Report: Giffords to testify before Senate Judiciary on guns

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) will testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, setting up a dramatic morning of testimony on the hot-button issue.

Giffords, whose husband, Mark Kelly, is also scheduled to testify before the panel, was shot in January 2011 as part of an assassination attempt that killed six and wounded 13 others. Her attendance at the hearing was first reported by The Washington Post.

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Giffords and Kelly announced earlier this month that they were forming a political action committee with the intention of fighting groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) in political spending. In an op-ed introducing the organization in USA Today, Giffords and Kelly said that while they are gun owners and support the Second Amendment, they believe laws should "require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence."

"Until now, the gun lobby's political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups. No longer," the pair wrote. "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."

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre is also scheduled to testify on Wednesday, and prepared remarks released early by the group indicate LaPierre will tell lawmakers that his group plans to oppose any new gun controls.

“Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals,” LaPierre’s prepared remarks read. “Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.” 

The Senate hearing was called in response to the mass shooting last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 schoolchildren and six employees dead. Since then, President Obama has called for a package of new gun controls that includes universal background checks, a ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and funding for additional research into gun violence.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) had told fellow Democrats he hoped to see legislation emerge from the committee hearings.

"I really salute Sen. Leahy for bringing together both sides to express their positions on these important issues," Durbin said. "After that's done, after the hearing, we have to roll up our sleeves on the committee and go to work."