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Giffords launches national Gun Owners for Safety group to combat the NRA

Giffords launches national Gun Owners for Safety group to combat the NRA
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Giffords, the gun control advocacy organization founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) after her attempted assassination, is set to launch a new national firearms group intended to take on the power and influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Gun Owners for Safety will be launched off of a coalition that was founded in 2018 with chapters in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas. It seeks to offer gun owners an alternative to the NRA, which remains stringently opposed to most anti-gun violence proposals.

“I think whether you’re talking about politics, whether you’re talking about lobbying, whether you’re talking about culture change, what’s vitally important is that we focus on the millions of Americans at the center of our politics. If we’re going to have long-term durable change in this country, it can’t just be the activists on the left and the activists on the right. We really have to move the center,” Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler said.

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Giffords, the wife of Arizona Senate candidate and former astronaut Mark Kelly, is a gun owner herself and, Ambler noted, was ranked one of the most moderate members of the House during her time in Congress. 

Organizers have already connected with nearly 50,000 gun owners in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., and some serving abroad “who are fed up with the NRA,” Ambler said. Members include hunters, collectors, veterans, former law enforcement and others who value firearm ownership but also want to reduce gun violence.

“These men and women were eager, at a time when our values of our country are being debated, to raise their hand and show politicians, show the country, that the vast majority of gun owners support safer gun laws,” Ambler said, calling expanded background checks a main focus of the group. 

Gun Owners for Safety plans to take advantage of the weakened state of the NRA, which has faced accusations of corrupt leadership and illegal spending. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) issued a civil suit against the NRA in August, alleging that it violated state law governing nonprofit organizations, contributing to a loss of more $64 million over three years, and that its top officials diverted millions of dollars away from its charitable mission.

Quickly thereafter, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee called on the IRS to review the tax-exempt status of the NRA and NRA Foundation, and Senate Democrats called for the NRA Foundation to be immediately removed from the list of charities eligible to solicit and receive contributions from federal employees. 

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“Put your foot in the shoes of an American gun owner, do you want to be part of the NRA, which is embroiled in legal and ethical controversy?” Ambler asked. “The NRA wants you to believe that you can’t have your Second Amendment and pursue laws like ... universal background checks.” 

The launch also comes following criminal allegations that a group of men tied to a militia group that earlier this year protested a session of the Michigan state legislature while carrying rifles had been plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerCompany continues operating pipeline through Michigan despite governor's order Michigan Republican offers bill to fine fact-checkers for errors Michigan to end remote work after reaching 55 percent vaccination rate MORE (D). 

“American voters are hungry for campaigns and messages and groups of people who are attempting to bring people together to accomplish something that serves all Americans. That’s why Gabby is working so hard to organize fellow gun owners across the country,” Ambler said. 

Gun Owners for Safety will hold a launch event on Friday with Giffords, Ambler, Rep. Jason CrowJason CrowOvernight Defense: Ex-Pentagon chief defends Capitol attack response as GOP downplays violence | Austin, Biden confer with Israeli counterparts amid conflict with Hamas | Lawmakers press Pentagon officials on visas for Afghan partners Congress demands answers on Afghanistan withdrawal Tensions rise as Democrats face Senate bottleneck on agenda MORE (D-Colo.) and multiple gun owners. They plan to release a video sending a message to 2020 candidates from gun owners across the U.S.

Giffords has endorsed and campaigned for Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE. Kelly is polling well ahead Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Arizona state senator announces bid for Kirkpatrick's seat Democratic Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick says she won't seek reelection MORE (R) in the Arizona Senate race.