Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly Devote Their Lives to Fighting Gun Violence
In 2011, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Though critically injured, she ultimately returned to service with husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly. Following the mass shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, Gabby and Mark announced the formation of Americans for Responsible Solutions. The organization quickly became known as a leader in the growing movement to save lives from gun violence. In 2016, Americans for Responsible Solutions joined forces with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to expand its mission, increase its impact, and launch the organization today known as Giffords. Against fierce opposition, they have helped to pass over 200 new strong gun laws in 45 states and Washington DC.
When our country reeled after 20 kindergartners and first graders were gunned down at Sandy Hook, we knew something had to change. We also knew it wasn’t going to be an easy fight. But we believed that Americans were tired of living in a country where gun violence caused too many lives to be stolen too early. As gun owners, we also believed it was possible to stand up for stronger gun laws to keep us safe. We are focused on supporting leaders–in city halls, at state capitols, in the halls of Congress–with the courage to address our gun violence epidemic.This fight is a marathon, not a sprint, but we draw inspiration from everyone we’ve met: gun owners, veterans, law enforcement officials, parents, doctors, business owners, who have said enough.This year, in the wake of the horror of Parkland, we’ve also seen students turn their outrage into action. They are standing up and speaking out, reminding us all of our country’s great tradition of calling out injustice and making a difference–one march, one speech, one rally, and one vote at a time. Their passion and energy is helping fuel our movement to bring about a country where gun violence is not a daily problem.
2. In light of recent events in Florida, what do you see are the immediate issues that need to be addressed regarding gun control, i.e. background checks, raising the legal age, etc?
There are solutions that Congress can pass today that would save lives. They are the kinds of policies that we have passed in states across the country. In the past five years, we have helped more than 200 gun safety bills become law. From universal background checks to laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers to making sure that individuals in crisis don’t have access to firearms, more lawmakers than ever are responding to the demands from Americans to pass legislation that will keep their communities safe. While more needs to be done in places like Florida, it was heartening to see the state, which had been a playground for NRA-backed policies, approve gun safety laws for the first time in decades.
3. Tell us about the millions you’ve raised since the school shooting and where is the money going?
It’s been encouraging to see so many people reaching out in support of gun safety. The gun lobby is powered by profits but we draw our power from the American people. So many have chipped in even a few dollars because they believe in the movement we are helping to build. The grassroots support we’ve received from all corners of the country will fuel our work to advance live-saving legislation and elect leaders with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and fight for safer gun laws.
4. What are your thoughts on the young school shooting survivors who have taken it upon themselves to lead the fight for political change? On the nation-wide March for Our Lives rally?
These students should be worrying about homework or the upcoming game or what college they will go to. They should not have to suffer through live shooter drills and in the back of their minds wonder if their school will be terrorized by a shooter. Our children should not have to march in the streets to demand action from our leaders to keep them safe. But that’s the America we’re living in today. These students have watched their leaders fail to protect them and decided to do something about it. It’s so inspiring to see them standing up, speaking out, and organizing to remind the country we need to address this problem NOW. Our country is full of stories of individuals who overcame pain and found the courage to make the world a better place. These survivors have captured the attention of our nation and encouraged everyone to agitate and push for leaders who can and will address our gun violence crisis. We will continue to support them for every step and every action they take.
5. What are some of the latest legislative policies Giffords is actively working on now?
Lawmakers have realized they can no longer be silent on this issue and we’ve seen more legislation being introduced that could help reduce gun violence. Since last fall, we’ve helped pass a bill in Oregon that helps protect victims of domestic violence by prohibiting stalkers and abusers from getting a gun. After the country saw the destruction that bump stocks caused in Las Vegas, we’ve worked with states to ban these devices. Another area where we’ve seen a lot of interest is in passing bills that temporarily prevent individuals in crisis from obtaining a firearm. On the federal level, we’ve seen more members from both sides of the aisle introduce legislation that could save lives. We will continue to call on Congressional leadership to allow debate and votes on these proposals. Our organization will continue to stand up to the gun lobby by beating back damaging policies and work with any leader who has the courage to want to make a difference on this issue.
For more information about Giffords, go to giffords.org.
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