By Jueseppi B.
Dear fellow American,
Two years ago, a mentally ill young man shot me in the head, killed six of my constituents, and wounded 12 others. Since that terrible day, America has seen 11 more mass shootings – but no response from Congress to prevent gun violence. After the massacre of 20 children and six of their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary though, it’s clear: This time must be different.
Americans for Responsible Solutions will encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them.
Join us today, and tell your elected leaders that Americans are demanding responsible solutions to reduce gun violence.
Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords has become known across the country for her resilience in the face of violence, and for her consensus-building leadership in Congress.
Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range at a Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson on January 8, 2011. Stepping down from Congress in January, 2012, Giffords said, “I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”
Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, founded Americans for Responsible Solutions as a way to encourage elected officials to stand up for both the 2nd amendment and safer communities by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them. Giffords and Kelly will not let leaders across the country forget that Americans are demanding responsible solutions to this critically important issue.
Giffords, who was first a registered republican, considers herself a moderate democrat. She ran in six elections in Southern Arizona and won each of them. A third generation Arizonan, Giffords has long been a gun owner and believes in the constitutional right of all Americans to safe and responsible gun ownership.
For more than ten years, Giffords has dedicated herself to public service. As the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate, she represented her community in the Arizona Legislature from 2000-2005, and then in Congress from 2006-2012. Her success was credited to her reliance on the old-fashioned values of kindness, candor and hard, grueling work.
In Congress, Giffords represented a diverse area that covers 9,000 square miles including a 114-mile border with Mexico. She quickly became a leading champion of border security, energy independence, and the needs of military families and veterans. Consistently ranked as one of the most centrist legislators in Congress, she is a strong supporter of fiscal responsibility, bipartisanship, and government accountability.
She is married to Mark Kelly, a retired Navy Captain and NASA astronaut. Before being assigned to NASA, Kelly flew 39 carrier-based combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. He was also commander of the final mission of Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Giffords was for several years the only U.S. Representative with an active duty military spouse. She was recognized as the Honorary Military Spouse of the Year for 2011 by Military Spouse magazine.
Giffords holds a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. from Scripps College where she was awarded a William Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is a retired astronaut and US Navy Captain with 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft, 375 aircraft carrier landings, 39 combat missions and more than 50 days in space.
As a Naval Aviator, Kelly flew combat missions during the Gulf War. He received initial training on the A-6E Intruder attack aircraft. He was then assigned to Attack Squadron 115 (VA-115) in Atsugi, Japan, and made two deployments to the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, flying 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm.
The winner of many awards, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross, Kelly was selected as an astronaut in 1996. He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, the same space shuttle that he commanded on its final flight in May 2011. He is one of only two individuals who has visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.
Kelly’s identical twin brother, Scott, is also an astronaut who served as commander of both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. They share the distinction of being the only siblings who have traveled in space.
Kelly was thrust into the national spotlight in January 2011 after his wife, US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in an assassination attempt in Arizona.
Kelly, the son of two police officers, is from West Orange, New Jersey. He received a B.S. degree in Marine Engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy graduating with highest honors in 1986. In 1994, he received an M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
Please take a moment to read our op-ed:
Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, January 8, 2013
Our new campaign will launch a national dialogue and raise funds to counter influence of the gun lobby.
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.
I was shot in the head while meeting with constituents two years ago today. Since then, my extensive rehabilitation has brought excitement and gratitude to our family. But time and time again, our joy has been diminished by new, all too familiar images of death on television: the breaking news alert, stunned witnesses blinking away tears over unspeakable carnage, another community in mourning. America has seen an astounding 11 mass shootings since a madman used a semiautomatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to shoot me and kill six others. Gun violence kills more than 30,000 Americans annually.
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.
An ideological fringe
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.
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.
Let’s not be naive
We can’t be naive about what it will take to achieve the most common-sense solutions. We can’t just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next. Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources.
Americans for Responsible Solutions, which we are launching today, will invite people from around the country to join a national conversation about gun violence prevention, will raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby, and will line up squarely behind leaders who will stand up for what’s right.
Until now, the gun lobby’s political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups. 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. Other efforts such as improving mental health care and opposing illegal guns are essential, but as gun owners and survivors of gun violence, we have a unique message for Americans.
We have experienced too much death and hurt to remain idle. Our response to the Newtown massacre must consist of more than regret, sorrow and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve fellow citizens and leaders who have the will to prevent gun violence in the future.
Gabrielle Giffords is the former Democratic U.S. representative from Arizona. Mark Kelly is a former astronaut.
Paid for by Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC; not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
Talking The Talk AND Walking The Walk
My entire adult life I have owned handguns & hunting rifles/shotguns.
Yesterday I turned them all in to law enforcement authorities. The shotguns left to me by my grandfather I donated to a local gun museum, they were valuable.
I took this action because I am against ordinary average American citizens owning handguns and assault weapons, and there is no need for me to have hunting weapons since I stopped hunting years ago.
Besides, having them in my home reminded me of Mr. Wayne LePierre and The NRA, and that disgusted me.
I wish, every handgun and assault weapon owner could experience the death of a loved one, family member or close friend, by a handgun, assault weapon or shotgun (shotguns are the weapon of choice for many suicide victims)….then come talk to me about your 2nd amendment right to own weapons.
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