US Congress

Jahana Hayes Earns Leadership Role on Gun Violence Prevention Task Force by Charles Yeganian

Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that the Task Force will have two new Vice Chairs and four new Whips for the 116th Congress. Thompson also released the full membership of the Task Force for the current Congress, including new members.
 
“After last year’s historic election and with our new majority ready to hold hearings and cast votes, I am honored to announce the leadership for the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in this 116th Congress. These members hail from across our country, bring a diverse skillset and have already shown dedication and conviction on this issue. They have what it takes to combat gun violence,” said Chairman Thompson. “Together, I know we can take the action the American people have been demanding.”

“Thank you to everyone for their consideration in selecting me to serve as Whip for the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force,” said Deputy Whip Hayes. “I am committed to working with my colleagues on common sense gun reform legislation that will keep our communities safer and protect the rights of responsible gun owners. It has been a generation since Congress passed any major legislation to address this growing concern and we owe it to our children to no longer remain silent on this issue.”

Jahana Hayes On School Safety and Arming Teachers by Charles Yeganian

From Madeline Will, Education Week:

"I worked in a school with 1,300 young people. I would never want the responsibility of securing a firearm in a school with 1,300 teenagers or having to have a conversation that began, 'I thought I locked my desk,' or 'I don't know how they got the gun away from me.' My husband is a police officer. We have firearms in our house. If there's an active shooter in a school and police are deployed, it's a high-tense, high-pressure situation. To have almost no training and be expected to use a firearm in a high-pressure situation, I don't think I would want that responsibility. And then I think about, you know, my husband as a police officer or a first responder having to figure out if the person holding the gun is the shooter [or] is an educator. I just don't think that that's the direction that we need to move in.

Jahana Hayes to Join Gun Violence Task Force in House by Charles Yeganian

Hayes, who won the teacher-of-the-year award in 2016 for her work in Kennedy High School in her home town of Waterbury, upset the Democrats’ hand-picked candidate in the Democratic primary and went on to beat former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos in the general election last month.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., chair of the task force, suggested that Hayes’ inner-city Waterbury background gave her a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding easy availability of firearms.

“Jahana has seen first-hand the devastation gun violence has on a community,” Thompson said in a statement. “We have a chance to enact real change that will help keep our communities safe from gun violence and I am confident that her leadership and passion on this issue will only strengthen our ability to take action.”

LEAPer Katie Hill Named Co-Representative of Freshman Class by Charles Yeganian

Devon Miller, KHTS:

Hill, alongside Congressman-elect Joe Neguse, D-Colorado, was elected as Co-Freshman Representative to Majority Leadership of the 116th Congress during the House Democratic Caucus votes that took place Wednesday.

“This Freshman class is larger, younger and more diverse than ever before, and that’s not a coincidence – it’s a call to action,” said Hill. “Rep-elect Neguse and I ran as co-representatives because we believe this class deserves a bigger seat at the leadership table to ensure we can fight for the issues most important to the communities we represent.”

Katie Hill on the Borderline Mass Shooting by Charles Yeganian

Let me be clear: you can count on me to advocate for strong, swift and immediate gun violence prevention legislation that will keep people safe, and keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

Two key laws are already in place right now that could have prevented the tragedy at Borderline last week, specifically California’s ban on high capacity magazines — which I have supported from day one — and the Gun Violence Restraining Order. Currently, our high capacity magazine ban is being held up in court by an NRA lawsuit. This is just another example of how the gun lobby is one of our biggest barriers to keeping our communities safe, and why I have never taken NRA money and never will. Gun Violence Restraining Orders are a tool for temporarily removing firearms and ammunition from individuals in crisis, but the law is massively underused. In situations like Borderline, where families saw the red flags, the GVRO can save lives. This legislation has already been passed, but it needs awareness and advocates in order to be effective.
— Katie Hill

Katie’s entire piece can be read on her Medium page.

Gershon Asked About Gun Safety at NY-01 Debate by Charles Yeganian

The subject of responsibility for gun violence came up again with a question from the audience asking what type of gun control legislation each candidate would support.

Gershon said he supports the Second Amendment. “I don’t want to take guns away from honest, hardworking citizens,” he said. But he advocates “universal background checks without loopholes,” he said, including sales at gun shows, and “penalizing people who sell to people that don’t pass background checks.” Congress should renew the assault weapon ban that expired more than a decade ago, Gershon said.

“We should not have concealed-carry reciprocity,” Gershon said, referring to a law that Zeldin cosponsored and voted to pass, which would allow anyone able to carry a concealed weapon in their home state to carry a concealed weapon in any other state. It easily passed the House along party lines in December but has not progressed in the Senate.

“That law makes no sense,” Gershon said. “It will make us all less safe.”

St. Louis American Endorses Cort VanOstran in MO-02 by Charles Yeganian

Something is happening in Missouri’s Second Congressional District. When we endorsed Cort VanOstran in the Democratic primary, we did so in part because he had demonstrated an unprecedented ability to challenge U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), a three-term incumbent and Trump acolyte. He has outraised her in multiple quarters and helped to garner national attention for their race. Now, it looks like we were right. The most recent polling shows that VanOstran in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent Republican, an impressive feat considering that the GOP intentionally redrew the Second Congressional District years ago to try to make it a safe Republican district.

VanOstran’s message has resonated because he believes in the same things that the voters of the Second District believe in: affordable health care, strong public education, common-sense gun reform, getting money out of politics.

Democrats Like Mucarsel-Powell Embrace Gun Safety as a Winning Issue by Charles Yeganian

Gun control is no longer the losing message for swing district Democrats that it used to be. Gun control groups like Giffords PAC are playing in are suburban battlegrounds, and Democrats in swing districts now pledge to stand up to the NRA.

This is a change of tune from past elections, where the battlegrounds were often focused in places where Democrats did not want to talk about, or side with, gun control. This year, a number of suburban Democrats are picking up this messaging in their ads. “I’ll stand up to the NRA to protect our community,” Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is running in FL-26, says in an emotional ad detailing her father’s death.

Barzee-Flores Making FL-25 a Race to Watch by Charles Yeganian

Mary Barzee Flores is “quietly building momentum” in her race in FL-25 against incumbent Mario Diaz Balert, according to Peter Scorch in Florida Politics:

…MDB has been taking it on the chin repeatedly over the last few weeks.

Then came a one-two punch of brutal stories from CBSMiami’s Jim Defede. One a broad piece about the intersection of guns and politics in 2018, that showcased the CD 25 race, along with Diaz-Balart’s post-Parkland NRA funding as the centerpiece of the segment. Then an equally devastating piece that basically implied a pay-to-play nexus between Mario’s seat in congress and the foreign lobbying contracts of his brother, former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Statements from LEAP Forward Candidates on the Squirrel Hill Synagogue Shooting by Charles Yeganian

It's a somber morning for our region. The news of losing members of our community in their sacred, safe space of worship has felt physically painful.

This campaign has allowed me to see the strength our region can have when we unite and support each other. Please reach out to your neighbors and friends, and check in with them this week.

All of us stand together against these acts of hate. May you find safety and solace in however you choose to worship or reflect today.

Tom Malinowski (NJ-07)

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It is fundamental to our American identity that everyone, no matter their faith, race or place of birth, feel welcome among us and safe in expressing who they are. It is fundamental that when Neo-Nazis and other haters march, that we come together against them, and not treat the patriotic Americans who rise up in protest as their equals. It is fundamental that those who represent us do more than release the occasional statement to combat the tide of bigotry that’s been unleashed in our nation. It is past time to put country over party and oppose leaders who cater to extremism and then absolve themselves of responsibility for what they have done.

Today is also another sad reminder that no one in America should be armed with weapons of war like an AR-15. Police officers are the good guys with guns in our country, and they should never be outgunned by murderers with guns.

The Talmud teaches in Sanhedrin 4:5 that those who destroy one life destroy an entire world. At least eight worlds were destroyed today. Eight worlds too many. We must do better.

Megan Hunt (Nebraska LD-08)

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We are a nation in perpetual grief, and we are a nation that needs to reckon with its future. All Americans can agree: gun violence must stop.

"Many sides" are not responsible for the violence, targeted hate, and tragic deaths on the rise in our country. The worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history took place today. We don’t need “both sides”ism. We need leaders to stand against the gun lobby and not only condemn, but take action against this rise in hateful, targeted violence.

I stand with victims and survivors, and against the gun lobby & NRA determining policy in Nebraska. 

Heather Edelson (Minnesota HD-49A):

My thoughts and prayers are with the families from Tree of Life Synagogue and the Pittsburgh community. I empathize so deeply with those directly impacted and feel sick, as a mom and a person of Jewish faith, because I know we can do more to prevent tragedies like this. Today's violent act brings forth so many issues. First, we need to ensure our political leaders are not eliciting hate. Second, this tragedy is further evidence we need to not only pass sensible gun legislation, but we need to improve mental health access. We need leaders who will not back down until we address these issues. It is up to each of us to speak up, speak out and vote.

Annie Hornish (Connecticut HD-07):

Once again, horrifying news of another gun massacre, seemingly a hate crime. And once again, by an angry white male.

We are long overdue for ACTION to address this public health crisis.

I am a gun owner whose father was an Enfield cop, and I will fight for common sense gun laws. My opponent, 25-yr career politician John Kissel works to protect the current NRA's reckless agenda, regardless of how nonsensical: he voted against banning bump stocks (HB 5542, 2018) and ghost guns (HB 5540, 2018), and even voted against the temporary confiscation of guns from those with restraining orders against them for domestic violence (HB 5054, 2016), putting women at great risk.

We need to fight the dystopic vision of Trump and his new brand of Republicans, who pander to the leadership at the NRA. The respectable GOP of old has proven itself impotent to slow the hate-filled, white-nationalist trajectory of their party. I will be a firewall to protect our Connecticut values

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.