I suggested in two recent posts (here and here) that Gabby Giffords' trip to Newtown, following her visit with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, foreshadowed a larger role for the former congresswoman and her husband Mark Kelly to play in the gun safety debate. They have not been silent about gun violence, especially here in Arizona, where Mr. Kelly pointedly criticized the governor and state lawmakers for kowtowing to the NRA.
Gabby and Mark will appear on ABC tonight with Diane Sawyer, the second anniversary of the Jan. 8, 2011 Tucson shooting, to discuss their new initiative, which is called "Americans for Responsible Solutions." Earlier today they sent an email to supporters, describing the new effort. After reviewing the Tucson horror and their trip to Newtown last week, the couple write:
As moderate, gun owners and victims of gun violence, we know there are some common sense things this country can do to reduce gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership. And we're not alone. The vast majority of Americans—including three-quarters of NRA members—support efforts that promote responsible gun ownership. But a gun lobby driven by an extreme ideological fringe has used big money and influence to stop Congress from acting.
Anyone interested in joining the conversation, or helping to spread word about Americans for Responsible Solutions, can sign up at this site.
To launch the initiative, Gabby and Mark wrote an editorial in today's issue of USA Today, "Fighting Gun Violence," which begins with this comment about Congress's actions in the wake of too many mass murders: "Congress has done something quite extraordinary—nothing at all." Then they speaking directly to the NRA, without naming them:
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.They do mention the NRA later in the editorial, calling them out for their "defiant and unsympathetic" response to the Newtown massacre. The NRA's money and political bullying, they say, has not been countered by other well-meaning groups, and that is what they envision Americans for Responsible Solutions to be—a counter-balance to the gun lobby's political friction:
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.It's hard to think of a better couple to help lead that conversation, raise funds to battle the NRA, and work with legislatures and congress. I hope they start here in their home state, where anyone and buy just about anything at our gun shops and gun shows, no questions asked. That certainly seems like one "responsible solution."