Gun control proponents Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly will speak on Class Day at Harvard Law School on May 27, despite their string of epic defeats.
Giffords–a former congresswoman from Arizona’s 2nd District–was shot on January 8, 2011, after Jared Loughner passed a background check to acquire his handgun. She and Kelly have since founded the gun control PAC “Americans for Responsible Solutions” to push Congress to expand background checks so that every gun purchaser in the country is forced to pass the same background Loughner passed.
Their first big push was in support of Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) 2013 gun control bill. That bill failed to pass.
Since then, Giffords and Kelly have pressed Congress to revive the background check push, yet none but Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5th Dist.) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-5th) and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) have shown any enthusiasm. Moreover, all but one of the prominent Democrat senators in red states who supported the Giffords/Kelly/Manchin push in 2013 were defeated in the 2014 mid-term elections.
These included Giffords/Kelly allies like Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA)–all defeated and replaced with pro-Second Amendment Republicans.
In fact, not quite half the candidates Giffords and Kelly’s gun control group endorsed were able to win in the mid-term elections. And the decisive blow to their efforts was the fact that Giffords’ former seat–Arizona District 2–was captured by pro-Second Amendment candidate Martha McSally.
McSally defeated pro-gun control incumbent Ron Barber, although Barber enjoyed Giffords’ financial support and her personal involvement in campaign events.
To get some perspective on the epic defeats Giffords and her husband faced, think about this: the NRA won over 90 percent of 279 congressional races in which they endorsed candidates. On the other hand, The Hill reported that Giffords and Kelly’s gun control group “spent million of dollars endorsing [just] 16 candidates,” and they lost in more than 50 percent of those races.
Amid these myriad of losses, Giffords and Kelly have been able to attach themselves to gun control movements in no-fail states controlled by Democrat governors and legislators. Specifically, Washington state and Oregon. In both these states–where Republicans simply lacked the representation to stop Democrat-sponsored gun control–Giffords and Kelly have congratulated lawmakers for enacting legislation that forces every gun purchaser to pass the same background check that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi (Garland), Jared and Amanda Miller (Las Vegas), Aaron Ybarra (Seattle Pacific University), Elliot Rodger (Santa Barabara), Ivan Lopez (Fort Hood 2014), Darion Marcus Aguilar (Maryland mall), Karl Halverson Pierson (Arapahoe High School), Paul Ciancia (LAX), Aaron Alexis (DC Navy Yard), James Holmes (Aurora theater), and Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood 2009) passed to acquire their guns.
Despite this track record of epic defeat–sprinkled with two successful passages of state-level burdens on law-abiding citizens–Giffords and Kelly will speak at Harvard Law School’s Class Day.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.