Giffords, Kelly Stump for Dean Phillips in Minnesota / by Charles Yeganian

Anthony Souffle - Star Tribune

Anthony Souffle - Star Tribune

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived a Tuscon shooting in 2011, was joined by her husband Mark Kelly, an astronaut and naval aviator, at an event near the University of Minnesota. They led a roundtable discussion with gun control activists and candidates U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, Dean Phillips and state Rep. Ilhan Omar. Walz is the Democratic nominee for governor, and Phillips and Omar are running for Congress.

Gun control advocates believe they have found a new voting bloc in suburban voters who fear school shootings. Phillips, who is running in the Third Congressional District in the west metro suburbs, has highlighted his gun position in his race against his opponent U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, who has won the support of the NRA.

“Nothing I am proposing is anything but common-sense solutions that an overwhelming majority of Americans support, including universal background checks,” Phillips said.

Gun safety advocates have zeroed in on the Minneapolis suburbs as the key part of the state not only for national races, but for the state legislature as well. Polls have shown Phillips ahead of Paulsen, who has won his four most recent races by double digits.