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Powerful New Ad in Virginia SD-8: Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund Partnering with Missy Cotter Smasal Campaign to Launch TV and Digital Ad Featuring Virginia Beach Shooting Survivor

September 30, 2019

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund Contributing $100,000 to Missy Cotter Smasal’s Campaign in SD-8 to Help Air the Ad in Hampton Roads Media Market, As Part of Nearly $200,000 Total TV Ad Buy

Contribution is Part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s $2.5 Million Effort to Elect a Gun Sense Majority in Virginia’s General Assembly

NEW YORK — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund announced that it is contributing $100,000 to Missy Cotter Smasal’s campaign for Virginia’s 8th Senate District in order to help air a powerful new TV ad in the Hampton Roads media market, and be incorporated into Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund’s digital advertising campaign in Virginia’s 2019 elections. The contribution is part of Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund’s $2.5 million effort to elect a gun sense majority in Virginia’s General Assembly — Everytown’s most robust commitment ever in the Commonwealth. Last week, Everytown donated $175,000 to support gun safety-themed TV ad buys totaling $400,000 from Sheila Bynum-Coleman in Virginia’s 66th House District and John Bell in Virginia’s 13th Senate District.

The TV ad, “Karen,” features Karen Havekost, a survivor of the Virginia Beach mass shooting that left 12 people dead and four more wounded, speaking direct-to-camera. In the ad, Havekost describes encountering the shooter in the hallway at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, and criticizes Senator Bill DeSteph for voting to block gun safety legislation after the mass shooting.


“You can learn a lot about leaders by how they respond to a crisis — so it speaks volumes that Missy Cotter Smasal responded to the Virginia Beach tragedy by organizing a town hall on gun violence prevention, while Bill DeSteph opted to speak at an NRA meeting and oppose background check and red flag laws,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Everytown is going all-in to flip the General Assembly and create a gun-sense majority that will stand up for people of the Commonwealth — not the gun lobby.”

In July, following the mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, Virginia’s Republican-led General Assembly voted to adjourn a special session on gun violence just 90 minutes after it began, without any votes on proposed gun safety legislation, including red flag legislation (also known as extreme risk legislation) and legislation to require background checks on all gun sales.

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund’s previously announced electoral work in Virginia’s 2019 elections includes:

  • A commitment to spend $2.5 million in Virginia’s 2019 elections.
  • Launching a $550,000 digital ad offensive in 15 Republican-held districts.
  • Contributing $175,000 to the campaigns of  Sheila Bynum-Coleman in Virginia’s 66th House District and John Bell in Virginia’s 13th Senate District to help air each candidate’s gun safety-themed TV ads.
  • Endorsing 25 candidates — 22 running in the most competitive districts in the commonwealth — and making $113,000 in direct contributions to endorsed candidates.
  • Contributing $125,000 to the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, $100,000 to the Virginia House Democratic Caucus and $100,000 to Take the Majority (Democratic Party of Virginia).
  • Launching $135,000 in digital ads in 14 Republican-held Virginia state-House and Senate districts.
  • Unveiling results of a battleground message poll, which found gun safety to be a top issue among voters in swing areas of Virginia.

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