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Thursday, January 10, 2013

We have a new standard bearer for gun control…Gabrielle Giffords

Gabby Giffords is the former Arizona U.S. Representative who was shot by Jared Loughner along with 18 others, 6 of which died, at a public meeting in a Tucson supermarket parking lot in January of 2011.  Giffords has been going through a very slow recuperation process with the help of her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly.  She and Kelly decided to announce a new gun control movement on the second anniversary of the shooting.


Gabby Giffords/Mark Kelly

Their new organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, hopes to launch “a new era in the battle over gun rights in America.”  In a USA op-ed, the two were very clear about their goal: “to counter the influence of the gun lobby.”  I interpret this as saying that Giffords and Kelly will spell out just how bad Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) have been misrepresenting the gun rights issue for years.  It’s time to shove it down their throats.

Giffords and Kelly’s efforts will add further support to organizations like the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.  It was reported that the NRA spent over $24 million in the 2012 election to elect gun rights candidates and defeat gun control candidates.  In comparison, the Brady campaign spent $5,800.  ARS hopes to balance this with financial support that will take the fear out of politicians who have been intimidated by the NRA.

Here’s a quote from Giffords and Kelly:

"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."

This is a clear signal aimed at the gun rights groups, particularly LaPierre’s NRA, that they can no longer hide behind the 2nd Amendment and the absolutist position they claim for guns by the Constitution.  It ain’t valid so quit insulting the gun control advocacy with this ridiculous argument and start negotiating like most rational human beings do.  LaPierre can start by ceasing the threats regularly hurled at Congress if they don’t vote the NRA way.

Wacky Wayne has made it clear that to solve the gun violence problem he wants more guns, not less.  He said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."  Kelly sees this different.  When Giffords was shot, a “good guy” came out of a store next door to the Safeway and almost shot the man who took down Jared Loughner.  In Arizona, gun owners are not required to have any training to own and use firearms.

To illustrate the extremism of the gun rights movement, Councilman Steve Kozachik held a “Cash for Guns” buy-back outside a Tucson police station.  Nearby, Arizona Republican State Sen. Frank Antenori held an unregulated and legal marketplace to buy guns.  Kozachik said, "We have a fundamental hole in the private sales of guns. You can walk up right in front of a cop and buy a gun, no background check, nothing."  Only in Arizona.

Kozachik said that he had been receiving threats by phone and emails trying to shut the gun buy-back down.  Antenori’s concern was that the $50 offered per gun was too small, “it amounted to theft.”  And then Todd Rathner, an Arizona lobbyist and national NRA board member threatened to sue because he thought it was illegal for police to destroy the guns.  Both Antenori and Todd are but two of a gang of Arizona gun nuts that have made the state a national laughing stock.

And now Vice President Joe Biden, placed in charge by the President of getting gun control legislation passed, is saying that Obama is exploring executive privilege to stop the gun violence.  More on this later.  But the Giffords/Kelly movement couldn’t come at a better time and will certainly be welcomed by all gun control advocates.  It’s about time.

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