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Giffords helps start New Hampshire anti-gun violence group

Capt. Mark Kelly, left, listens as his wife, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, announces the need for the ai???Granite State Coalition for Common Senseai??? to support solutions to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people during a news conference Tuesday Dec. 15, 2015 in Concord, N.H. The coalition wants to close loopholes that allow felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns without undergoing criminal background checks. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Capt. Mark Kelly, left, listens as his wife, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, announces the need for the ai???Granite State Coalition for Common Senseai??? to support solutions to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people during a news conference Tuesday Dec. 15, 2015 in Concord, N.H. The coalition wants to close loopholes that allow felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns without undergoing criminal background checks. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

CONCORD, N.H. ai??i?? Helping to launch a bipartisan coalition in New Hampshire, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Tuesday urged Democrats and Republicans alike to be bold and courageous in preventing gun violence.

Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, was badly wounded in a 2011 shooting that left six people dead and 13 injured in Tucson. She spoke in Concord a day after the third anniversary of the mass shooting of 20 first-grade children and six educators at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School and less than two weeks after a couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage ai??i?? the courage to do what’s right, the courage of new ideas,” she said. “I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line. Now is the time to come together, to be responsible.”

While the Granite State Coalition for Common Sense will be followed by similar groups in other states, Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, said they made New Hampshire first in part because of its prominent role in the presidential nominating process. The state will hold the earliest presidential primary in 2016 and has been flooded with presidential candidates for months.

“It’s important for setting the tone and setting an agenda for more or less what’s going to be discussed,” he said. “We’re very hopeful that gun violence and how we can solve it becomes a platform of both parties. We’re also hopeful that in time, every presidential candidate lays out their position on this issue.”

Kelly, a former astronaut, and Gifford started Americans for Responsible Solutions in 2012 and have traveled the country pushing for legislation to address gun violence. He said he expects Republican candidates participating in Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas to say they oppose gun control without taking a stand on specific proposals, such as closing loopholes that allow felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill to buy guns without undergoing criminal background checks.

“When firearms fall into the hands of dangerous people like domestic abusers and stalkers, our communities are less safe,” said Teri Norelli, former speaker of the New Hampshire House and member of the coalition, which also includes law enforcement, prosecutors and business leaders. “We know that when a woman is in a domestic violence situation and her abuser has access to a gun she is five times more likely to die. … Why on earth would we ever give (abusers) that opportunity?”

A University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll conducted last winter found strong bipartisan support in New Hampshire for preventing the mentally ill from buying guns. A partisan divide emerged, however, when residents were asked if gun control laws in general should be more strict, with 69 percent of Democrats saying laws should be more strict, compared to 24 percent of Republicans.

Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a law allowing people who can legally own guns to carry them concealed without having to get a separate license from their local law enforcement officials, who had discretion over issuing them. But former state Sen. Rick Russman, a Republican, said he believes the will exists to do more to prevent gun violence.

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One comment

  1. Well, I think everyone feels bad for what happened to her, but we don’t need her or her husband to convince us to abolish our Constitutional Rights. The world is a dangerous place, but giving up your liberty for the promise of security leaves you with neither – I believe Ben Franklin said something along those lines.

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