Two groups pushing for stricter gun laws are targeting a Republican congressman in California with a new ad that invokes a school shooting in the state.
Giffords and SoCal Healthcare Coalition are putting six figures behind a new ad titled, “Stand Up For Us,” which will run on cable in the month before California’s June 5 primary. The ad targets Rep. Steve Knight, who represents California’s 25th Congressional District, and calls on him to “reject the NRA and accept common sense gun laws.”
Knight represents suburbs north of Los Angeles, and his seat has been labeled a toss-up by CNN. Knight is in one of the 23 districts currently held by Republicans where Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The ad shows a student recalling her experience during a school shooting at Highland High School in Palmdale, California, and notes that Knight has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and says he has accepted “$15,000 from the Gun Lobby.”
“I saw the shots fired and I ran for my life. I realized I didn’t say ‘I love you’ to my mom that morning, and that really scared me,” Highland High School student Isabel Pimentel says in the ad. “It’s time to call on our representative Steve Knight to reject the NRA and support commonsense gun laws.”
The ad comes amid a push by activist groups to make gun control an issue in certain key districts, particularly in the suburban areas that favored Clinton in 2016.
A 14-year-old boy went to his former high school in Palmdale, last Friday, where he started shooting a semiautomatic rifle around 7 a.m. PT, CNN previously reported. A 15-year-old male student was hit by the gunfire in his shoulder and was in surgery that afternoon, but officials said he was expected to recover.
The shooting prompted protestors to hold a vigil outside of Knight’s office, a local ABC station reported. The vigil is just one of several recent demonstrations demanding action from lawmakers on gun control, a call that was renewed following a deadly mass shooting earlier this year at a high school in Florida.
California primary elections are set to take place on June 5. Due to California’s jungle primary, he will face four Democrats running in the race, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election.
Although Knight opposes stricter gun laws, he has taken steps to address school shootings.
In March, Knight held two roundtables about preventing school shootings, which brought together representatives from various law enforcement agencies.
“As an 18 year veteran of the LAPD and active member of the Law Enforcement Task Force, I know there are things our officers on the ground know that lawmakers in Washington just can’t understand without being there,” Knight said in a statement about the meetings. “Today’s conversations were very productive and I look forward to using this input as I craft legislation to address this urgent challenge. We can no longer play the political blame-game as these tragedies continue to unfold.”
Knight introduced legislation a couple weeks later intended to increase school safety measures regarding shootings, which would put $50 million of Education Department funds toward things like active shooter training for school faculty and safety technology, among other things, according to a news release from his office.
“First, there needs to be better training for law enforcement and school personnel to respond to an active shooter situation. Second, schools need to determine where their security vulnerabilities are and address those issues. This bill allocates resources for both of these goals and several other related measures,” Knight said in a statement about the legislation.
When asked about the issue, Knight’s campaign responded via email: “Congressman Knight’s career has included 8 years in the US Army and 18 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. Public safety and national security are of great importance to him and his community. Outside special interest money from gun control groups will not change this.”
CNN’s AJ Willingham, Eric Bradner, Terence Burlij and Wade Payson-Denney contributed to this report.