Seeking to counter the influence of the pro-gun lobby, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, are launching a campaign to change the nation's gun policies.
The initiative, called Americans for Responsible Solutions, was announced Tuesday on the two-year anniversary of the Tucson mass shooting that killed six people and severely wounded Giffords.
“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 2nd 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,” Giffords and Kelly wrote in an op-ed in USA Today.
“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,” they explained.
The campaign will aim to neutralize the National Rifle Assn.'s cash advantage in promoting gun rights. The NRA, with more than 4 million members and an annual budget of more than $200 million, spent more than $2.2 million on federal lobbying and another $1 million in contributions to candidates in 2012. It also poured in nearly $19 million in outside spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“Until now, the gun lobby’s political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups,” the pair wrote in USA Today. “No longer. With Americans for Responsible Solutions engaging millions of people about ways to reduce gun violence and funding political activity nationwide, legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby.”
On the group's website, Giffords and Kelly lament that Congress made no significant changes to federal gun policy in the two years since the Tucson shooting. They urge Congress to take a more vigorous response to the latest mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 26 were killed at an elementary school last month.
Giffords visited Newtown last week to meet with families of the victims.