Democrat Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman wounded in a mass shooting six years ago, called out U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Twitter after the Aurora Republican voted to make it easier for gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines without running afoul of conflicting state laws.
Giffords, who has endorsed one of Coffman’s Democratic challengers in next year’s election, tweeted to Coffman after first quoting the congressman’s Oct 2 tweet conveying his thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families after a gunman killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 in a mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“Thoughts & prayers alone will not prevent the next horrific massacre,” Giffords wrote in her tweet. “I’m disappointed that @RepMikeCoffman just voted to weaken our gun laws. This is not the kind of leadership our nation needs.”
Coffman voted with the 231-198 majority earlier Wednesday to approve the legislation, known as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would allow gun owners with a concealed-carry permit issued in any state to carry a handgun in any other state that allows concealed weapons. The vote fell mostly along party lines.
In all, Giffords tweeted similar messages Wednesday night to 38 Republicans who voted in favor of the concealed-carry legislation.
The bill, a top priority of the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups, is the first gun measure Congress has considered since October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas and another in early November at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that killed 26 people. The bill heads next to the Senate.
Calling the legislation a “common sense policy” that will still allow states to dictate where concealed firearms can be carried within their borders, Coffman compared the concealed-carry permits to drivers licenses, which are valid in every state.
“Like drivers licenses, concealed carry permit holders from out of state will still have to know and abide by Colorado laws,” Coffman said in a statement. “Additionally, this bill will provide grant funding to states to improve their reporting compliance and hold federal agencies accountable to ensure criminals are properly entered into the background check system.”
Critics of the bill say states that place strict limits on who can carry concealed weapons will have no say on armed visitors from states with lax requirements.
Included in the bill is a measure to bolster the FBI’s database of Americans prohibited from buying guns. Backers said it’s in response to news the Air Force failed to report the Sutherland Springs shooter’s domestic violence conviction to the national database, which could have kept him from acquiring guns used in the massacre. A leading House Democrat, however, called it a cynical maneuver to include the provision in the bill because it forced Democrats to vote against background checks.
A gun violence prevention organization called Giffords, founded by Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, endorsed Coffman challenger Jason Crow, a Democrat, last month. She said the attorney and Army veteran “has shown the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and help lead the effort to reduce gun violence in our country.”
Coffman, running for his sixth term in the swing 6th Congressional District, is the only Colorado congressional candidate to have taken more than $100,000 in contributions from gun rights groups since 1990, according to an analysis conducted by Politico and the Center for Responsive Politics the day after the Las Vegas mass shooting, the deadliest in modern American history.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.