President Barack Obama met with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, two prominent gun control advocates, at an unannounced meeting on Friday, the White House said.
The meeting with the Giffords, who in 2011 was shot in the head during a mass shooting in Tuscon, comes as Obama is considering taking executive action to tighten restrictions on gun ownership. The issue of gun control has taken a foremost role in the national conversation as numerous mass shootings have occurred in recent years, prompting Obama to address tragedies time and again during his presidency — all while a Republican-controlled Congress continually rejects passing comprehensive gun control laws.
But White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday declined to specify what was being considered or when the administration would announce its plan.
Obama, Giffords and Kelly, as well as senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, discussed potential actions that could be taken to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, according to the White House.
The meeting came a day after the gun control advocates slammed Senate Republicans for blocking two bills, one of which would stop suspected terrorists from legally buying guns and expand background checks to gun shows and online firearms sales. The other measure would prevent convicted felons and the mentally ill from having access to weapons.
“Once again, some United States Senators ignored the will of the American people, stood with the gun lobby, and voted to protect the loopholes that make it too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns,” Giffords and Kelly said in a joint statement released Thursday. “The American people deserve leaders who will protect their safety and represent their interests, not the interests of the gun lobby.”
Giffords resigned from Congress in January 2012, after a mentally ill man shot her in the head outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents. Five people were killed and several others injured in the January 2011 rampage. Since then, she has been advocating for comprehensive gun control measures on the local and federal levels.
Giffords and her husband, who is a retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut, co-founded the political action committee Americans for Responsible Solutions. They have been pushing for tougher gun laws following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012, when 28 people were killed. Twenty of them were children.
At the time of her resignation, Giffords said told Congress “I will recover and will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona and for all Americans.”