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Gabby Giffords’ gun safety PAC endorses Maura Healey for governor

Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords's PAC endorsed Attorney General Maura Healey for governor.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

As the nation waits for the Supreme Court to issue a ruling in a New York gun rights case that could weaken gun laws in states like Massachusetts, a gun safety organization founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, threw its weight behind Democratic candidate for governor Attorney General Maura Healey.

Giffords endorsed Healey Wednesday after a roundtable attended by the former congresswoman and local community leaders in Chelsea at Roca Boston, a nonprofit aimed at addressing urban violence among youth.

“The ripple effects of gun violence are profound . . . we can do so much better as a society, and should,” Healey said during the event. “One is making sure that we enforce the laws we have here in Massachusetts. Background checks, extreme risk protection orders. All these things are common sense and save lives.”

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She spoke of addressing gun violence at a national level, applauding the bipartisan gun reform package that came out of the US Senate as a good first step. But more can and should be done, Healey said, for the country to better mirror Massachusetts’ strong laws. She acknowledged that the decision that is yet to come down from the Supreme Court is “probably not what many of us in this space are looking for” but that Massachusetts will continue to play a role in pushing for stronger reforms on the federal level, like “red flag” laws or more robust background checks.

When it comes to reforms in the state, Healey said Massachusetts should continue to enforce the laws already on the books. There is no specific legislation she would propose as governor to further strengthen existing laws, she said.

“I am open to whatever we need to do to address and reduce gun violence in our state, but I also think there are things we know we can do, including enforcement of existing gun laws, support for national reforms . . . and showing the support for particular communities that are plagued by gun violence,” she said.

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Giffords has supported Healey in the past. In 2016, she put out a statement of support when the attorney general faced sexist and homophobic attacks, and in 2018 applauded the attorney general for defending the state’s assault weapons ban, which was challenged by the gun lobby but upheld in the courts.

Giffords is a victim of gun violence herself and became an advocate after she was shot in the head when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where she was meeting with constituents in Arizona.

Earlier in the day, Giffords spoke at a gun violence awareness panel at Fenway Park alongside gun control activist and March for Our Lives founder David Hogg, Stop Handgun Violence co-founder John Rosenthal, and Massachusetts US Attorney Rachael Rollins. She will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Thursday when the Red Sox play the Oakland Athletics.

Neither Healey nor her Democratic primary opponent, state Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, have gun safety as part of their official campaign platforms, though they have both been outspoken on urging Congress to take action on federal-level reforms.

Both Healey and Giffords applauded the bipartisan gun reform package that came out of the US Senate as a good first step. Giffords called it a “small thing, but good stuff.”

“A lot of us agree there is a lot more that can and should be done,” Healey said.

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The former congresswoman has also endorsed US Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Katherine Clark, Lori Trahan, and Seth Moulton in their re-election campaigns.


Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthajgross.