The debate over the nation's gun laws has escalated since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that left 26 children dead. Now, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords – who was shot in the head in Arizona – is launching a new effort to curb gun violence. But many Americans remain passionate about the Second Amendment. NBC's Ron Mott reports.
A national initiative aimed at curbing gun violence was launched by former US. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, on Tuesday -- the second anniversary of the shooting that killed six people and left her critically injured.
A new campaign website, Americans For Responsible Solutions, promised to “launch a national dialogue and raise funds to counter influence of the gun lobby.”
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 gun control advocate.
“In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary - nothing at all,” the pair wrote in an editorial published Tuesday on their site and in USA Today.
"Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources," they wrote in the column.
"This country is known for using its determination and ingenuity to solve problems, big and small. Wise policy has conquered disease, protected us from dangerous products and substances, and made transportation safer. But when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we're not even trying -- and for the worst of reasons."
In an interview with ABC News, the couple said the visit to Newtown brought back a lot of memories of their own ordeal two years ago.
“And you hope that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. But you know what? It does happen again,” Kelly said.
Officials marked the two-year anniversary of Giffords’s brush with death in Tucson on Tuesday. The city rang bells at 10:11 am local time, when Jared Loughner went on the shooting spree that killed 6 people and left 13 more injured, including the congresswoman.
Former Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez, who applied First Aid to his downed boss in 2011, told NBC affiliate KVOA of Tucson that he is sick of gun violence. “There’s no excuse for standing back and saying we’re not going to do anything this time,” Hernandez said. “It’s been far too long, there have been far too many deaths.”
Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said that she remains open to new state restrictions on guns, according to the Associated Press. Brewer has vetoed two gun bills in recent years that would have expanded the right to carry firearms in public.
“It will be something that I’m sure will be addressed in the Legislature and my ears are all open, and I’m certainly anxious if there is a solution that we get it done,” Brewer said.
Kelly and Giffords said they are both gun owners and strongly support the Second Amendment, but they acknowledge the need to prevent guns from ending up in the “wrong hands.”
The couple hope to work with politicians to take gun lobbyists head-on and engage the country in a discussion about preventing gun violence.
They also hope to establish a requirement for a comprehensive background check for the private sale of guns, and address the issue of the treatment of mentally ill people in the United States. Another issue they hope to tackle is that of high-capacity magazines.
"An extended magazine is used to kill people," Kelly, a veteran of Desert Stom, told ABC, "lots of people."
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