Watch: Gun safety group pumps $175K into TV ads for two key candidates in Virginia state legislature elections

By Davis Burroughs

September 27, 2019

The largest gun violence prevention action group in the country announced today that it is donating $175,000 to help air TV ads highlighting two key Democratic candidate’s support for gun safety laws, an issue that’s gained momentum since the May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

Everytown for Gun Safety is financing the ads, which promote Sheila Bynum-Coleman’s campaign for Virginia’s 66th House District and Del. John Bell’s campaign for the 13th Senate District. Both candidates are locked in tight races against Republicans that could determine which party control the General Assembly in 2020.

Bynum-Coleman is running against House Speaker Kirk Cox, one of the most powerful Republicans in Virginia. Recently, during a special session of the General Assembly on gun control, Cox played a leading role in sending lawmakers home after just 90 minutes without allowing for a single vote on bills like universal background checks. Many of the bills Cox declined to consider enjoy broad public support, but Cox called the session an “election-year stunt.” 

In an interview with the Dogwood, Bynum-Coleman said Cox routinely obstructs debate on essential issues that matter to his constituents. “My daughter getting shot was not an election-year stunt,” she said.

Bynum-Coleman’s daughter was shot leaving a party in 2016. She was critically injured but survived the attack.

“Ending gun violence is personal to me,” Bynum-Coleman says in the new 30-second TV ad. “We can protect families by expanding background checks and keeping guns out of dangerous hands,” she continues.

“Cox cares more about the gun lobby than our families,” Bynum-Coleman concludes.

“In the wake of the Virginia Beach mass shooting, Republican lawmakers chose to protect the gun lobby,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown, said in a statement. “So now Everytown is going all-out to elect leaders who realize their first duty is protecting the people.”

Bell is among those leaders. “In the House, I have consistently introduced common-sense legislation to prevent gun violence, only to see it die at the hands of partisan politics every single year,” he said in a statement. Bell sits on the Militia and Public Safety Committee, which often gets the first look at firearms legislation. “In the Senate, I will continue to make gun violence prevention my top priority,” he said.

The ad supporting Bell highlights another recent shooting by a stray bullet that took place in Loudoun County in Northern Virginia. Like Cox, Bell’s opponent Geary Higgins has previously worked to kill gun safety bills. As a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Higgins voted against a local ordinance that proponents said would help protect Virginians from stray bullets.

The ads will air in the Richmond and Washington, D.C. markets. Everytown claims they are the first gun safety-themed TV ads to air in Virginia’s 2019 elections.

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