Giffords Is A Gun Owner; Gun Control Group Calls for ‘Civility’ in Political Discourse

By Susan Jones | January 9, 2011 | 9:12 AM EST

( – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and critically wounded outside a Tucson supermarket on Saturday, described herself as a Second Amendment supporter, although the National Rifle Association does not rate her highly.

In a June 26, 2008 message on her congressional Web site, Giffords wrote:  

As a gun owner, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.  In February, I was proud to sign the Amicus Brief in District of Columbia v. Heller asking the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court ruling that overturned the long standing DC gun ban. 

This is a common sense decision that reaffirms the Constitutional right -- and Arizona tradition -- of owning firearms.  I commend the Court for ruling in favor of restoring our right to bear arms."

After the mass shooting in Arizona, the National Rifle Association posted a brief statement on its Web site, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this senseless tragedy, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and their families during this difficult time. We join the rest of the country in praying for the quick recovery of those injured.”

The NRA gave Giffords a C rating in the 2010 election cycle. The grade applies to candidates with a mixed record or positions on gun-related issues.

‘Heated political rhetoric’

The shooting of Giffords and 18 other people in Tucson is a “U.S. tragedy we need to urgently address,” said one of the nation’s leading gun control groups.

In a message on the Brady Campaign Web site, President Paul Helmke writes, “Too many public officials have been killed and injured in this country in my lifetime - nearly all of them by guns.”

But Helmke also expressed deep concern about “the heated political rhetoric that escalates debates and controversies, and sometimes makes it seem as if violence is an acceptable response to honest disagreements.”

He criticized the head of the National Rifle Association for saying “the guys with the guns make the rules.”

Helmke also complained that some people at congressional forums and presidential events have “started carrying guns in public.” And without mentioning her by name, Helmke referred to Nevada Republican Sharron Angle’s comment during her U.S. Senate campaign against Harry Reid that “"if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies."

Helmke also criticized Sarah Palin for using gun “target” metaphors to encourage voters to defeat Rep. Giffords and others.

“We, as Americans, can and should do more to restore civility to our political discourse,” Helmke said. He closed with a call to “do more to address the easy access to high-powered guns that make it too easy for dangerous and irresponsible people to disrupt and destroy the lives of innocent Americans, and political leaders who are simply trying to serve their communities and our country.”