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Giffords campaigns for Levin on gun violence issue

San Diego Union-Tribune - 10/15/2018

Oct. 14--With just over three weeks left before the midterms, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords stopped by San Diego on Sunday morning to help Mike Levin campaign in the 49th Congressional District.

Giffords, who stepped down from her Congressional seat after she was shot in the head in 2011, and her husband Capt. Mark Kelly, a Navy veteran and former astronaut, rallied more than 100 volunteers with Levin at his Solana Beach campaign office as part of their Vote Save Lives tour.

Giffords and Kelly are traveling across the U.S. in support of congressional candidates they believe will push for change to reduce gun violence and planned to visit Huntington Beach and Stevenson Ranch later on Sunday.

"It's time to stand up for what's right," Giffords said after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. "Stop gun violence. Vote! Vote! Vote!"

Kelly told the audience about children the couple had met during their ongoing campaign to prevent gun violence. When Kelly asked a group of a dozen children from different socioeconomic backgrounds if they knew someone who had been shot, every one of them raised their hands, he said.

In a group of 42 children from the west side of Chicago, when he asked how many knew someone who had been shot and killed, all but two raised their hands.

"We have the highest level of gun violence in the developed world," Kelly said. "We are like no other country on the planet."

Levin, a Democrat, called Giffords and Kelly "American heroes" and criticized his Republican opponent Diane Harkey for having an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.

Bryan Shroyer, spokesman for Harkey's campaign, responded to Levin's criticism with a few digs of his own.

"This event only highlights what we already know: Levin is going to continue to run on an extreme, out-of-touch platform that voters in this district do not want," Shroyer said. "Whether it's open borders, higher taxes, or socialized medicine, Levin is working against the voters in this district."

When asked about gun violence in schools during an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board, Harkey said the issue has more to do with mental health than access to guns.

"You're not going to solve the problem by taking away a gun," Harkey said.

Levin said Congress has failed to act on the issue for gun violence for too long. If elected, he plans to push for universal background checks and funding for research on gun violence as well as a ban on "military-style assault weapons."

"We need to get to the bottom of this epidemic," Levin said.

Linda Brown came with her husband and stepdaughter from Napa to attend Levin's event with her 90-year-old father Leonard Brown, who lives in University City.

She said there were many reasons that she wanted to support Levin, including his stance on gun violence and his climate change platform.

Her father said he hoped to see less negativity from politicians.

"We've got to fight the fear and provide hope," Linda Brown said, agreeing with him.

"Amen," Leonard Brown said.

Nikki Faddick, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said having the former congresswoman visit the campaign was motivating for people like her.

"It puts a real face on the issue," Faddick said.

Levin's campaign will release a new ad Monday featuring Giffords and Kelly that asks, "How can we stop the shootings?"

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(c)2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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