Veterans Join Gun Reform Activists On Front Lines Of The Gun Violence Debate

“We’ve had more Americans killed in high schools in this country in the last year than have been killed in Afghanistan."

As gun safety remains a highly divisive topic in the United States, gun violence protection organization Giffords is hoping to help bridge the gap between parties with the help of some of our nation's veterans. 

According to HuffPost, the group is partnering with veterans in order to launch "There Is No Other Side," a campaign that seeks to find a middle ground in the contentious ongoing conversation around gun control. With the 2018 midterm elections quickly approaching, Giffords is giving veterans who don't believe that guns are a partisan issue an opportunity to speak out and urge others to rethink the way they approach the gun debate. 

The organization, which was co-founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and husband Capt. Mark Kelly, has already recruited some high-ranking officials for its campaign. Among them is Gen. Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general who spent almost 40 years in service in the U.S. Air Force and also held positions in the CIA and National Security Agency.    

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Hayden appeared in a new video for the campaign released on Monday, in which he cited the sobering amount of shooting-related deaths over the past year as evidence of a need for action. "We've had more Americans killed in high schools in this country in the last year than have been killed in Afghanistan," he says.

He also referenced the Second Amendment, which is often used as an anti-gun control argument, suggesting that support for the amendment doesn't have to be in direct opposition to support for gun safety. "No one's challenging the right of the American people to keep and bear arms. That heritage, which I deeply respect, doesn't require us to unintelligent about this," Hayden states in the video. "When you witness some of the things that have happened in our society, the innocents being killed — I've gotta say, as a veteran, there is no other side to this argument."

The "There Is No Other Side" initiative will continue its push prior to the 2018 midterms with more videos like the one featuring Hayden, additional press conferences, and meetings with legislators. 

"Through an exciting mixture of video testimonials from veteran leaders and organizing work in key states, our goal is to meet people where they are at,"  Stasha Rhodes, Giffords Director of Engagement, told A Plus via email. "In the coming months, veterans will help us connect and reach even more Americans to make clear that stronger gun safety laws should not be a partisan issue. We can unite behind the idea that it will save lives."

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