Giffords and Kelly Launch Their Own Anti-Gun Lobby

By Susan Jones | January 8, 2013 | 6:32 AM EST

Former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly leave the sentencing of Jared Loughner on Nov. 8, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo)

( - Call it the anti-NRA: Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband Mark Kelly -- on the second anniversary of the mass shooting that left Giffords grievously injured -- are launching a gun-control group called "Americans for Responsible Solutions."

They say it will try to counter the influence of the gun lobby.

The group, they said in a Jan. 8 op-ed published in USA 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."

Giffords and Kelly said Americans for Responsible Solutions will fund political activity nationwide, making it unnecessary for lawmakers to "fear the gun lobby." According to its website, 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 who elect them.

In their op-ed, Giffords and Kelly criticize Congress for doing "nothing at all" in response to "a horrific series of shootings," including the one on Jan. 8, 2011 that left Giffords near death.

Giffords and Kelly say the National Rifle Association has made the nation more vulnerable to gun violence:

"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."

They call the NRA's response to the Newtown shootings defiant and unsympathetic; they say criminals and mentally ill people can "easily purchase guns by avoiding background checks."They say guns designed for the battlefield "are legal and widely available." And they say gun owners "are less responsible for the misuse of their weapons than they are for their automobiles."

But Giffords and Kelly insist they are not advocating a gun grab:

"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."

Although Giffords and Kelly do not specify what specific "reforms" their group will advocate, they do say that any successful gun control effort will require the ability to match the NRA's influence and resources.

"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."