Giffords to Congress: ‘The nation is counting on you’

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) had a simple message for Congress Monday as the country grapples with the aftermath of its worst mass shooting and Democrats are amplifying calls for tougher gun laws.
 
“The nation,” she said outside the Capitol, “is counting on you.”
 
Giffords, who was nearly killed after being shot in the head during a 2011 campaign event in Tucson, was in the region Monday to campaign for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam (D).
 
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Those plans took a sharp turn after Sunday’s mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip, which left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 injured. Instead of stumping in Virginia, Giffords and her husband, retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, stormed Capitol Hill to decry congressional inaction on gun reform and urge lawmakers to enact tougher restrictions.
 
“This must stop. … It’s not normal, it’s not inevitable,” Kelly said. “It’s an epidemic that needs to be cured.” 
 
Calling the shooting an act of “domestic terrorism,” Kelly framed the debate as a moral choice. 
 
“We could accept the enormous social, moral and economic cost imposed on this country by accepting gun violence of simply the cost of living in America,” he said. “Or we can choose courage.” 
 
Kelly went after President Trump for opposing tougher gun laws — “We need his plan,” he said — while hammering the National Rifle Association for continuing its push to ease gun restrictions.
 
“Does anyone actually believe that our gun laws are too strong?” Kelly asked. “Give me a break.”
 
Kelly offered a short list of gun reforms he and Giffords want Congress to consider, including proposals to expand background checks, ban high-powered assault rifles he deemed “weapons of war” and empower federal researchers to treat gun violence as a public health issue. 
 
Kelly rejected the notion that it’s too soon after the Las Vegas shooting to consider gun reforms.
 
“If not now, when?” he said.
 
Kelly also went after those lawmakers who are offering their thoughts and prayers for the victims in Las Vegas without seeking legislative solutions for keeping firearms out of the hands of violent people. 
 
“Your thoughts and prayers aren’t going to stop the next shooting,” he said. “Only action and leadership will do that.”