Americans for Responsible Solutions

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Americans for Responsible Solutions
Americans for Responsible Solutions logo.png
FoundedJanuary 8, 2013 (2013-01-08)
FounderGabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly
FocusGun control advocacy
OriginsTucson and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings
Area served
United States
ServicesIssue advocacy and political action committee
$21,343,357 (2014)[1]

Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) was a United States non-profit organization and super PAC that supports gun control.[2][3] The group's stated goal is "to encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership."[4] It typically supports Democratic politicians in elections.[5] In 2016, the organization joined the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to become Giffords.[6]


ARS was formed by Gabrielle Giffords, a former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and her husband, Mark Kelly, in the weeks following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of December 14, 2012. Giffords' political career ended on January 8, 2011, when she and 18 others were shot at a meeting with constituents in a Tucson, Arizona, suburb.

Giffords and Kelly said they sought to reduce gun violence by matching the gun lobby in its reach and resources.[7] In a network news interview, Kelly said he went through a background check to buy a gun at a store and that private firearms sales should also require checks.[8] Three days later, the Wall Street Journal said that Americans for Responsible Solutions and Mayors Against Illegal Guns were "emerging as key voices in the gun control effort."[9]


Americans for Responsible Solutions supported getting the names of everyone not allowed to buy a gun into the background check system, a mandatory background check for every gun purchase or transfer of possession, including between private citizens,[10] limiting domestic abusers' access to firearms,[11] stopping gun trafficking,[12] preventing the carrying of firearms in certain locations,[3] and maintaining silencers as a title II device.[13][14]

Gun control advocacy[edit]

In January 2013, two years after being shot and one month after the Sandy Hook shooting, Giffords was a witness at a congressional hearing on gun violence, where she called for Congress to pass tougher laws on guns.[15] In his testimony, Kelly called for a "careful and civil conversation" regarding guns.[16][17]

Federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on purchasers, but it does not require private citizens to run checks.[18][19] In March 2013, Kelly said that "any bill that does not include a universal background check is a mistake. It's the most common-sense thing we can do to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from having access to weapons."[20][21]

In April 2013, after a bi-partisan bill to expand background checks failed to pass the Senate, Americans for Responsible Solutions issued a statement from Giffords and Kelly saying that senators who voted against the bill put gun lobby leaders before their constituents.[22] The day after the vote, Kelly said the 2014 elections were "a target rich environment after yesterday."[23]

In August 2013, ARS returned three donations, one from Bette Midler, after the Center for Public Integrity reported that the donations were prohibited by the Internal Revenue Service, which does not allow tax-deductible donations from nonprofits to super PACs.[24]

Electoral activity[edit]

2014 congressional elections[edit]

In October 2013, ARS reported that it wanted to spend $19 million in the 2014 elections, which was the same amount the NRA spent in 2012. As of October 2013, donors had contributed over $11 million to the group.[25] On November 8, 2013, a sister organization was announced. Veterans for Responsible Solutions will visit Congress and write op-eds.[26][27] In June 2014, ARS Executive Director Pia Carusone said it would meet and exceed the fundraising goal it set at the start of the 2014 campaign.[28]

ARS ran advertisements in the 2014 election cycle opposing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst in Iowa.[29] ARS endorsed Ernst's Democratic opponent, Bruce Braley. ARS also endorsed Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Mark Udall, Mary Landrieu, Jeanne Shaheen, Kay Hagan, Gary Peters and Al Franken and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Susan Collins.[30][31][32]

In the 2014 election cycle, nearly one-third of the organization's spending went to bolster the campaign of Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide who ultimately lost his Arizona congressional seat to Republican Martha McSally. ARS reported spending $6.9 million in the 2014 cycle, $2 million of it for Democrats and $4.2 million against Republicans. Of that money, $238,000 went to support Ron Barber and $1.8 million went to oppose McSally.[33]

ARS stopped running a controversial anti-McSally advertisement that was deemed "vile" by the Arizona Republic.[34][35] The advertisement accused McSally of supporting policies that made it easier for stalkers to get guns. Overall in 2014, ARS lost more congressional races than it won.[36]

2016 elections[edit]

Among the ARS endorsements in the 2016 federal elections were Republican senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mark Kirk of Illinois.[37] According to Giffords, they "broke from the gun lobby and supported a bill to help prevent felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms at gun shows and online."[37] Endorsement for Mark Kirk was later withdrawn after he mocked the Asian heritage of his opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).[38]

Other senate endorsements include Democrats Michael Bennet of Colorado, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, and Jason Kander of Missouri.[37][39]

Creating Giffords[edit]

In 2016, Americans for Responsible Solutions joined the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and launched a joint organization known as Giffords.[6]


  1. ^ "Americans for Responsible Solutions". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  2. ^ Delreal, Jose (June 3, 2014). "Gabrielle Giffords group targets 2014 races". Politico. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Torres, Kristina (2014-02-26). "Gabby Giffords' national gun control group targets Georgia". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 27, 2014. Americans for Responsible Solutions, a national gun control organization… .
  4. ^ "About Us". Americans for Responsible Solutions. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  5. ^ Frizell, Sam (August 22, 2016). "Gabby Giffords' Gun Control Group Endorses Two Republican Senators". Time. Retrieved 17 September 2016. Americans for Responsible Solutions is usually more aligned with Democrats sympathetic to expanding background checks and passing gun safety laws.
  6. ^ a b "About Giffords: History". Giffords. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  7. ^ Giffords, Gabrielle; Mark Kelly (January 8, 2013). "Giffords and Kelly: Fighting gun violence". USA Today. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  8. ^ Newcomb, Alyssa; Lana Zak (January 8, 2013). "Giffords, Kelly Say 'Enough' to Gun Violence on 2nd Anniversary of Tucson Shooting". ABC News. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  9. ^ Nelson, Colleen McCain; Gary Fields (January 11, 2013). "Biden's Gun Push Draws NRA Ire". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Weiner, Joann (January 30, 2013). "Giffords tells Congress 'Too many children are dying' from gun violence". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  16. ^ "Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013 (Transcript)". The Washington Post. January 30, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  17. ^ Bash, Dana; Tom Cohen (January 30, 2013). "Wounded Giffords urges senators to act now against gun violence". CNN. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  18. ^ Cooper, Michael; Schmidt, Michael S.; Luo, Michael (April 10, 2013). "Loopholes in Gun Laws Allow Buyers to Skirt Checks". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  19. ^ "Private Sales Policy Summary (Universal Background Checks)". Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. May 21, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2013. Although the private sale loophole is frequently referred to as the 'gun show' loophole (because of the particular problems associated with gun shows), it applies to all private firearm sales, regardless of where they occur.
  20. ^ Edwards-Levy, Ariel (April 3, 2013). "Mark Kelly: Background Checks Are Crucial, But NRA 'Right' On Mental Health Records". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  21. ^ Kelly, March (March 31, 2013). "Mark Kelly on whether call to action on gun control is fading". Fox News Sunday (transcript). Interviewed by Chris Wallace. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  22. ^ Giffords, Gabby; Mark Kelly (April 17, 2013). "Statement of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly on Senate Vote on Background Checks" (Press release). Americans for Responsible Solutions. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  23. ^ Saenz, Arlette (April 18, 2013). "Mark Kelly on Gun Vote: 'Gabby Is Angry Today'". ABC News. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  24. ^ Beckel, Michael (August 15, 2013). "Giffords' gun group to return Midler foundation donation". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  25. ^ Greve, Joan E. (October 12, 2013). "Gabby Giffords' Gun Control Group Hopes to Go Head-to-Head With NRA in 2014". ABC News. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  26. ^ Hillyard, Vaughn (November 8, 2013). "Gun-control group establishes veteran organization". NBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  27. ^ Parks, MaryAlice (November 9, 2013). "Gabrielle Giffords' Gun Control Group Expands To Include Veterans". ABC News. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  28. ^ Thomas, Ken. "Gun control group focused on at least 11 races". Associated Press. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  29. ^ Jackson, Sharyn (October 27, 2014). "New ad from Gabby Giffords' PAC attacks Ernst's position on guns". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  30. ^ "Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC Announces 2014 Federal Electoral Priorities to Support Champions for Common Sense". Americans for Responsible Solutions. June 3, 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  31. ^ Stokols, Eli (June 3, 2014). "Giffords' gun control group will support Udall, may target Coffman". FOX 31. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  32. ^ Delreal, Jose (June 3, 2014). "Gabrielle Giffords group targets 2014 races". Politico. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  33. ^ Bump, Philip (November 6, 2014). "Nearly one-third of spending by Giffords's pro-gun control group went to help former aide". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  34. ^ Parti, Tarini (September 23, 2014). "Former Rep. Gabby Giffords' group nixes tough Martha McSally ad". Politico. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  35. ^ Glueck, Katie (November 19, 2014). "Gabrielle Giffords' group: We'll push gun debate in 2016". Politico. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  36. ^ Fitzpatrick, Jack (March 1, 2015). "Giffords's Gun-Control Group Plots Path Forward After Rough 2014 Debut". National Journal. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  37. ^ a b c Sherfinski, David (August 23, 2016). "Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk endorsed by Gabrielle Giffords' gun control group". Washington Times. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  38. ^ McAuliff, Micheal (October 30, 2016). "GOP Senator Loses Key Endorsements Over Anti-Asian Jab". Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  39. ^ Vazquez, Maegan (September 15, 2016). "Blindfolded Veteran Assembles AR-15 to Make a Point About Gun Control". Independent Journal Review. Retrieved 17 September 2016.

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