The gun safety group Giffords will launch a nationwide effort next week aimed at boosting Democratic candidates in key U.S. Senate races who support universal background checks for firearms purchases. With Democrats’ chances of flipping the Senate improving as Republican President Donald Trump’s poll numbers slide ahead of the Nov. 3 election, the group said background checks were a wedge issue that could win support from critical voting blocs in close races and beyond.
“This issue helps Democrats in every single state and every single congressional district,” Senator Chris Murphy said in an interview, citing opinion polls that show background checks are popular even among Republican voters. Murphy, a leading voice on gun violence since the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre in his home state of Connecticut, will kick off the group’s “tour” on July 14 with former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, who founded the group after she nearly died in an assassination attempt in Arizona in 2011. Giffords will then host virtual events with Democratic Senate candidates in several battleground states this summer, including Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado. “The road to passing lifesaving gun safety legislation goes through the Senate,” she said in a statement about the group’s effort, which will be announced on Tuesday. Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, is running for the Senate in Arizona as a Democrat in one of the highest-profile 2020 races, but the group said previously it would not engage in that contest. [full article]