ready to fight for progress. The gun safety majority followed through, passing historic legislation within the first 100 days.

“These members are part of a majority that remains determined in pushing for gun safety legislation. They can’t be bullied or bought by the NRA because their duty to protect all Americans is more important to them. That’s why Giffords is proud to endorse these men and women fighting for an America where our communities are safer from gun violence.”

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.

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 will ensure that Congress actually addresses these dangerous gaps.

Today’s Giffords Endorsements include:

  • Cindy Axne (IA-03): Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a fifth-generation Iowan, was elected to represent the state’s Third Congressional District in 2018. She attended the University of Iowa, earned an MBA from Northwestern University, and spent close to a decade working to improve government services for the state of Iowa. Cindy Axne gained experience in advocacy during that time as well, successfully pushing West Des Moines public schools to expand all-day kindergarten from a lottery system to every child in the district. When Cindy Axne won her congressional election, she unseated a two-term incumbent with an A+ rating from the NRA. In Congress, Axne has followed through on promises she made to her constituents during the campaign, most notably supporting a bipartisan universal background checks bill that would help keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. Congresswoman Axne, the mother to two school-aged sons, will continue to advocate for commonsense gun violence prevention policies until every parent in America can send their children to school without fear for their safety.

  • Sean Casten (IL-06): Congressman Sean Casten is in his first term representing Illinois’s Sixth Congressional District in the Chicago suburbs. A scientist by training, Casten has spent his career working as an entrepreneur to combat climate change and create jobs in the field of clean energy. He ran for Congress on a platform of pragmatic policy solutions to the most pressing problems facing our country. Congressman Casten believes that on the issue of gun violence, the facts are clear: gun laws save lives. In Illinois, for example, strong state gun laws mean the state experiences fewer gun deaths than the national average, despite having to deal with guns being trafficked from nearby states with weaker gun laws. Congressman Casten has introduced legislation to address trafficking by requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms. He has also been a consistent vote for gun safety, supporting measures to enact universal background checks and keep guns away from domestic abusers. Congressman Casten will continue working for the voters in Illinois’s Sixth District to end America’s gun violence crisis.

  • Abby Finkenauer (IA-01): Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer proudly represents her hometown of Sherrill and the rest of Northeast Iowa in Iowa’s First Congressional District. Her father was a union pipefitter welder and a gun owner who taught Abby to shoot and handle guns responsibly. After graduating from Drake University in Des Moines, Finkenauer was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives at the age of 25. She ran for Congress in 2018 to represent the working people of Iowa and help build a stronger middle class. In her freshman term, Finkenauer has focused on bringing Democrats and Republicans together through commonsense solutions to gun violence because she understands that gun violence affects all our communities. She supported bipartisan bills to enact universal background checks and keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers and stalkers. Finkenauer will continue to use her position in Congress to fight for lifesaving policies that respect the rights of responsible gun owners.

  • Andy Kim (NJ-03): Growing up in New Jersey, Congressman Andy Kim watched his Korean immigrant parents work hard and make sacrifices to help not only their family, but also the community. From a young age, he was inspired by the selflessness displayed by his father, a cancer and Alzheimer’s researcher, and his mother, a nurse. After studying as a Rhodes and Harry S. Truman scholar at Oxford, he worked in the US State Department advising top-ranking military officials in Afghanistan, and in the White House on matters of defense and national security. His national security expertise and his experience working closely with military officials in warzones have taught him that there is no reasonable need for dangerous weapons in civilian settings. In 2018, Andy ran for Congress in his home state, highlighting his strong support for gun safety throughout his campaign. The residents of the Third District responded, voting Congressman Kim into office over his NRA-favored opponent. In his first term in office, Rep. Kim has led on gun safety, joining the Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce and co-sponsoring the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. He is running for Congress this year to continue passing legislation that keeps communities safe.

  • Chris Pappas (NH-01): Chris Pappas was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, into a family that has lived in the state for several generations. He developed an appreciation for civic duty early, volunteering on then-State Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s gubernatorial campaign in high school. Immediately after graduating from college, he decided to run for office himself at the age of 22, kicking off an accomplished career in public service. First in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, then on the Executive Council, and now in Congress, Rep. Pappas has continued to stay true to the values that first inspired him to serve his constituents. Congressman Pappas’s support of gun safety comes from a deeply personal place. As a gay man, he understands that guns can pose a disproportionate danger to marginalized communities by facilitating hate crimes like the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL. In office, he followed through on his campaign promises, voting in favor of legislation like the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. This year, he is running for re-election to build on the progress that he and the rest of the gun safety majority in Congress have made.

About Recent Giffords 2020 Political Efforts:

These candidates approach gun safety legislation with the seriousness and urgency needed to solve our country’s gun violence epidemic. Re-electing them to the House of Representatives will mean keeping the gun safety majority that has continued to prioritize gun safety. 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.