Giffords PAC Endorses Slate of Gun Safety Champions during Florida Bus Tour
Washington DC — Today, Giffords PAC, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, announced its endorsement of eight candidates running for office at the federal and state level in Florida. These endorsements come with our bus tour through the Sunshine State, spearheaded by Giffords Florida, a new political program dedicated to supporting candidates for local, state, and federal office across the state.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“For too long, elected leaders in Florida have put campaign contributions from the gun lobby over the safety and wellbeing of their constituents. Year after year, too many innocent lives are lost across the Sunshine State. It’s time we change this once and for all. Today, we are endorsing leaders with the courage to act on this issue. With them leading the way, we can enact universal background checks, close loopholes that allow criminals and domestic abusers to access firearms, and push back against permitless carry. Giffords is proud to stand with each of these gun safety champions through Election Day and beyond. Together, we’ll build a safer Florida for all.”
Giffords Senior Advisor former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell:
“Florida is a diverse purple state with voters of every background—but over the years, we’ve seen that members of every community and each party can fall victim to the unchecked, senseless violence that our elected officials have allowed to occur in our state. We need commonsense gun safety laws on the books now, and if those in power refuse to implement them, we must vote them out. Gun safety will be a winning message this fall and we’re proud to support champions who will actually turn talk into action. The numbers don’t lie—84% of Latino and Hispanic voters plan to vote for candidates that support universal background checks on all gun sales this fall. We have the tools we need to win this fight and build a safer Florida sin violencia. We look forward to campaigning alongside these candidates across the Sunshine State and know that together, we will protect lives from Miami to Orlando.”
The slate of endorsed candidates includes:
- Alan Cohn (FL-15): Alan Cohn is not afraid to get to the root of a complex problem. As a Peabody award-winning investigative journalist, he has spent his career holding the powerful accountable and getting results—making him well-equipped to take on bad actors like the gun lobby in office. As a reporter, he covered mass shootings and witnessed the devastation caused by gun violence and its impact on victims and their families firsthand. He also investigated the illegal transport of firearms across state lines and attempts by criminals to wipe serial numbers from weapons to make them untraceable. In the hours and days after the massacres in Parkland, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Bernardino, and Las Vegas, Cohn used his position as the anchor and managing editor of ABC 7 News to urge his viewers to seek out candidates willing to address the issues surrounding gun violence and seek out commonsense solutions.
- Eric Lynn (FL-13): Eric Lynn understands the trauma of gun violence all too well. In 1998, his 16-year-old cousin Louis was carjacked and murdered in Atlanta. The loss of his cousin is one of the many factors that drove Lynn to pursue a career in public service both on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon. For years, he worked as a legislative staffer in Congress before joining then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as one of its earliest staffers. Following President Obama’s victory, Lynn served as a senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense for six years. In each of his prior roles, Lynn has fought for the safety and security of American communities. With multiple significant mass shootings in Florida happening in recent years—such as the massacres at Pulse nightclub and in Parkland—Lynn knows he has an obligation to fight for commonsense gun reform to keep Pinellas County residents safe. As a father of three, he shares the same concern as parents across Florida when he drops his kids off at school every morning. In Congress, Lynn will fight to expand universal background checks, ban weapons of war, implement safe storage laws, and fund research into the root causes of gun violence.
- Janet Cruz (SD-14): A fourth-generation Tampa native, State Senator Janet Cruz ran for the state legislature as a fierce advocate for stronger schools for our students, affordable and accessible healthcare for every family, and small businesses. In 2018, as minority leader in the Florida State House, Senator Cruz led the effort to pass gun violence prevention legislation that imposed a waiting period for purchases of long-guns, raised the minimum age for purchasing long-guns to 21, and included funding to improve school security. Term-limited in the state house, Senator Cruz challenged and defeated an NRA-backed incumbent for a seat in the Florida Senate, where she has continued her work as a steadfast advocate for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation. In the wake of the tragic shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Senator Cruz called for a special session of the legislature to address measures like banning high-capacity rifle magazines, instituting universal background checks, and strengthening Florida’s extreme risk protection order laws. She has spent her life as a crusader for public safety and Florida’s communities, and Senator Janet Cruz will continue to advocate for lifesaving gun safety legislation until all Floridians can live free from senseless gun violence.
- Shevrin Jones (SD-34): Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones is a leading voice for gun safety who has dedicated his life to building stronger, safer communities. After graduating from Florida A&M University, he became a high school teacher and saw firsthand the impact gun violence has on children and families. That perspective drove him to run for public office in 2012, and since 2013, Senator Jones has served in the Florida legislature and built a reputation as a consensus builder who gets results. He has championed meaningful legislation, including sponsoring bills to repeal the state’s Stand Your Ground law and to establish an Urban Core Gun Violence Task Force to investigate the causes of high crime and gun violence incidents in urban core communities and neighborhoods. When Florida Republicans attempted to arm teachers in schools, Senator Jones led the opposition. Following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, he championed commonsense solutions to keep Florida communities safe—including successfully raising the purchase age for firearms and passing extreme risk protection order laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Senator Shevrin Jones is an effective voice for gun safety, and his constituents know they can count on him to advance real change.
- Anna Eskamani (HD-42): State Representative Anna V. Eskamani is a fighter for hard-working Florida families, and she’s committed to ending gun violence in America. She was an early member of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and for the past four years, she’s been a gun violence prevention champion in the Florida State House. In 2016, Representative Eskamani’s community was devastated by the Pulse nightclub massacre, and Orlando began to honor those no longer with us through action and meaningful reform on gun safety. Two years later, Representative Eskamani ran for office as a first-time candidate, replacing a pro-NRA politician. In office, she has led the charge in keeping guns out of the hands of those who commit domestic abuse, held the gun lobby accountable to its corrupt finances, worked to secure mental health funding for survivors of gun violence, and co-sponsored Florida’s Assault Weapons Ban. Representative Anna Eskamani knows that Floridians deserve to feel safe in all public spaces, and she will never stop working until that dream is a reality.
- Ashley Gantt (HD-109): State Representative-Elect Ashley Gantt is a Miami native, former educator, and attorney. Though she is proud of her diverse experiences, her role as an educator began her passion to advocate for gun violence prevention with the loss of former students. In 2021, Representative-Elect Gantt, like far too many others, lost a loved one to senseless gun violence. That loss propelled her into a different mission: supporting candidates that advocated for commonsense gun safety reforms. Frustrated at the inaction of the Florida state legislature, Gantt decided to run for the state house to advocate for lifesaving policies. As a representative, one of her top priorities will be to not only implement policy but also to work within the community to find solutions to gun violence.
- Carlos Guillermo Smith (HD-37): For State Representative Carlos Guillermo-Smith, the fight to end gun violence is personal. On June 12, 2016, a gunman walked into Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, and killed 49 people, devastating the Orlando community. After the shooting, Representative Guillermo-Smith turned his immense pain into action and ran for the Florida State House, becoming the first openly LGBTQ Latino lawmaker elected to the legislative body. The very first bill he introduced was legislation to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines like those used in the tragedy at Pulse. Six years later, Representative Guillermo-Smith has proven himself to be a national leader on gun violence prevention who will never stop working to pass bold gun safety reforms. He continues to stand with March For Our Lives and Parkland students, and he understands that to make a real impact on reducing gun violence in our communities, a comprehensive approach is necessary. That’s why he has co-sponsored and championed legislation to enact other commonsense solutions, such as universal background checks and extreme risk protection order laws to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people
- Johanna Lopez (HD-43): Johanna López has worked to empower the most vulnerable students, fought to increase benefits and ensure equitable pay for teachers and school staff, and successfully led the renaming of Stonewall Jackson Middle School to Roberto Clemente Middle School. She has also publicly advocated against the arming of teachers and in favor of protecting our students from gun violence. Frustrated at the inaction of the Florida legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis on gun safety, López is running for the state house to turn her activism into action and to be a gun violence prevention champion for Orange County families. She strongly believes that guns in schools make everyone less safe, and she supports expanding mental health services in our school system and educating all members of the community on violence intervention programs to address the root causes of gun violence. López also supports popular measures like universal background checks and stronger extreme risk protection order laws that decrease the chances that community members will lose their lives to senseless gun violence. Johanna López will fight for lifesaving legislation that will make a real difference for students, their families, and community members at large.
Prior to the launch of Giffords Florida, Giffords had already built a strong foundation in the Sunshine State. In December 2021, Giffords hosted a Gun Violence Memorial at Bayfront Park in Miami and endorsed Val Demings for US Senate. Earlier this year, Giffords partnered with the Miami Heat on a campaign to end gun violence and Giffords Florida Senior Advisor Debbie Mucarsel-Powell worked alongside the families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas victims to call for gun safety reforms.
In March, Giffords teamed up with Public Policy Polling on a survey which found that 69% of Floridians would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports background checks. In June, Giffords hosted a bilingual telephone town hall on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act for Miami Dade County residents. Earlier this year, Giffords created a Spanish Language Hub as a way to connect with Spanish speakers interested in learning more about gun safety reform.
Giffords Florida has a bilingual team running its operation in the Sunshine State, including Giffords Senior Advisor, former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and State Director Samantha Barrios.
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