Gabrielle Giffords Endorses Philip Murphy for New Jersey Governor

Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who emerged as a high-profile advocate for tighter gun laws across the country after she was wounded in a mass shooting, endorsed Philip D. Murphy for New Jersey governor on Thursday.

Her political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, praised Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, as a “strong advocate for responsible gun violence prevention policies.” The organization has backed candidates who are in favor of more gun control in races nationwide; this month, it announced support for Democrats running for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in Virginia.

Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut who founded the committee with his wife, Ms. Gifford, in 2013, announced the endorsement on Thursday.

“New Jersey’s next governor will have an important role in combating gun violence and advancing solutions to make communities safer,” Mr. Kelly said. “We believe Phil is best qualified to take on that important challenge.”

New Jersey is widely regarded as having some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has ranked the state as having the third-strongest gun laws in the United States, and the National Rifle Association has regularly urged its members to push back against the state’s “out-of-touch, anti-gun lawmakers.”

In recent weeks, law enforcement officials in New Jersey organized gun buyback programs in Newark, Camden and Trenton, where guns could be turned in for as much as $200 in cash. In all, 4,775 firearms, including 129 assault weapons, were collected, and state officials described the haul as a “major success.”.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has vetoed numerous gun control measures in recent years, including one that would have reduced magazine capacity and regulations that would have made it more difficult for gun owners to obtain a concealed carry permit. He has described the state’s gun laws as “overly burdensome” and supported loosening the restrictions.

Mr. Murphy has said that he would have signed the gun measures that Mr. Christie blocked. On Thursday, he said that he supported mandatory gun safety training, blocking those with mental illnesses from obtaining guns and tightening rules on gun transfers.

“I pledge that I will be an entirely different type of governor,” Mr. Murphy said, adding that New Jersey could serve as a “national role model” and had the potential to “prove that sensible gun safety laws can prevent violence while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding residents.”

Mr. Murphy has sought to connect his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, with Mr. Christie’s stances on guns. But Ms. Guadagno has distanced herself from the governor on some issues. And in a statement on Thursday, her campaign said that she “supports efforts to enforce our state’s gun laws already on the books instead of passing new laws that restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Ms. Giffords, a Democrat, was shot in the head from close range when a gunman opened fire in 2011 at an event where she was meeting constituents, leaving six people dead. Her injuries left her with physical impairments, including limits to her vision and speaking ability.

But she has returned to the public stage as a prominent figure pushing against gun violence, including appearances last year with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail and at the Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Kelly noted in a call with reporters on Thursday that he was a native of West Orange, N.J., where his parents were both police officers. He said that he believed Mr. Murphy would “stand up to the corporate gun lobby and will never stop working to make New Jersey communities safer.”

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