Giffords group rebrands, refocuses efforts at gun control

Ditching the Americans for Responsible Solutions banner they have held for the past five years, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ gun control group has a simpler name, but the same message.

Announced Tuesday in a video that included an introduction from President Obama, the organization founded by Giffords and her husband Capt. Mark Kelly is reimaging under a new umbrella. Founded in 2012 as Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group will simply be known as Giffords with its political action committee branded as the Giffords PAC. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which the group merged with last year, is now the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The founders of the organization said the rebranding is simply part of the next chapter in their advocacy for more gun regulation.

“When Gabby and I began this journey, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy fight,” said Kelly. “The gun lobby has been selling a message of fear to the American public for years. It’s used its money to scare lawmakers into following its extreme ideology—and it’s made talking about guns culturally divisive, despite the fact that the majority of gun owners support stronger gun laws.”

The group, with Giffords and Kelly both avowedly gun owners, say they have played a role in passing over 200 new, stronger gun laws in 45 states and Washington, DC. In recent months, the organization has set up a string of a half-dozen state-based coalitions with a broad general aim to expand background checks, increase reporting of mental health records by the state to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and removing guns from an expanded pool of domestic abusers.

Per the Center for Responsive Politics, the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC spent $13.4 million in the 2016 election cycle, down from the $19.5 million invested backing gun control in 2014. Large individual donors to the PAC included Connie Ballmer, Dagmar Dolby— a California philanthropist who favors West Coast Democrats– TV writer Bill Prady, Google wonk Alan Eustace, and Tumblr founder David Karp.

One particular target in the last election cycle for Giffords was Republican Kelly Ayotte, the junior U.S. Senator from New Hampshire. The group financed a series of ad buys saying Ayotte “ignored her constituents and voted to protect the loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers get guns with no questions asked,” after the lawmaker’s vote against an expanded background check bill in the Senate. Ayotte narrowly lost her seat to New Hampshire’s Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan in a tight race.

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