Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who once supported the NRA, has emerged as a leading gun safety candidate in Tucson’s CD2 Congressional primary race. Among her supporters:
- She was just named a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Candidate. The group pressures lawmakers to improve gun laws, raises awareness about gun violence and educates the public about common-sense gun laws and responsible gun ownership.
- She is endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. It announced the goal to cut the number of U.S. gun deaths in half by 2025 through background checks that are applied to all gun sales; to “Stop ‘Bad Apple’ Gun Dealers” – the 5 percent of gun dealers that supply 90 percent of all crime guns; and to change social norms around the real dangers of guns.
- She’s endorsed by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Founded by shooting survivor and former Congressman Gabby Giffords, the center’s legal experts research, write, and defend the laws, policies, and programs proven to save lives from gun violence.
Democrats Matt Heinz and Mary Matiella are also Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense candidates. All seven of the Democratic primary candidates support gun safety measures.
But Kirkpatrick stands out because she is a convert, making her more persuasive. Several years ago she supported the NRA, but not anymore. When the facts change, intelligent people change their minds, and she has.
“The NRA couldn’t care less about your right to hunt or defend yourself. They are a lobbying association with one goal: sell more guns. That’s why they will try to defeat the smallest of reforms, even when a majority of gun owners support the measure,” Kirkpatrick says. “It’s time to fight the gun companies and their political campaigns fighting against those reforms. It’s time to fight the NRA directly.”
“I now have a ‘D” rating from the NRA,” she says. “I voted to strengthen background checks, to close down the gun show loophole, to stop people on the terrorist watch list from getting guns, and to stop stalkers and domestic abusers from getting guns,” she said. “That’s why Gabby Giffords endorsed me.”
She especially supports the Be Smart program of Moms Demand Action, where parents ask about the presence of guns before agreeing to a play date for their child. “I have three grandchildren in Tucson and it’s important to me that they are in a safe household.”
Voters in CD2 broadly support common-sense policies to prevent gun violence. According to a 2014 survey of voters in the 2nd Congressional District:
- 89% say that laws covering gun sales should be made stronger.
- 87% say that preventing the sale of guns to domestic abusers is an excellent or good idea.
- 86% say that requiring background checks for all gun sales is an excellent or good idea.
- 77% see gun violence prevention as an important issue for Congress to focus on.
Many donors and followers
Kirkpatrick is has a broad base of supporters. Of the $1.2 million she has raised in donations, $1 million were in small donations (median $10) made by individuals. On Facebook, she has 47,365 followers – more than 10 times more than the other Democratic rivals. On Twitter, she has 8,152 followers, second only to Billy Kovacs, who has 9,199 followers.
She has strong Tucson roots, including a son who is a physicist at Raytheon and a daughter who is a resident at University Medical Center. Kirkpatrick attended the UA where she got a B.A. and a law degree. She taught at John Spring Junior High School on E 2nd Street and clerked for Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and US District Chief Judge John M. Roll. He was killed on Jan. 8, 2011 at the same event where Giffords was shot.
Kirkpatrick became a Deputy Pima County Attorney for four years, prosecuting drug crimes. In 2004, she was elected to the first of two terms in the Arizona state House.
In 2008, she was elected to Congress. She was re-elected in 2012 and 2014, representing a district that ran from Marana and Oro Valley all the way to Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation.
Trump in Tucson?
According to Kirkpatrick, President Trump “wants the CD2 race to be all about him.” Trump is deeply unpopular and his support has torpedoed the elections of Republican candidates in Alabama, Pennsylvania, and other states.
At the NRA national convention on May 4, Trump told the crowd of gun zealots, “You have an administration fighting to protect your Second Amendment. Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never ever be under siege as long as I’m your President.”
“We really hope he comes to Tucson,” Kirkpatrick said.