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Gun control battle heats up

Late Update, 2:10pm: Vice President Biden will meet this week with the NRA, The Hill reports.
(Photo illustration by Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Late Update, 2:10pm: Vice President Biden will meet this week with the NRA, The Hill reports.

With the Obama administration set to finalize legislation by the end of the month, the battle over gun control is reaching a new intensity, as both sides gear up for the fight.

In the last 24 hours, Gabrielle Giffords has announced a new gun control group, and a coalition of mayors released an ad featuring the mother of Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the same 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz. that Giffords survived. Meanwhile, gun rights supporters are jumping into action, and pushing ahead with plans for a mass demonstration just before Inauguration Day.

Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman, wrote in USA Today Tuesday that she and her husband Mark Kelly have launched Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action committee that plans to “raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby.”

Giffords, herself a gun owner, has emerged in recent weeks as a key face of the push for stricter gun laws. She traveled to Newtown, Conn. last week to meet with families of the victims of last month’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, and has also huddled with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun-control initiative co-founded by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s group has also seized the initiative. In the TV ad it released Monday, Roxanna Green, Christina-Taylor Green's mother, asks lawmakers: “When will you find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby? Whose child has to die next?"

Watch the ad:

Meanwhile, Bloomberg took to msnbc’s Morning Joe Tuesday to argue that NRA isn’t as all-powerful as it’s often painted. "The NRA was notoriously unsuccessful in this last election term. They set one major priority and that was to defeat Barack Obama,” the New York City mayor said. “Shows you the power of the NRA."

Also on Morning Joe, Stanley McChrystal, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, called for “serious action” to curb gun violence, including banning assault weapons. “I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets.”

But gun-rights supporters are hardly sitting idle. A coalition of gun groups is asking members to show up at guns stores, shows, and ranges on the Friday before Inauguration weekend for Gun Appreciation Day, a nationwide protest against efforts to pass tighter gun laws. The idea is modeled on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, which turned the anti-gay fast-food chain into a cause célèbre among conservatives.

One former NRA board member told TPM that a recent Washington Post report that Vice President Joe Biden’s taskforce is mulling broad gun control legislation had the effect of a “Molotov cocktail” among gun rights activists. Biden has “galvanized the gun community,” the former board member said.