News & Politics

Gabby Giffords Takes on NRA, Announces Push for Gun Control

Injured congresswoman uses op-ed, Diane Sawyer appearance to take on NRA, fight for a curb on weapons.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords waves to the audience on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in September. Giffords, Thursday, confronted her would-be assassin face-to-face for the first time as he was sentenced to life without par

Almost amonth since the unimaginably tragic shooting in Newtown Connecticut and on the anniversary of the massacre that left her fighting for her own life, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is stepping up with her own lobbying group that will counter the NRA and push for what she bills as common-sense gun control solutions to the epidemic of American gun violence.

With her husband, the astronaut Mark Kelley, Giffords will appear tonight on a prime-time interview with Diane Sawyer and co-wrote a frank op-ed in USA Today that had some harsh words for the gun lobby as representing a fringe position, while positioning the couple as responsible gun owners themselves:

Special interests purporting to represent gun owners but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission. Rather than working to find the balance between our rights and the regulation of a dangerous product, these groups have cast simple protections for our communities as existential threats to individual liberties. Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction.

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As a result, we are more vulnerable to gun violence. Weapons designed for the battlefield have a home in our streets. Criminals and the mentally ill can easily purchase guns by avoiding background checks. Firearm accessories designed for killing at a high rate are legal and widely available. And gun owners are less responsible for the misuse of their weapons than they are for their automobiles.

Forget the boogeyman of big, bad government coming to dispossess you of your firearms. As a Western woman and a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who have exercised our Second Amendment rights, we don't want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home. What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.

We saw from the NRA leadership's defiant and unsympathetic response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre that winning even the most common-sense reforms will require a fight. But whether it has been in campaigns or in Congress, in combat or in space, fighting for what we believe in has always been what we do.

So how will these two, who position themselves as political moderates, take on the NRA? They want to use their position to raise a lot of money, basically, launching a lobbying group calledAmericans for Responsible Solutions. They write "Until now, the gun lobby's political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups. No longer."

They are fighting an uphill battle but they are extremely important advocates to have on the side of gun control.

Sarah Seltzer is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmseltzer and find her work at