July 2nd, 2013
08:04 AM ET
8 years ago

Giffords shoots gun during tour to promote background checks

Updated 9:48 a.m. ET, 7/2

Washington (CNN) - Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, are in Alaska Tuesday on the second stop of a week-long, seven state tour across the nation trying to build public support for enhanced background checks for gun purchases.

The stops are specifically aimed at states where Senators voted no in April, such as Sen. Joe Heck (R-Nevada) and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), or those who voted yes, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for the Manchin-Toomey background check provision that would have brought enhanced background checks to guns bought at shows or over the internet.

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The couple is calling it the "Rights and Responsibilities" tour, which is sponsored by the group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, which they formed in January to help reduce gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting in December.

READ MORE: A pop, a flash and a life forever changed: Giffords' comeback and gun debate

On Monday, during their first stop in Las Vegas, Giffords and Kelly, who pride themselves as gun owners and proponents of the Second Amendment, went to a gun range and shot - the first time the former congresswoman had done so since she was gravely wounded in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona in January of 2011. Giffords and Kelly also met with local leaders at the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

"Days before we celebrate our Declaration of Independence and the values that make our nation great, I am taking this week to pay tribute to the Second Amendment – both the rights it bestows and the responsibilities it requires. Some might consider me an unlikely advocate for gun rights because I sustained terrible injuries in a violent shooting. But I'm a patriot, and I believe the right to bear arms is a definitive part of our American heritage," Giffords wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday in USA Today.

"We can't stop every person who is determined to do harm, but common-sense measures can prevent tragedies. Expanding background checks will help create a uniform standard for all gun purchases and prevent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining powerful weapons," she also said in the column.

"I know there will always be some in Congress who remain in the grip of special interests," Giffords wrote.

READ MORE: Who is Gabby Giffords?

While she discussed how a majority of Americans still supports the idea of expanding background checks, the strength of the gun lobby is evident in the defeat of the measure in April and the chances of it being brought back up for a second vote are not clear as the National Rifle Association continues to fight the proposal.

With additional stops in North Dakota, Ohio, New Hampshire, Maine and North Carolina in the coming days Giffords summed up her goal in the op-ed: "we'll celebrate those who vote yes, and we'll notice those who ignored their constituents."

Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords • Gun control • Gun rights • Mark Kelly
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC


    If the new background checks law went into effect.

    270 million firearms already sold would still be able to be sold with no background checks if cash transactions are done.
    Firearms sold after the law went into effect that had their serial numbers removed would still be able to be sold.

    The background check law would only apply to those who choose to follow it. It would not slow down criminals in the least.
    "Enforce the laws that are already on the books." There is currently no federal law prohibiting interstate gun trafficking. Every gun that is in the right wing's "black market" was originally sold at a gun store to a "law abiding citizen", who was subjected to a background check.

    July 2, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Data Driven

    @Fair is Fair,

    I think we've already crossed your implied Rubicon with the Patriot Act and PRISM. Meanwhile, given the hysterical comments I'm reading here, I like the notion of people going through background to obtain deadly weapons. I feel that my pursuit of happiness, liberty, and life is threatened by a gun free-for-all that seems incommensurate with a "well-regulated militia".

    July 2, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. James1754

    This ranks right up there with John Kerry's duck hunting and Obama's skeet shoot. Another politician trying to convince us they are not anti-fireaam while they try and take away our rights.

    July 2, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. Russell

    Mr.Howdydoody shows he has wood for brains (or maybe doody) when he (she) says "Rights don't require responsibility." The US Supreme Court will disagree with this wood-head. They have already ruled you can't yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire just because you have free speech rights. Rights and responsibilities do go together. This is not anarchy we have here. You can't just do anything you want because it's your "right" (whatever the "right du jour" is in doody's mind).

    July 2, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Srinath

    Not sure how much the background verification will help since most of the weapons used in shootings are stolen ones from home or somewhere else.

    July 2, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. Zondar

    Anything to keep GUNS on the front page, right CNN?

    July 2, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Ron L

    Our obsession with guns is UNHEALTHY and because of it we have an extremely violent society. Guns were created for one thing..TO KILL. Most of this killing was for food to consume. Now a small percentage of people use them for sport (target ranges etc.) and self-protection. But the reality is their real purpose is to KILL. There are 300 millions guns in a population of 300 million, with only about 30% of the 300 million actually owning guns. Doesn't it sound a little odd that we have 70% of the population wanting to raise the bar a little before someone can purchase a weapon but the Congress won't do it ?? We need a slightly more restrictive form of background check, and we definitely need to reduce clips sizes to 10 round maximum. Most Americans want it, so it should be the law of the land, after all isn't that what Democracy is all about??

    July 2, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Zondar

    Russell – the tired old "fire in a theater" argument?

    Yelling fire in a theater when there is no fire is essentially the same as pointing a gun at a group of people when there is no threat. It is a dangerous action taken against others that could cause them harm.

    Read that again. It is an ACTION taken against others.

    Until you take some ACTION that is adjudicated to be harmful to others, you have not broken the law and you still retain your Constitutional Rights.

    July 2, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. tom l.

    "The GOP clings to a 1996 voter initiative in California as proof America doesn't want Gay Marriage, but ignores poll after poll with consistent 80% or better approval for gun background checks."

    Dude, you need to at least get your facts straight. Prop 8 passed in 2008. Shall I ask you about your ignorance?

    July 2, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Lisa

    This woman has brains and guts and I love her.

    July 2, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Rudy NYC


    @ Rudy NYC "60% of guns sold in this country are sold without background checks"
    That statement is a blatant lie. As to your other statements of non-sense, it takes a judicial proceeding to lose a constitutional right, not the whim of some political appointee who hates guns and only thinks the government or the rich should own or have access to firearms.
    That statement is an easily verified fact. The right wing has a problem with facts that don't fit their reality. I have no idea what the rest of what you wrote is referring to. It's not a coherent response to anything that I previously posted.

    July 2, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Zondar wrote:

    Yelling fire in a theater when there is no fire is essentially the same as pointing a gun at a group of people when there is no threat. It is a dangerous action taken against others that could cause them harm.

    Read that again. It is an ACTION taken against others. Until you take some ACTION that is adjudicated to be harmful to others, you have not broken the law and you still retain your Constitutional Rights.
    And when you point that gun at a crowd, what are you going to do when someone in that crowd decides to take ACTION and fires back at you because they feared for their life and "stood their ground"?

    July 2, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. Ray

    For the umteenth time, i really don't think it is the background check that bothers most of us. If someone introduced a bill that simply said, "all firearm buy/ sell/ transfer transactions ,EXCEPT THOSE BETWEEN FAMILY MEMBERS,will be subject to the EXISTING background check system" , I think it would pass easily. What frightens most of us is the need for 1000-1200 pages of new stuff that will be imposed upon us.

    July 2, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. Glenn

    I'm for some form of background checks but I'm not confident the US Government has the capability (or ability) to put an effective program in place or manage it in a way that protects existing firearm owners or keeps firearms away from criminals (or mentally ill). We're talking about updating/managing/protecting massive amounts of data, sharing it with all States, law enforcement agencies, etc–something they just haven't shown to date. Just look at the TSA's "No Fly" database. It's still riddled with data accuracy problems/challenges since 2001. It's easy for the government to say do but they have a way of messing things up.

    July 2, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Sean

    I feel bad for her. What happened was a tragedy. However, I am tired of her publicity stunts. Please go away.

    July 2, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. Taco

    "Common Sense" They keep using this word... I do not think it means what they think it means.

    July 2, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. James Johnson

    The genie is out of the bottle. Let gun collectors buy what they want – HOWEVER, I am greatly in favor of an expansion to multiple licensing levels to control the sale and purchase of ammunition and ammunition making supplies. A federal tax on ammunition and ammunition supplies would pay for the entire program. I would also make it a felony if a gun is not A- in the immediate control of its owner, or in the immediate control of an owner authorized borrower who has a license to purchase ammunition for that gun, or B- the gun is stored and locked from ready use with only the owner able to open the lock.

    For what it is worth, I am a gun owner.

    July 2, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Phil in NH

    Most liberal types pose the argument that if 70-80% of Americans want stricter gun laws then we should pass the bill and everyone will feel better about themselves. With that logic in mind if 70-80% of Americans do not want Obama Care then shouldn't we get rid of that using the same train of logic? How about if 70-80% of Americans want immigration reform but with the border secured fist – are we going to pass that? The representatives that voted NO for the gun control bill did so because they listened to their states people and applied some common sense in their decision to vote NO. Giffords and her husband will be visiting the great state of NH on this little tour of theirs to try and make some change. The only thing they will get out of their visit is some good lobster roll and a pint of maple syrup and then they'll be on their merry way. This piece of legislation that they are pushing on us will do nothing at all that they say it will.

    July 2, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. TooMuchControl

    Eric- If you want the the government to control every aspect of your life, move to Russia or China and they'd be happy to take all your rights away. We live in AMERICA and we need to put the Free back in Freedom!

    July 2, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    I agree with the posters who are questioning Gabby's ability to safely handle a loaded gun. She DOES bring attention to those who shouldn't be handling these weapons to begin with due to physical ailments, myself included. My arthritis is such that I doubt I could pull the trigger, let alone hold a gun steady anymore. Kinda shoots the "I need a gun for personal protection" talking point theory as well. The only person getting shot by me would probably be me (or at the very least, my foot). I say this as a woman who has handled guns the majority of my adult life. And also as an advocate for gun safety ... in the home and out of the home.

    July 2, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. sonny chapman

    Hey Reddog, those "facts" don't match the reality of what happened. Too many guntoters have trouble telling the difference from real threats & the paranoia in their minds.

    July 2, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Angus

    sonny chapman
    George Zimmerman is the perfect model that little, scared men shouldn't have big guns to cover up their insecurities.

    He is the perfect example of why everybody needs to carry a weapon. When you are being attacked and your life is being threatened, the police cannot save you. You must be prepared to save yourself.

    His trial is a media driven farce with the State of Florida proving his case for him. We are seeing why charges were not brought in the first place. Political pressure caused Florida to waste many millions on this sham of a trial that should never have happened. The race baiters like Jackson and Sharpton have caused this. It will be good to see Zimmerman walk free at the end of this fiasco.

    July 2, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. steve coffie

    This video shows that her and her husband are idiots in that she uses only one hand to fire the pistol. Proper method is a two handed firing position

    July 2, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. Zondar

    Rudy – Keep up, ok? The point is that you retain your RIGHTS until you do something to lose them. You do not have to justify them, you do not have to convince someone that you really really need them. They are yours. The idea that now we can saddle people with additional restrictions by calling them "responsibility" – IN EXCHANGE FOR A RIGHT – is hogwash.

    The 2nd Amendment carries with it the most extreme pre-emptive restrictions of any of our Constitutional Rights. Do you need a permit to speak to your neighbor in public? A license to write a blog? A background check to upload to Youtube?

    Don't try to impose further restrictions and wrap it in the cloak of "responsibility"...

    July 2, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. Zondar

    And FYI it's not the background check I oppose. It is the registry required to enforce a "universal" background check. Without a registry, a complete list of all guns and gun owners and a full ownership history on every gun, there is no way to enforce a law prohibiting someone from selling a gun without performing a background check.

    If someone can come up with an enforceable method that doesn't end up with a registry, many of us would love to hear it.

    July 2, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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