Shot congresswoman joins gun control fight

THE former US congresswoman who was shot in the head two years ago has launched a national effort against gun violence, saying she and her husband will work to counter the country’s  gun lobby.

Gabrielle Giffords’ effort comes as the Obama administration faces a self-imposed deadline at the end of this month to propose ways to curb the mass shootings and other violence that continue to grip the country.

The administration this week is calling gun owner groups, including the National Rifle Association, victims’ organisations and representatives from the video game industry to the White House for discussions.

The sense of urgency comes after a young man with a high-powered rifle, legally purchased by his mother, shot 20 young children and six adults to death at a school in Connecticut last month.

President Barack Obama, who had been quiet on gun violence during his first term, called the shooting the worst moment of his presidency and has demanded ‘‘real action, right now’’.

But Congress is caught up in deep debate over fiscal issues, and one top Republican has warned that action on gun violence will be pushed back as a result.

Ms Giffords, who has owned a Glock pistol, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, are becoming  prominent voices for gun control efforts, especially after the Connecticut attack.

They wrote in an opinion piece published in the USA Today newspaper that their Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action committee, would help raise money to support greater gun control efforts.

‘‘Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources,’’ they wrote.

The NRA, the country’s most powerful gun lobby, said after the Connecticut shooting that the solution would be putting an armed security officer in every school.

The couple pointed out that they support the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

‘‘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,’’ they wrote.

‘‘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.’’

Mr Kelly and Ms Giffords criticised politicians’ inaction, saying ‘‘in response to a horrific series of shootings . . . Congress has done something quite extraordinary – nothing at all’’.


This story Shot congresswoman joins gun control fight first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.