ARIZONA – Former US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a famous survivor of gun violence, launched a major initiative on Tuesday to challenge the nation’s powerful gun lobby and press for tougher gun laws.
Giffords, shot in the head in January 2011 while meeting constituents in her native Arizona, unveiled “Americans for Responsible Solutions” after a visit to Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children died in a December 14 mass shooting.
“We can’t just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next,” Giffords said, in an op-ed article in the USA Today newspaper co-signed by her astronaut husband Mark Kelly.
“Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources,” she said, referring to the influential National Rifle Association.
Americans for Responsible Solutions, she added, will “raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby” and support political leaders who support tougher limits on the private ownership of guns.
President Barack Obama has promised swift new measures to address gun violence in the United States in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which six school staff members also died.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, also killed his mother, who owned the Bushmaster military-style rifle he used to cut down the six- and seven-year-olds before taking his own life in one of the worst mass shootings in US history.
The NRA, with a highly motivated membership and legendary lobbying clout on Capitol Hill, is proposing to pot armed guards in American schools as a means to deter future shootings.
Guns are involved in more than 30,000 deaths in the United States, the majority of them suicides, and handguns –rather than rifles or shotguns– figure in most homicides.