Sunday, May 19, 2013
By Latin Times Staff Writer, Jan 08, 2013 04:22 PM EST
(PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters) Former U.S. Representative Giffords leaves the Newtown Municipal Building in Newtown.
A divided and emotionally raw populace stews in debate and existential questioning in the wake of the 15th mass shooting by a lone gunman in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. President Barack Obama has already come out calling for stricter gun control laws. Now Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has said "Enough," as well, and has announced her own initiative for curbing gun violence.
Gifford and her husband Mark Kelly sat down with Diane Sawyer following the couple's trip to Newtown to discuss her "Americans for Responsible Solutions" plan.
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"After the shooting in Tucson, there was talk about addressing some of these issues, [and] again after [a movie theater massacre in] Aurora," Colo., Kelly said. "I'm hopeful that this time is different, and I think it is. Twenty first-graders' being murdered in their classrooms is a very personal thing for everybody."
Kelly and Giffords said they met with numerous families affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy during their trip to Newtown.
"[The] first couple that we spoke to, the dad took out his cell phone and showed us a picture of his daughter and I just about lost it, just by looking at the picture," Kelly said. "It was just very tough and it brought back a lot of memories about what that was like for us some two years ago."
"Gabby often told them, 'You got to have strength. You got to fight for something,'" Kelly said.
Giffords gave the interview on the anniversary of the mass shooting by lone gunman Jared Loughner in Tucson two years ago that left her gravely wounded by gunfire. Kelly said seeing the faces of the children who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook shooting reminded the couple of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim to die in the Tucson shooting.
"I think we all need to try to do something about [gun violence]," Kelly said. "It's obvious to everybody we have a problem. And problems can be solved."
Both Giffords and Kelly are gun owners who support 2nd Amendment rights, but had critical words for the National Rifle Association following the group's claim that the only thing that could have prevented the gun violence in Newtown as a "good guy with a gun."
The day Loughner opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd in Tucson shooting 18 people, six fatally, there was a good guy with a gun present, Kelly Said.
"[A man came out] of the store next door and nearly shot the man who took down Jared Loughner," Kelly said. "The one who eventually wrestled [Loughner] to the ground was almost killed himself by a good guy with a gun, so I don't really buy that argument."
The couple's new gun initiative instead proposes "common sense" changes.
First, the couple believes a comprehensive background check should be required for private sales of firearms.
"I bought a gun at Walmart recently and I went through a background check. It's not a difficult thing to do," Kelly said. "Why can't we just do that and make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns?"
The couple also thinks the government should take a hard look at outlawing high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.
A veteran of Desert Storm, Kelly said he doesn't believe extended magazines are necessary for sport.
"An extended magazine is used to kill people," he said, "lots of people."
As ABC noted, Loughner used a 33-round magazine in Tucson; accused Aurora shooter James Holmes had a 100-round magazine; and Newtown school shooter Adam Lanza used numerous 30-round magazines for his mother's Bushmaster AR-15.
Lastly, the couple wants the country to address how the mentally ill are treated in the U.S.
"We have to learn how to identify these people and get them treatment. And we don't do a very good job at that," Kelly said.