Gabby Giffords supports N.J. Republican congressman in re-election bid

Former congresswoman, a Democrat, is backing GOP U.S. Reps. Leonard Lance and Chris Smith of New Jersey and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, a New Jersey Republican (AP, file)

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a shooting survivor, has endorsed New Jersey Republican U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, who’s facing a competitive re-election battle this fall.

Giffords, a crusader for gun control since her 2011 shooting, noted that Lance “was one of the first members of Congress to co-sponsor a bipartisan bill to ban bump stocks.”

Lance said in an interview he’s also supported implementing universal background checks, closing regulatory loopholes for gun shows, and renewing federal research into the effects of gun violence.

“These are all common-sense measures, and they’re supported overwhelmingly,” Lance said. They’re “supported by those who believe in strong protections for the Second Amendment, as I do.”

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Lance’s Democratic challenger, former assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowsky, said Lance’s move toward more gun-control measures is just election-year expediency.

“For years, he bragged about his 100 percent voting record from the National Rifle Association,” Malinowsky said.

Malinowsky emailed a screen shot of Lance’s congressional web site from May 2012 that touts Lance’s 100 percent NRA voting record and his opposition to a banning assault weapons ban and funding a national gun registry database — as well as his vote to repeal the National Parks gun ban.

Malinowsky said there’s another point voters should consider.

“None of those [gun-control] bills even has a chance of passing the House of Representatives so long as the Republican majority remains in place,” he said, asserting that the GOP leadership will keep the bills from reaching a vote.

Lance said he respects members of the NRA, but he considers votes on gun-related measures one at a time on their own merits. In the current Congress, he said, he voted with the NRA twice and against it twice.

He said he hadn’t received a campaign contribution from the NRA since 2012, a $1,000 donation. Giffords gave Lance’s campaign $2,000 earlier this year.

Lance is one of only three Republicans in the U.S. endorsed this year by Giffords. The others are New Jersey U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, and Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.

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