Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, husband Mark Kelly launch gun control lobbying effort
"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. But when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we're not even trying — and for the worst of reasons."
They hope to start a national conversation about gun violence and raise funds for political activity, so "legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby."
As a House member, Giffords was a centrist Democrat who represented much of liberal-leaning Tucson but also more conservative, rural areas. She voiced support for gun rights and said she owned a Glock pistol. In the editorial, the couple mentioned they own two guns that are locked in a safe at their house.
At the gun events in Tucson, Kozachik said that as the shooting fades from the public's mind, issues like controlling the sale of large-capacity magazines and keeping guns from the mentally ill need attention.
"This gave us the opportunity to keep the conversation going on a very sensitive day in this community," he said after the event.
Frank Antenori organized his own event, offering cash for guns and noting that a $50 gift certificate is way too low of a price for valuable weapons.
Antenori and Kozachik accused each other of acting out of political motivations. Antenori said the councilman was sullying both the Tucson and Connecticut school shooting victims by the timing of the buyback. Kozachik said the outgoing legislator was just trying to keep his name in the news and remain relevant.
Antenori didn't stick around, while Kozachik stayed until the event ended at noon.
He said the cash-for-guns scheme in the police department parking lot only served to bolster his argument that firearms laws need to be enhanced. At his event, police documented each gun turned in, took down names of those dropping them off and checked to be sure they were legal before loading the weapons into a truck for destruction.
Just a few hundred feet away, men holding signs reading "Cash for Guns" bought rifles and handguns with no paperwork, no questions asked.
"We have a fundamental hole in the private sales of guns. You can walk up right in front of a cop and buy a gun, no background check, nothing," Kozachik said. "How much more flawed can the system be?"
Those buying the guns refused to comment, citing fear of retaliation.
Tom Ditsch, who stood watching both events, said neither accomplished anything.
"Every gun that came in was an old gun, no assault weapons," he said with disgust. "They didn't even take any weapons off the streets that they wanted to."
Tucson residents held events over the weekend to mark the anniversary of the Saturday morning when Loughner opened fire with a pistol with a 30-round magazine that he emptied in just 40 seconds. He pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences plus 140 years.
Daniel Hernandez, a former Giffords intern who at the time of the shooting helped save her life by trying to stop her bleeding until an ambulance arrived, criticized lawmakers for not doing enough since the attack. "There's no excuse for standing back and saying we're not going to do anything this time," he said.
"It's been far too long and there have been far too many deaths," he added.
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