Giffords launches national Gun Owners for Safety group to combat the NRA
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.
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.
“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 Whitmer (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 Crow (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 Biden. Kelly is polling well ahead Sen. Martha McSally (R) in the Arizona Senate race.
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