Giffords, a gun safety advocacy group, is backing outgoing House Democratic Leader Janet Cruzin the Senate District 18 race against incumbent Republican Dana Young.
The group was founded by Democratic former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, who survived an attempted assassination by a gunman in 2011. She was shot in the head and recovered; six others were killed and 18 injured.
The endorsement will likely come with some additional ad buys. The group uses a mixture of television and digital advertising to defeat politicians who work against gun reform.
“America experienced three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history in just the past year. Over 38,000 people in our country were killed by a gun in 2016,” Giffords said.
“Florida has suffered from this crisis: somebody is killed by a gun in Florida every 3 hours. Despite this devastating reality, the gun lobby continues to use its cash and influence to try and stop state legislatures from passing laws to make our schools, streets, and communities safer.”
Cruz frequently criticizes Young on her voting record on guns. Young has an A rating from the National Rifle Association, which grades lawmakers based on their positions and voting records on pro and anti-gun issues.
The two are in a heated contest for the Tampa Senate district.
“Families don’t want to arm teachers with weapons, they want our educators to be armed with higher salaries,” Cruz campaign manager Tim Wagner said. “Dana Young walked away from a critical vote that would have kept families safer by banning military-style assault weapons.”
Young says “no parent should have to worry about their children when they send them to school. This year we passed a bill to provide historic mental health and security resources in our schools, but there is so much more work to be done.
“I’ll never back down from keeping our schools safe.”
Young voted in favor of the school safety bill this legislative session that increased funding for mental health services and provided additional armed security for schools. It also increased the age a person can purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. The bill did not include a ban on assault weapons many gun control advocates had called for.
The school safety bill does allow highly trained teachers like former members of the military to carry firearms in school with the proper certification.
The gun issue came up during a Tiger Bay event last month in which both candidates blasted the other on gun issues. Young claimed Cruz was the one ignoring student safety because she put politics above policy when she voted against the school safety bill.