By Geneva Sands - 01/16/13 01:09 PM EST
"She and Commander Kelly, I think, will be making visits to members of the Congress and will be trying to — in a one-on-one relationship or meeting — lay out their case," Barber said in an interview with ABC and Yahoo News's "Topline" posted Wednesday.
"I think the level of the massacre — you have to call it that — the fact that these were defenseless 6-year-olds, they were trying to be protected by their teachers, that has really caught the imagination, the heart and the conscience of America and that is why I believe it is possible to get something done now that we couldn't do before," Barber said.
On Wednesday, President Obama will unveil proposals to reduce gun violence, including a call for an assault-weapon ban and limits on high-capacity ammunition. The package is expected to include both legislative measures and executive actions.
But many Democrats are cautioning that new gun restrictions will face a tough path in the House, especially with lawmakers' attention likely focused on upcoming budget battles.
Barber, though, said there were many steps toward curbing gun violence that could quickly muster bipartisan support, including improving mental health services, strengthening background checks and limiting the amount of ammunition that is allowed in magazines.
"I'm introducing a bill today called the Mental Health First Aid Act, which is a step in the right direction. It's not a cure-all, but it will help train first responders, teachers, parents and others to know what they're seeing when they see evidence or symptoms of mental illness," he said.
Barber said the use of "extended or high-capacity magazines" is a "very personal" issue.
"[T]he guy that shot us, the shooter had a Glock. That Glock had a 30-round magazine and one in the chamber and he shot 31 bullets in less than 45 seconds. Nineteen people went down; six died; I was shot twice; the congresswoman was shot; I saw two people die at my side. That kind of firepower, I think we have to do something about," he said.
Giffords and Barber were both shot at a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011. Her injuries and prolonged recovery forced her to step down from office. Barber, who was her district director, won a special election to succeed Giffords, and then a full term last November. Since the shooting, both have been vocal proponents of new gun-control measures.
Last week Giffords launched a new gun-control initiative on the two-year anniversary of her shooting to help provide funding for like-minded candidates for office.