TUCSON, AZ (CNN) — Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly have launched what they hope will mark a new era in the battle over gun rights in America.
On the second anniversary of a mass shooting in Arizona that wounded Giffords and killed six others, the couple launched a political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, along with a website calling for contributions to help “encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.”
In an op-ed in USA Today, the two make their goal clear: to counter the influence of the gun lobby.
“Special interests purporting to represent gun owners but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission,” they write.
Gabby Giffords rouses convention “Rather than working to find the balance between our rights and the regulation of a dangerous product, these groups have cast simple protections for our communities as existential threats to individual liberties. Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction.”
Emphasizing that they support the Second Amendment and own two guns themselves, Giffords and Kelly call for “laws to 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. 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.”
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly”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 writes.
“This country is known for using its determination and ingenuity to solve problems, big and small … But when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we’re not even trying — and for the worst of reasons.”
Giffords and Kelly have spoken out in the wake of last month’s slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 27 people murdered, 26 of them at Sandy Hook Elementary School — including 20 children.
Giffords wrote on Facebook at the time, “As we mourn, we must sound a call for our leaders to stand up and do what is right. This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence. 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 — and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America. This can no longer wait.”
Giffords and Kelly visited Newtown last week. They met with local and state leaders to discuss gun control legislation, mental health identification and treatment, and “concerns for the erosion of our societal values such that we are increasingly desensitized to violence,” according to Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra.