Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was nearly killed by a gunman two and a half years ago, is continuing her gun control advocacy with a seven-day, seven-state “Rights and Responsibilities” tour promoting background checks for gun buyers and gun safety for those who already own firearms.
Joined by her husband, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, and relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Giffords has visited seven states from Alaska to Maine, culminating in an appearance in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday.
Giffords, 43, who was a Democratic congresswoman from Tucson, Ariz., says her “Rights and Responsibilities” tour isn’t anti-gun at all. In fact, Giffords and Kelly visited several shooting ranges during the tour, praising responsible gun owners. For Giffords, the problem lies with lax gun laws that allow firearms into the hands of irresponsible owners.
“Stopping gun violence takes courage — the courage to do what’s right, the courage of new ideas,” she said in an Alaska speech, according to the Washington Post. “I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line. Now is the time to come together. Be responsible. Democrats and Republicans, everyone — everyone — we must do something. Fight, fight, fight. Be bold, be courageous. The nation is counting on you.”
Giffords was joined by several parents who lost their children in the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan, praised Giffords’ efforts during a stop in Maine.
“If all of our politicians were like Gabby, or Sen. [Susan] Collins and Sen. [Angus] King [both of Maine], we would not need to be here today. But they’re not, so we are here,” Hockley told Portland’s WMTW.
In April, Giffords pushed for an administration-backed bill requiring expanded background checks for gun buyers. Under the proposed regulations, anyone purchasing a gun -- including at a gun show or online -- would need to undergo criminal and mental health background checks. The Senate ultimately shot the bill down, and Giffords stated in an op-ed for the New York Times that she was “furious” over the nation’s refusal to pass further gun control laws after Sandy Hook.
Giffords' anger over the Senate’s decision led directly to the “Rights and Responsibilities” tour. On the tour, she has championed the bipartisan bill as a strong example of "common-sense" gun reform.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.