Smith Scores Gabby Giffords Organization Endorsement

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, Republican Representative for New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District, picked up an endorsement from Giffords, a gun-control advocacy organization founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who was shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner in January of 2011.  Giffords survived, suffering brain injury as a result of the assassination attempt, and later became a champion of the gun control movement.  Pennsylvania Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, also Republican, was endorsed by Giffords as well as the Brady PAC.

Giffords said in a statement that Smith and Fitzpatrick were original co-sponsors of HR8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.  Additionally, they have “consistently stood up to the gun lobby by supporting gun safety legislation while similarly opposing concealed carry reciprocity—the top priority for the National Rifle Association.”

The foundation said praised Smith’s, “his keen ability to work across the aisle to get things done,” further adding that, “His voting record reveals his tireless commitment to enacting bipartisan gun safety legislation. He was an original cosponsor of H.R. 8, the 2019 House-passed universal background checks bill. Additionally, Congressman Smith has voted in favor of legislation to address the Charleston loophole. He also supports extreme risk laws and prohibiting convicted domestic abusers and stalkers from purchasing guns. New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District can count on Congressman Smith to continue advocating for commonsense gun safety measures.”

Gun control remains a hot-topic issue in America and a contentious matter particularly for New Jersey Republicans who need to balance party ideology with broader popular sentiment in a dark-purple state.  With Smith seeking re-election in a year which is, in both practice as well as spirit, a referendum on the Trump Administration, he has proven himself a survivor: the last Republican congressman standing after the 2018 “Blue Wave” until Jeff Van Drew changed parties to join the GOP.

Despite gun control being a pillar of opposition for the Republican Party in general, the endorsement may come as an advantage for Smith’s appeal among some Democrats satisfied with their veteran legislator and, most importantly, unaffiliated voters in a state which has some of the strictest firearms legislation in the country and is unlikely to harm his electoral prospects.  The 67 year-old incumbent’s handy defeat of primary challenger Alter Richter 94.86% to 5.14% demonstrates a secure party base that has continued to deliver him to Washington DC for 39 years as he continues his campaign against Democrat Stephanie Schmid.

“Brian Fitzpatrick and Chris Smith have shown the courage and bipartisan commitment to stand up for gun safety and oppose the NRA’s agenda,” the former Congresswoman said in a statement.  “When an overwhelming majority of Americans demanded universal background checks, they answered the call to protect our communities from the epidemic of gun violence. At a time when Washington seems more divided than ever, these champions proved it’s still possible to pass real, bipartisan reform to build a stronger, safer America. Giffords is proud to support these leaders in their fight for meaningful change.”

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