New ads part of a million dollar campaign airing in Denver media market as Giffords announces its overall political spending for the 2020 cycle
NRA consistently given Gardner ‘A’ ratings while spending nearly $4 million to keep him in office
July 28, 2020 — Giffords PAC, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, today hits the airwaves in Colorado with the first of two ads, part of a $1.25 million campaign, exposing Senator Cory Gardner’s total opposition to universal background checks on gun sales as part of his blanket support for President Trump.
The ads will run on broadcast and cable today through the last week in August. As the ad debuted, Giffords also announced that overall spending in the 2020 cycle would be over $7.5 million as the group focuses on supporting candidates, defining Trump on guns, motivating and educating voters on gun safety while holding virtual events in every corner of the country.
The ad released today called, “Change of Plans” takes a creative approach to reveal how Senator Cory Gardner cares more about pleasing President Trump than Coloradans when it comes to preventing gun violence. Gardner has voted with Trump 98 percent of the time and joined him to stop attempts to strengthen the background check system.
Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director:
“When it comes to preventing gun violence, Cory Gardner is worse than Donald Trump’s carbon copy — he’s Trump’s lackey. He’s more loyal to Donald Trump than he is to Colorado families concerned about gun violence. This campaign to elect gun safety champion John Hickenlooper is a defining piece of our national efforts to relegate the gun lobby’s grip on Congress to the dustbin of history.
“NRA lobbyists and gun lobby leaders still enjoy too many open doors in Washington. Their influence has prevented us from being able to protect the safety of kids and communities with safer gun laws like universal background checks. Voters have the choice and the chance this year to elect leaders who will listen to experts, ignore special interests, and pass stronger gun laws.”
After horrific mass shootings last August in El Paso & Dayton, pressure built on President Trump and Senate Republicans to follow the House of Representatives and pass universal background checks. After expressing his support for background checks President Trump gave in to National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbying, stated his opposition, and his loyalists like Senator Gardner blocked a vote.
Cory Gardner’s extreme fealty to the gun lobby makes him an outlier in a state that has repeatedly strengthened its gun laws in recent years. The NRA has consistently given Gardner ‘A’ ratings and has spent nearly $4 million to keep him in Washington. The investment has paid off: In 2018, Gardner attempted to block a modest proposal to improve records reporting to background check systems that otherwise enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled Senate.
This year Giffords is focused on making gun safety history through their political program. Since the beginning of 2020 the group has run a robust endorsement and candidate support services. On the other side of the coin, Giffords and Global Strategy Group conducted pioneering research into swayable voters—the quarter of likely 2020 voters who are neither very favorable nor very unfavorable toward Trump—proving his positions on gun safety laws could drive support away from him.
Today’s Colorado ad campaign will be followed by other efforts to educate voters in the runup to election day. In addition, earlier this month Giffords launched the Road to Universal Background Checks Tour, highlighting for voters how President Trump and his Senate allies have blocked momentum on passing legislation to require a background check on every gun sale, despite broad support for this policy.
This year’s focus on the Senate builds on the unprecedented progress the House of Representatives made after the 2018 elections. The 116th Congress moved swiftly to pass HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Now, Giffords is leading a campaign to take the next step in the Senate next year. Giffords released new Public Policy Polling in conjunction with the announcement of their tour that shows that a candidate’s support for universal background checks laws made it 60% more likely for someone to vote for the candidate. Only 10% of those polled said a candidate’s support of universal background checks would make them less likely to vote for the candidate.
Other recently released polling shows that the issue of gun safety is a major factor for voters, especially in critical swing states. 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.
Part of the effort to elect gun safety candidates at all levels of leadership, includes making 2020 the year for a #GunSafetyPresident. Earlier this year, former Congresswoman Giffords announced her endorsement and the endorsement of Giffords PAC for Joe Biden for president of the United States of America. Vice President Biden shared his views on gun violence prevention at the 2020 Gun Safety Forum, hosted by Giffords and March for Our Lives, on October 2, 2019 in Las Vegas. He also sat down with the team at Giffords to discuss how he would approach gun safety reform as president.