Columnists

GABBY GIFFORDS: Aurora and I know what gun background checks are really about

I reject the idea that taking action to reduce gun violence requires us to compromise on our liberties as Americans

Residents of Aurora know as well as I do how quickly a place that feels safe and normal can turn dangerous and deadly when the wrong person has access to a gun.

gunControlfixedTwo years ago, standing in a grocery store parking lot in the shadow of the Santa Catalina Mountains, a mentally ill young man shot me in the head and killed six others, including a little girl. The Tucson killer had been kicked out of community college for psychotic disturbances, been denied entrance to the Army because of drug abuse, and spent months plotting my assassination. He should never have had access to a gun.

A year and a half later, your neighbors and friends excited to see a new movie were subjected to a massacre that left many dead and wounded – and scores of families shattered, as in Tucson.

Nothing we do can bring those people back – I know this well. And it is true that violence in our society and our country is a complicated problem – no one piece of legislation will bring an end to it.  But when I look at the pictures of those lost in Aurora, in Tucson, in Newtown – and at the grieving communities and families they leave behind – I know that we must act now to reduce gun violence.

In the Arizona state legislature and in Congress, I worked to defend the gun rights and traditions that my constituents and families across the American West value, Coloradans just as much as Arizonans. I fought to uphold the Second Amendment and promote responsible gun ownership. I had to leave my job after I was shot, but I won’t let a bullet stop me from using my voice to protect our rights as Americans – the Second Amendment as important as any other. And I reject the idea that taking action to reduce gun violence requires us to compromise on our liberties as Americans.

After I was shot, I focused on my recovery. But as I watched community after community struck by horrific shootings, and saw the special interests hogtie Congress, I grew frustrated. Finally, like so many of you, I said, “enough.” Like most Americans, I’m sick of the infighting in Washington – I want to see our strong, independent voices in Congress come together and solve problems. In Colorado, your state legislators have rolled up their sleeves and made changes to keep you all safer. We should expect nothing less from the Senators and Representatives we send to represent us in Washington.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have joined me and demanded responsible solutions to reduce gun violence and protect gun rights. Together we’re saying “no” to extremists and demanding something over 90 percent of Americans support: background checks to keep guns away from dangerous people.

Background checks protect our rights and they protect our families. I own a gun, and my husband, Mark, a combat veteran and former astronaut, owns guns. My mom, who lives way out in the desert, owns a gun. For us and our neighbors, gun ownership is a part of our everyday lives. We use our guns responsibly and we know from experience how easy background checks are.

It’s the people who don’t get a background check we should worry about. Right now, criminals and the mentally ill have access, no questions asked, to the 6.6 million guns sold every year without a background check. Why? Because we have a loophole in our laws that requires a background check if you buy at the gun store, but not if you buy at the gun show or on the internet.

Proposed background checks legislation creates a tool, not an obstacle, for gun owners to responsibly exercise their rights. As the owner of a firearm, I don’t want to transfer my gun to someone who would use it irresponsibly. But now, without a background check, it’s hard to tell if someone I want to sell my weapon to is dangerous or not. The last thing I want is to transfer a gun to someone who will do harm with it.

Background checks legislation will fix that. It will make it easier for you and me to exercise our Second Amendment rights. It’s a simple, fair, and fast system– but provides peace of mind to gun owners and to the communities they care about. And it’s not going to result in anyone registering or taking our guns away.

I know what it’s like to endure unimaginable tragedy.  It is unacceptable to me not to do everything that I can to prevent other communities from going through what my community and your community in Aurora have been through. That’s why I’m asking Congress to pass comprehensive background checks. Please join me and have your voice be heard, too. Together, we can protect our proud tradition of gun ownership and independence, and keep our families safe, too.

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords now heads Americans for Responsible Solutions, a national effort to promote legislation focusing on the reduction of gun violence.

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  • http://twitter.com/SamanthaRichar8 Samantha Richard

    Thank you. You have millions of supporters. You help us keep the faith that there’s more Americans with common sense than there are that have none. Please keep speaking up and saying what you’re saying. We need more loud voices keeping the debate about the facts and honesty, not about smoke screens, inciting fear, and feeding greed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

      Common sense, is Realizing that Bad People Will “ALWAYS ” be able to get guns, so taking guns out of the hands of Law Abiding Americans, and this IS what the Left wants to do, will do nothing but make the Vulnerable even MORE in Danger.

      • SusanBeehler

        Nancy Lanza was law abiding, look what her guns did. Do nothing is NOTHING!

        • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

          So are you pushing for a National Database on people with Mental Health and Drug use issues…if not you are a Hypocrite, as these are the people who do ALL the mass shootings.

    • Christina Leah

      There is no such thing as common sense. If sense were common, there would be no debate. There’s only your opinion. You can choose not to own a gun. The moment you take away my choice, your opinion becomes oppression.

      • SusanBeehler

        NO ONE is taking away your guns, you just will not be able to buy one at a “rummage” sale with no background check. Read the legislation http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

        • http://www.facebook.com/daviddylanharris David Harris

          I’m convinced anyone who opposes background checks is too willfully stupid to read anything.

  • Amendment7

    Better yet. Let us sue. Remember that long-forgotten Seventh Amendment? It’s the one that gun makers and their lobbyists destroyed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

      Sue who…? Gun makers because someone used their product to hurt someone…? If your that dense, then why not start with the Auto companies every time someone is killed by a drunk driver or plain old accident…?

      • http://www.facebook.com/ernest.keller.9 Ernest Keller

        Right on!

      • SusanBeehler

        Car manufacturers are sued for faulty cars and many are sued for accidents.

        • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

          They are NOT Sued for the Misuse of the car they built, come on get a grip with reality.

    • Christina Leah

      Objects are not responsible for murder or cruelty in the world. The fact that you don’t know this is the real problem. Also, that you don’t understand who is truly destroying our rights just adds to the problem.

      • SusanBeehler

        It is a people problem this is why we need laws and regulations. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

        • Jason

          Take your anti-freedom laws elsewhere. If you stand against the 2nd amendment, you stand against the very thing that protects this great nation and all her freedoms. You stand against America.

          • SusanBeehler

            It is not standing against the 2nd Amendment if you want laws, the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited I stand for all Americas and for the ability of our country to make laws to keep all Americans safe.

  • Gerald

    People WITH guns kill people. We have the right NOT to be killed by gun-wielding people. NRA figure this out.

    • Jason

      Your 100% correct, but by staying unarmed, you fail to defend that right. Monsters exist and will always exist. To think otherwise is foolish. Defend yourself and fight to protect your right to life. You know background checks will not stop monsters, so you are your last line of defense.

      • SKDE

        Owning a gun actually makes it more likely that you or a member of your household will be killed by one. A gun does not actually protect you.

        • xve298

          really who are your worst enemies strangers or people you don’t suspect?

          • SusanBeehler

            Most murders are committed by people you know.

        • Christina Leah

          Based on what facts? Where do you get these statistics?

        • http://www.facebook.com/jamesw.garrisonjr James W Garrison Jr

          Not in my house i have stopped 2 burglars and one theif stealing gasoline from my car with a gun no one has gotten shot so far . Stupid line of thought based on scewed data

          • SusanBeehler

            Yes anyone should be executed if they take your gas! NOT! http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

          • Jason

            Way to pipe in on a situation you know nothing about. Susan take your anti American rhetoric elsewhere.

          • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

            NO ONE WAS Executed…Geeez, try to read the comment and understand it…

        • Jason

          Actually these are very skewed facts where even the researchers admit it is not accurate. The studies are flawed because they don’t take into account the number of times guns are not fired in self defense but merely drawn. Guns are used in self defense in this manner over 2.5 million times per year.

          The researcher Dr. Arthur Keller refused to release his data he used to come to the conclusion. It invalidates his study.

      • SusanBeehler

        We need to take all kinds of steps to defend against “monsters” This law will help http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

    • http://www.facebook.com/jamesw.garrisonjr James W Garrison Jr

      yes thats true so pay for a armed guard to protect you 24-7 there you go . police are only 10 minutes away or grow a pair train and learn how to defend yourself with or without a gun,instead of taking other peoples rights away lock the loons and crooks up and do not let them out for a long long time . Thats how you solve gun violence . not by making everyone a felon .

      • SusanBeehler

        You really are paranoid, if you think you are not safe 24/7. More than one way to defend yourself if a gun isn’t strapped on you!

    • Christina Leah

      You have the right to choose. No where are feelings protected in the Constitution. No where is there a right to safety. In this fleeting moment, you still have the right to protect yourself. If you’re looking for someone else to keep you safe, you’re in for a rude awakening. Your safety is entirely your responsibility. The police have no obligation to protect you, no matter what the logo says on the side of the police cruiser. Check out Warren v District of Columbia. Are there many officers that would chose protect you if they had the chance? Sure, but this is not a mandate. The police don’t prevent crime, they respond to it. What do you do in time between the crime being perpetrated against you and when/if help arrives? During that time, don’t you want the best available tools to defend yourself and loved ones? If you answer honestly, you’ll want to be able to defend yourself and you don’t want the government to interfere with your choice of firearm or how many rounds you can use in a magazine. If you don’t want to be armed, make that a personal choice for yourself and reap the consequences for your decisions. Don’t impose your prejudice or values on the rest of us.

    • xve298

      But you have that choice. No one is saying that they want to attack you. as it is more people are beaten to death than killed with rifles. I am sure you do not want to be beaten either. People will kill other people and so will wolves mountain lions, bears,poisonous snakes,falls in the bathtub or down the stairs. Risk is with us always.

  • Lauren

    Excellent piece. Thank you for speaking out loud and clear! Americans are demanding change NOW. There is no rational counter-argument against universal background checks. When 92% of Americans agree on something, it’s time for obstructionists in Congress to get out of the way.

    • Christina Leah

      Not so loud, clear or well thought. Something no one that supports this is discussing is when do you start feeling safer if this legislation is passed? The day it becomes law? A month after? A year? 10 years?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jamesw.garrisonjr James W Garrison Jr

      yep that 92% was from a poll of which 83% of those polled were demacrats .

    • http://twitter.com/MaryBro77801894 Mary Brown

      Dept of Justice has said background checks are useless without registration. Registration has lead to confiscation in every country that has it. Look at history to see what will happen once the populace is disarmed. Look at Great Britain with 300% higher violent crime than the USA.

      • SusanBeehler

        THEY are not USEless we already do them, now let’s do them for the rest of the sales http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

        • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

          How many people have been arrested and put in prison for lying on the 4473 form, when they did a background check while trying to buy a gun….? Out of 100′s of thousands…less than 100 people have been put away.
          SORRY…when the current laws ARE Enforced fully, we can talk about more laws which “Infringe” on law abiding Citizens Rights, till then…forget it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

      Sorry, the USA is NOT a Democracy, aka Mob rule. Those “Obstructionists in Congress” as you Ignorantly call them, are our ELECTED Representatives we put there to safeguard our Rights in the Constitution.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=42303148 Aida G. Neary

    Thank you. We are with you and will not stop until common-sense laws are passed. We won’t be able to save everyone, but we will not stand by and not try to save anyone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fcicraig Craig Pickel

      The problem is who makes the decision. Current background checks for jobs does not stop a pedophile from getting in schools, churches, coaching, etc…. but it stopped us from getting a job because we filed for bankruptcy. Is that also going to keep me from getting a gun, Do you know? What do you know. England, where there are no guns, except for criminals and that country has one of the worlds highest murder and assault ratings. Its funny how everyone has forgot about the Oklahoma bombing or 911. Would background checks have stopped them? Stop wasting our countries courts and government time to infringe on the rights of good citizens.

  • Michael

    Here is the part you should care about. The background check law they are trying to pass right now isn’t just for sales. It is for all transfers. This includes loaning of a firearm. Like this one time my dad let us borrow a few firearms when myself, my sister, and our friends went shooting. This would have made us all felons. Maybe not me and my sister since we are related, but definitely our father, and our friends. We all owned our own guns, but wanted to shoot something new.All us would have committed a felony under this law. 5 years each in prison.
    If gay couple, or a straight couple who are not married have firearms in the house but one of them travels for work, by leaving their firearms in the home and allowing their partner access to them, they commit a felony. A gay couple where either partner travels alone can never own firearms. This bill would effectively ban them from protecting themselves.
    Even if you are for universal background checks, the law as written is terrible. It will do little more than create a new base of felons. Felons made out of good people who don’t know the intricacies of the law.

  • Jason

    It saddens me that you Gabby Giffords have become a victim twice. First to that monster and 2nd as a pawn to the anti-American gun control advocates. Please don’t lie to us, you are not pro 2nd amendment, how could you be with the restrictions you call for. The right to bear arms is my right given to me by my creator. The constitution merely clarifies that right.

    Your solutions are irresponsible. They would not have prevented Newtown, they would not have prevented the Aurora Theater Massacre and you simply can’t dispute that. What they do prevent is law abiding citizens from exercising their rights. You can sugar coat it all you want, but its the truth.

    I hold on to my guns because all governments become tyrannical. Our government has become tyrannical, if you don’t believe so, I think you should read the NDAA and the patriot act. We have to be groped to travel, we can be detained indefinitely, our lands can be seized without just compensation or cause, we can no longer protest near secret service protected politicians, and we no longer have the right to peaceably assemble unless we have a permit.

    You want to give the very same government who has become corrupt the ability to decide who gets to own a gun and who doesn’t. That’s like letting the fox guard the hen house.

    Gabby, i think your heart is in the right place, which sadly makes you a great pawn. The true backers of these gun control measures have no respect for our Constitution, our country and of histories lessons of tyranny against those unable to defend themselves.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JenniferLBlevins Jennifer Blevins

      Please educate me on where you are finding the right to bear arms given to you by your creator?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jamesw.garrisonjr James W Garrison Jr

      AMEN

    • SusanBeehler

      Nothing anti-American about being well regulated. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

      • Jason

        How about you quit spouting your little link and read what well regulated means. It has nothing to do with regulations. If you took time to actually educate yourself, you might have figured that out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

      Well said…!

  • http://twitter.com/jasonmpage Jason Page

    Thanks for the heartfelt Note Gabby, we are with you.

    • xve298

      Nope people ho do not know what the law really entails are headed for prison. read the law then have it explained to you by a lawyer. The devils in the details.

    • Christina Leah

      We are not with you. Keep your politics limited to the state in which you reside.

      • SusanBeehler

        There are many with her and support her, Keep your gun out out of my 1st ammendment

        • Jason

          My gun protects your first amendment.

  • SKDE

    Thank you!

  • xve298

    What a liar. A mad man will always get a weapon or make explosives. It is us who do not want to be victims that suffer.

    • SusanBeehler

      You are a liar.Not all mad men are that mad some are lazy, so if you put obstacles in front of them, they may give up or just oft themselves

      • xve298

        Wrong the mad are highly motivated. Whether insane or just outraged they will not stop. Everything is wrong about over regulation. But by the time people realize what they have allowed to happen then it take time to repeal the stupidly. It should never happen in the first place. We need less regulation of our private lives. Governments are too invasive as it is.

  • alline

    So it would be like the CDC saying, “No need to get a flu shot, we’re just building a lot more hospitals. That’s the logic of the NRA.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ernest.keller.9 Ernest Keller

      At least they are using logic and not reacting to pure emotion. When emotions rules the land and people like Obama, Feinstein, and Reid get t-elected and people like Gabby get exploited.

      • alline

        So you are saying that there is nothing emotional about a gun.

        Could have fooled me. See there you going getting all emotional over your gun rights. Honest gun owners have nothing to worry about. You people just don’t get it. You might be an “honest gun owner”, but you sure don’t have much of a light bulb on. Ignorance is the biggest problem in this conversation.

        • Christina Leah

          Actually this isn’t about our emotion about guns. It’s about your emotion about guns and how we have to deal with that.
          You say “we have to do something”. If that’s not emotional, i don’t know what is. The 100+ million other gun owners didn’t hurt anyone yesterday or today. How many defensive gun uses saved lives today? Now THAT’S something to get emotional about.

          • alline

            “we have to do something” is not coming from me. Like I said, ignorance, that’s the problem. And I don’t know, how many defensive gun uses saved lives today? You think, maybe more than offensive gun uses to kill innocent lives? So it’s all okay in the long run. Bet you might think differently if you found yourself at the wrong end of the gun butt.

        • xve298

          Sorry but we do. The anti-gun bunch wants no guns. or no effective guns so they can say they did something even when it has been proven to be a failure.

          • SusanBeehler

            Wrong I support the 2nd Amendment and so do the Giffords, we do not want the “mass murders”, and other “bad” people to get guns so easily. Especially from straw purchasers so this is why we need a crack down on traffickers!http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

          • xve298

            I do not believe you weapons are the right to obtain them in a timely manner with out hassle. The hidden goal is to make people afraid of guns Gabby’s husband went and did a “straw purchase which is fine except he does not approve of it. How do you tell if someone is a “mass murderer? Do they wear a sign saying that they are?
            No they don’t. Guns should be easy to get as any other consumer item. It is the fact that people generally are not given the training early enough. Obama wants to allow only old and obsolete guns. And then will find a way to ban them. Junk for the American citizen.

          • SusanBeehler

            What is a timely manner? People already have to wait for Concealed weapon permits. The goal is to have them more difficult for people who should not have them to get them. Every state has laws for who cannot get a concealed weapons permit. New regulations are no different. People who have been determined to be mentally unstable, people who have felonies and in the case of CCW people who have drug or alchol problems are all good places to start, also domestic violent offenders. It is not about stopping all crime but at least preventing some of the carnage. Obama is not the one the writing the legislation, the Congress is. Read it http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

          • xve298

            What does concealed weapon permits have to do with buying a gun? The truth is it is not preventable. Congress is about the party in power. Politics is about power.

          • SusanBeehler

            It is a gun regulation

        • SusanBeehler

          Some people love their guns more than people

  • http://www.facebook.com/allison.powers2 Allison Powers

    The proposed laws would not have stopped any of those shooting incidents. And, I went to a gun show. There are background checks going on for rifle sales and you had to have a permit to buy a handgun. .

  • http://www.facebook.com/marian.kamlin Marian Kay Kamlin

    I totally agree that addressing violence done with guns will require complex solutions, not one simple action. The background checks are so important because they can make it easier for responsible gun owners to transfer their guns when it comes time to do that. This HAS to be an important aspect of the complex solutions we need.

    • Christina Leah

      Safer how? Exactly who do you think you’ll be protected from with these laws? When do you think you’ll be safer? The day when this legislation becomes law? A month after? A year? 10 years? If you honestly examine what this law will do, you’ll understand that it in no way makes anyone safer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ernest.keller.9 Ernest Keller

    Once again — People kill other people. Guns are just one of the tools. Perhaps we should also take away knives, baseball bats, cars, etc. No one should be able to own more than one knife or a knife longer that 1/2″. Oops, those could also kill someone. Don’t mess with our Second Amendment rights!

    • SusanBeehler

      NO one is taking away your guns! Read the bill http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c1136NNWJ4:e12290:

      • http://www.facebook.com/charles.f.easter.3 Charles F. Easter

        So you are saying…”NO ONE” wants to take away our guns, is that correct???

        • SusanBeehler

          maybe your neighbor or JOE Blow down the street does, but the government is not looking to take your guns unless you are a felon, mentally ill or someone who is not legally allowed to have guns.

  • Christina Leah

    Hey Aurora Sentinel, you don’t need to give a voice to someone who doesn’t live here on matters that have nothing to do with her. If she’s concerned with issues then let it be in the state where she suffered. She adds nothing to our debate and is being sadly paraded around by the dems and other interests outside of our state. Let her handle issues in her own state. She is not welcome here.

    • SusanBeehler

      It is a national debate not just a debate in Colorado or Arizona, it is the United States of America

  • fishunter

    I feel for Mrs. Giffords, she has endured an unending conquest both from her personal injuries and from friends and fans. If there is an answer to gun violence, we would all be in favor of it.
    It seems that the proposed and recently adopted “gun violence laws” are not thought-out nor will they be effective at stopping a mad man from committing atrocities. I have contacted Governor Hickenlooper’s office and our Senators and Representatives offices volunteering my time and efforts as a long time Colorado native and disabled Viet Nam veteran. None have replied, other than a pre-made thank you for contacting me e-mail. It appears that they do not want nor need help from the common citizen. Folks, we are looking at a plan, probably from the Obama/Biden/Feinstein/Bloomberg/Soros clan and this plan has been gestating for some time. Now, with the Arizona, Aurora, Sandy Hook atrocities, they have an excuse to put this plan into action, regardless of the Constitution or rights of the citizens of the USA.
    Another thought is that of the ammunition shortage. I believe that the Government and deep pockets supporters have their fingers firmly around the ammunition supply. What use is a gun without bullets?

    • SusanBeehler

      Did you know the 2nd Amendment was placed in the Constitution specificly for gun control. Yes Patrick Henry wanted the assurance southern states could have a “well regulated” militia so slave patrols could go in and confiscate guns from slaves. So the 2nd amendment was all about “gun control”. In more recent years is when the courts have broaden the meaning to self-defense, but it was not orginally what the 2nd Amendment was all about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dr.DianeKatz Diane Katz

    I stand with Gabby and Mark

  • http://twitter.com/MaryBro77801894 Mary Brown

    we aren’t enforcing the background check laws we have now so create more laws? The incredible stupidity of this boggle me.

    2011 had 76,000 failed background checks, 44 prosecutions, 13 convictions. What is wrong with you people? 13,000 of those rejected checks were wanted criminals with warrants for arrest but no investigations are done and criminals run free to go buy guns on the streets or steal one from a homeowner.

    The DOJ report has said background checks won’t work without registration, registration is the path to confiscation and even greater tyranny than we have now.

    How about disarming the DHS who has ordered 2+billion rounds of hollow point ammo, 3,000 MRAPS(armed personnel carriers with gun turrets), 7,000 full automatic AR-15′s. The people need the ability to fight back against something like that and removing that ability is treason.

    • xve298

      There is no reason to prosecute a failed background test because it did whatit was supposed to. The real problems mistakes on innocent people and identity theft. Hackers have invaded personal information getting a forged Id is easy for professional criminals.

    • SusanBeehler

      Did you say that to your children took, if you didn’t enforce a rule, just give up and let bad things happen? Even if they weren’t prosecuted they still worked and that is the point keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. YOU want to fight Homeland Security? How did that work out for Bin Laden? Get a gripe and come out of your make believe NAH NAH land

  • dltripp

    I am with you, Gabby and Mark. Giving again today to Americans for Responsible Solutions.

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