On the two-year anniversary of the day she was shot in the head while meeting with constituents, former Rep. Gabby Giffords announced the formation of a group to curb gun violence and signaled the group would take on the well-funded National Rifle Association.
In a USA Today op-ed, Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, wrote that they were launching the group, “Americans for Responsible Solutions,” on Tuesday. It comes two years to the day after Giffords was critically injured in the Tuscon, Ariz. shooting that killed six people. It also comes after a string of mass shootings in the past year, the latest of which left 20 children and seven others dead in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Giffords and Kelly wrote that they built the group to promote “responsible changes in our laws” to curb gun violence that would counteract a “defiant and unsympathetic” response from the NRA. At the same time, they realised that it would take a well-funded effort to encourage lawmakers to even propose changes — the NRA spent about 11 times more on lobbying than all other gun-control-related lobbyists combined.
An excerpt from their op-ed:
We can’t be naive about what it will take to achieve the most common-sense solutions. We can’t just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next. Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources.
Americans for Responsible Solutions, which we are launching today, will invite people from around the country to join a national conversation about gun violence prevention, will raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby, and will line up squarely behind leaders who will stand up for what’s right.
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. Other efforts such as improving mental health care and opposing illegal guns are essential, but as gun owners and survivors of gun violence, we have a unique message for Americans.
We have experienced too much death and hurt to remain idle. Our response to the Newtown massacre must consist of more than regret, sorrow and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve fellow citizens and leaders who have the will to prevent gun violence in the future.
Giffords visited Newtown last week and also met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg before announcing the launch of the group.
The White House is reportedly considering a far-reaching effort aimed at reducing gun violence including a variety of measures that go beyond a reinstatement of the 1994 assault weapons ban. But that plan is already receiving pushback from even Democratic members of Congress.