Giffords launches gun-control initiative

Wed, Jan 9, 2013, 00:00

Former US representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded two years ago in an Arizona shooting, is launching a group aimed at curbing gun violence and raising enough money to challenge the well-funded gun lobby.

Ms Giffords, starting the effort called Americans for Responsible Solutions with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, told ABC News that Congress must do more to prevent gun violence.

The two are gun owners, but in the wake of a string of recent mass shootings, they said more must be done to push common-sense efforts to reduce such violence.

“Enough,” Ms Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting constituents in Tucson, Arizona, told ABC television.

The initiative aims to “encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership”, the group said on its website, americansforresponsiblesolutions.org.

Background checks

The group will push for background checks for private gun sales and look at ways to better address mental illness, among other efforts, Mr Kelly said.

Ms Giffords’ group is set to take on the National Rifle Association, which in 2011 spent over 11 times more on lobbying than all gun-control lobbyists combined. Her group has set up a political action committee for donations to “raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby”, it said.

The announcement comes just days after Ms Giffords visited Newtown, Connecticut, and met families of the victims of last month’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which 20 children and six teachers were killed.

Ms Giffords also recently met New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who heads his own mayors’ initiative pushing for what he calls “reasonable” gun controls.

Taskforce

In the wake of the December 14th Connecticut shooting, US president Barack Obama has pledged to take swift action to reduce gun violence and has created a taskforce, which is due to report later this month.

The taskforce, led by US vice-president Joe Biden, is reportedly weighing action beyond reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to include universal background checks and a national gun sales database. – (Reuters)