Giffords launches new gun-control initiative

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday launched a new effort to promote gun control, on the two-year anniversary of her shooting at a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz.

In an op-ed in USA Today, Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, said their new group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, would “raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby, and will line up squarely behind leaders who will stand up for what's right.”

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“Until now, the gun lobby's political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups. No longer,” they added. “With Americans for Responsible Solutions engaging millions of people about ways to reduce gun violence and funding political activity nationwide, legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby.”

Giffords and Kelly expressed dismay that, even faced with the number of mass shootings over the last two years, Congress had done “nothing at all.”

“America has seen an astounding 11 mass shootings since a madman used a semiautomatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to shoot me and kill six others,” Giffords wrote.

Giffords was shot at close range in 2011 by Jared Lee Loughner while holding an event in Tucson. Six people were killed in the incident and Giffords stepped down from Congress last year to focus on her recovery.

Giffords said in her op-ed that she supported the Second Amendment and sought “common-sense solutions.” 

“As a Western woman and a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who have exercised our Second Amendment rights, we don't want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home,” she wrote. “What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.”

The new push for gun control comes weeks after a tragic mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., sparked renewed debate over the issue. 

In response, President Obama launched a White House working group tasked with recommending proposals to stem the nation’s epidemic of gun violence. Obama has called on lawmakers to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons and legislation blocking the sale of high-capacity magazines. 

But the push for heightened gun control is facing strong opposition from the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby, the National Rifle Association, which argues that more restrictions will do little to prevent future violence.

Giffords and Kelly met with families of victims in Newtown over the weekend, according to reports.

Kelly and Giffords have spoken often about the need for more restrictions to prevent violence, and earlier this month the two met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a prominent gun-control supporter.

"The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve leaders who have the courage to participate in a meaningful discussion about our gun laws,” said Kelly in a statement after the meeting.