May 18, 2020 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, joined Texas Senate candidate MJ Hegar for a virtual gun violence prevention town hall today. Moderated by Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler, Hegar, special guest Marcel McClinton, and former Congresswoman Giffords connected with Texas voters about the urgent need for the Senate to pass stronger gun laws and how that breakthrough will require electing gun safety champions like MJ Hegar in the Lone Star State.
“MJ Hegar is the fearless leader that Texans want fighting for them in the United States Senate,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords. “For years, Senator John Cornyn followed the NRA’s lead while Texas families suffered from tragedy after tragedy. Now, we have the opportunity to elect a champion determined to break the power of the gun lobby and deliver life-saving gun safety legislation for Texans. MJ proudly answered the call of service before and is ready to serve again as a Senator.”
At the town hall of nearly 250 attendees, Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler led the discussion on the status of gun violence prevention in Texas. A Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll this year found that a large majority of Texans strongly back gun safety laws like background checks and extreme risk protection orders. Hegar talked about this growing momentum for action in the Lone Star State, as well as her own experiences with gun violence.
As a survivor of childhood domestic gun violence and a veteran, MJ understands the trauma that gun violence inflicts. On the campaign trail, MJ has proven her commitment to gun safety by openly calling for passing universal background checks, enacting extreme risk protection orders, and closing the boyfriend loophole, and she will continue to be a gun safety champion when she is elected this fall.
“I’m proud to stand alongside passionate leaders like Gabby Giffords and Marcel McClinton as we fight for commonsense gun safety measures that will help create a safer Texas and nation,” said MJ Hegar. “Texans are tired of fearing for their kids’ safety at schools and for their own safety in public, all because of apathetic career politicians like Senator Cornyn who prioritize the gun lobby’s profits over their constituents. As a combat vet, gun violence survivor, and mom, this is personal and I won’t stop fighting for our communities until these senseless killings end.”
Giffords endorsed MJ Hegar’s run for Senate earlier this year. Her service to her country began long before she decided to run. As an Air Force pilot, she served three tours in Afghanistan, receiving the Distinguished Cross for Valor, one of the few women to do so, and the Purple Heart for making courageous sacrifices and sustaining injuries in the line of fire on her third tour. Upon leaving the military, she went home to Texas, where she continued advocating for gender equality in the military before running for Congress in Texas’s 31st District in 2018. In that race, she managed to come within a three-point margin of victory in a historically Republican district, evidence of a major political shift happening in the state.
“Giffords is committed to electing gun safety champions up and down the ballot in Texas,’ said Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director. “We’re proud to support leaders like MJ Hegar who have made gun safety a priority this year. For too long, leaders like John Cornyn have ignored policies that would save lives. We won’t stop fighting for gun safety in the Lone Star State. That’s why we’re standing side-by-side with leaders like MJ Hegar to demand a new day where leaders in Washington DC will always fight for a gun safe Texas.”
Giffords’ town hall with MJ continues the organization’s efforts to elect a gun safety majority in the US Senate. While the House of Representatives has approached gun safety legislation with the seriousness and urgency needed to solve our country’s gun violence epidemic, in the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and key allies like Senator John Cornyn 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. The organization 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.