Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, injured in a mass shooting two years ago, stood quietly with President Obama and Newtown families on Wednesday as the president lambasted senators for failing to pass a bipartisan bill that would strengthen background checks on gun buyers. Hours later, she expressed her own anger.
“Speaking is physically difficult for me,” Giffords wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. “But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe.”
After Giffords was shot on a Tucson street corner two years ago, she and her husband, Mark Kelly, have been gun safety advocates. They co-chair Americans for Responsible Solutions, an anti-gun violence PAC. Giffords herself, as Obama said in his speech, is both “a gun owner and a victim of gun violence.” In her New York Times piece, Giffords derided the argument that gun control is complex or that senators faced a difficult choice. “I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association.”
Giffords wrote that whatever concern the senators may feel about the wrath of the NRA and the gun lobby, “that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets.”
“Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents—who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.”
Now that the Senate has failed to pass the background checks bill, Giffords said she is calling on “every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.”