2020 Election | U.S. Senate

Candidates for Senate to Tout Gun Control on Tour

Nonprofit will spotlight politicians who support universal background checks

Photo credit: Flickr.com

A year after she was shot in the head by a would-be assassin in a 2011 mass shooting, former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords co-founded a nonprofit to fight gun violence. Now known as Giffords, the group is focused on a number of initiatives related to gun control in the U.S. Beginning July 14, it will host a six-week virtual tour that features current members of the U.S. Senate and Senate hopefuls from a total of eight states: Connecticut, Michigan, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Colorado.

In a recent Reuters article featured in news outlets across the country, “Giffords group takes aim at key U.S. Senate races in new push for gun limits,” Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut was reported as saying numerous Republicans in the Senate have told him they would vote for legislation calling for universal background checks. Murphy will help launch the Giffords Road to Universal Background Checks Tour Tuesday, July 14. Other members of the U.S. Senate who will participate in the tour are Senator Gary Peters of Michigan and Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota, both of whom are up for reelection this fall.

The other candidates who will participate in the Road to Universal Background Checks tour are:

Cal Cunningham of North Carolina

Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Cal Cunningham has served in three active duty tours, trained special operations forces, and been awarded the prestigious General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. A North Carolina native, he studied law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served as one of youngest state senators in his state’s history. His top priorities include accessible healthcare, the economy, education, the environment, national security, reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, criminal justice reform, immigration, voting rights, veterans’ issues, and gun control.

Jaime Harrison of South Carolina

After growing up impoverished and working his way into Yale and law school at Georgetown University, Jaime Harrison returned to South Carolina to teach high school, serve as an aide to South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, and work for organizations such as the University of South Carolina. He served as the first Black chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, and he’s now running to unseat Senator Lindsay Graham, who has represented South Carolina in Congress for 17 years. Harrison’s top priorities include healthcare, education, childcare and family leave, national security, veterans’ issues, ending poverty, building the middle class, and protecting seniors. While his website doesn’t cite gun control as a top priority, Harrison has been endorsed by gun control groups and advocates.

James Mackler of Tennessee

As a veteran of the Iraq War, former U.S. Army combat pilot, and member of the Tennessee National Guard, James Mackler has enjoyed considerable support in his run to unseat Republican Senator and former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander. His priorities include healthcare, the economy, jobs, veterans’ issues, education, climate change, voters’ rights, and national service. Mackler’s website mentions gun violence within the context of fixing Washington in order to conduct effective conversations around this and other issues.

Dr. Barbara Bollier of Kansas

Like Gabby Giffords, Dr. Barbara Bollier is a former Republican. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, she has worked as an anesthesiologist and served in the Kansas House of Representatives. Bollier has been a member of the Kansas Senate for four years and is an outspoken advocate of public education and affordable healthcare. Her other top priorities include veterans’ issues, national defense, LGBTQ equality, seniors’ issues, reproductive rights, climate change, and the economy. While her website doesn’t list gun control as a top priority, Bollier has worked to advance red-flag laws in Kansas during her time in the Kansas Senate.

John Hickenlooper of Colorado

A past mayor of Denver and governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper is also a former geologist who opened the first brewpub in Denver. Among the top priorities noted on his website, gun violence is listed second after healthcare. His other top priorities include seniors’ issues, the economy, climate change, reproductive rights, immigration, national security, veterans’ issues, and voting rights.

Although Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords and a Navy veteran and retired astronaut, is also running this year for the U.S. Senate, his high-profile race in Arizona is not scheduled to be featured on the Giffords Road to Universal Background Checks Tour. Kelly co-founded the group, which his website states is “one of the nation’s leading gun safety organizations that brings together families, gun owners, veterans, law enforcement, and others to advocate for stronger gun safety laws that save lives.”

If a recent statement made by Gabby Giffords — “The road to passing lifesaving gun safety legislation goes through the Senate” — is to be proven true, the Giffords organization is on the right track as it promotes relevant candidates.

I write fiction, poetry, and nonfiction when I’m not working as a copy editor. Author of the novel One Sister’s Song.

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Bylines in Publishers Weekly, the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, others. One Sister’s Song (novel). Not Nearly Everything You Need to Know About Writing (ebook).

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