The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 8, 2013

Giffords, Kelly launch gun control lobbying effort

(Continued)

Giffords' announcement brought back memories from the 1980s when Jim and Sarah Brady formed the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Brady, then-President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, was wounded in the 1981 presidential assassination attempt by a mentally ill gunman.

Brady's organization has been among the most vocal champions of gun control since then, but it remains to be seen whether Giffords' group can better compete against the National Rifle Association and its huge fundraising and political clout.

The NRA spent at least $24 million in the 2012 election cycle, including $16.8 million through its political action committee and $7.5 million through its affiliated Institute for Legislative Action. By comparison, the Brady Campaign spent around $5,800.

And when it comes to direct lobbying of lawmakers, the NRA was also dominant. Through July 1, the NRA spent $4.4 million to lobby Congress, compared with the Brady Campaign's $60,000.

"This country is known for using its determination and ingenuity to solve problems, big and small. Wise policy has conquered disease, protected us from dangerous products and substances, and made transportation safer," the couple wrote.

"But when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we're not even trying — and for the worst of reasons," they said.

As a House member, Giffords was a centrist Democrat who represented much of liberal-leaning Tucson but also more conservative, rural areas. She supported gun rights and said she owned a Glock pistol. In the editorial, the couple said they own two guns that are locked in a safe at their house.

They hope to raise funds for political activity, so "legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby."

The couple was expected to discuss the initiative in an interview airing Tuesday on ABC News.

The network offered a preview of the interview Monday and during "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. Kelly described a meeting with a father of a Connecticut victim in which he "just about lost it" after the parent showed him a picture of his child.

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