Giffords, Kelly launch gun control lobbying effort
BY BOB CHRISTIE & BRIAN SKOLOFF Associated Press
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
1/09/13 at 4:53 AM
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence on Tuesday as her Arizona hometown paused to mark the second anniversary of a deadly shooting rampage that left her with severe injuries.
Tucson residents rang bells at 10:11 a.m. - the moment a gunman opened fire on Giffords as she met with constituents in 2011, killing six people and injuring 12 others. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild rang a bell at a fire station 19 times - one for each victim.
Tucson held events over the weekend to mark the anniversary of the Saturday morning when Jared Loughner opened fire with a pistol with a 30-round magazine that he emptied in just 40 seconds. He pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences plus 140 years.
Meanwhile Tuesday, two Tucson politicians on opposite ends of the gun debate held dueling weapons buy-backs outside a police station. Such events have been held around the country since the shooting at a Connecticut school that revived the gun control debate.
City Councilman Steve Kozachik asked people to turn in their guns for a $50 gift certificate from Safeway - the grocery store chain that owned the supermarket that was the site of the shooting. He wants to get guns out of people's homes and bring pressure on politicians to change gun laws.
About 200 firearms, many of them old, some inoperable, were turned in during the event, Tucson police said. They were set to be destroyed later in the day. Kozachik said he handed out about $10,000 worth of gift certificates.
In response to the event, Frank Antenori, a Republican outgoing state senator organized a gathering outside the same station where about a dozen people offered cash for guns. Antenori and Kozachik accused each other of acting out of political motivations.
Giffords also took a prominent role in the gun debate. She and husband Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, wrote in an op-ed published in USA Today that their Americans for Responsible Solutions initiative would help raise money to support greater gun control efforts.
The couple last week visited Newtown, Conn., where a gunman opened fire in an elementary school, killing 20 children and six adults in December. They also met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who has spent some of his fortune in recent years on gun control efforts.
Kelly and Giffords discussed what they deem lawmakers' inaction on curbing gun violence.
They hope to fuel a national conversation about gun violence and to raise funds for political activity, so "legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby."
As a House member, Giffords was a centrist Democrat who represented much of liberal-leaning Tucson but also more conservative, rural areas. She voiced support for gun rights and said she owned a Glock pistol.
Original Print Headline: Gun-violence curb sought
Washington: White House tries to keep momentum
The White House is fighting to keep the momentum for new gun legislation amid signs it's losing ground in Congress to other pressing issues.
Vice President Joe Biden has invited the National Rifle Association and other gun-owner groups for talks at the White House on Thursday. On Wednesday, the vice president will meet with victims' organizations and representatives from the video game and entertainment industries.
President Barack Obama wants Biden to report back to him by the end of January. Obama has vowed to move swiftly on a legislative package.
But the tough fight facing the White House and gun-control backers is growing clearer. Gun-rights advocates, including the NRA, are digging in against tighter legislation. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate's top Republican, has warned it could be spring before any legislation is considered.
- From The Associated Press
Guns are piled inside a crate outside a police station in Tucson, Ariz., on Tuesday during Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik's gun buy-back program. Kozachik asked people to turn in their guns for a $50 gift certificate to a grocery store. BRIAN SKOLOFF/Associated Press
Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, seen in Tucson in November, on Tuesday announced an initiative to raise money for gun control. Associated Press file