'Enough': Gabrielle Giffords speaks out against guns two years after Tucson
Gabrielle Giffords and her husband have launched a lobbying group to promote 'common sense' gun control – a sign, some say, that the emotional stories of gun crime victims are resonating.
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"In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary – nothing at all," Giffords and Kelly wrote in USA Today.
"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 added.
After failing for decades to budge Americans' general support for gun rights, gun-control advocates now see a major opening after Newtown, where 20 schoolchildren and six staffers were killed in a blizzard of high-powered rifle fire before the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, took his own life.
Unlike other mass shootings, including the Tucson incident in which Giffords was injured and six others died, the Newtown massacre appeared to have actually changed American opinions on gun rights and gun control. On Dec. 20, a CBS News poll found an 18-point surge in the share of Americans who support more firearms restrictions – a finding supported, though less dramatically, by a Pew Research poll conducted after the Newtown shootings.
That shift invigorated efforts to toughen restrictions on firearms.
For example, a visibly moved President Obama launched his new White House initiative, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to return with recommendations, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California has said she will file a bill on Jan. 22 that, if passed, would reinstate an assault-weapons ban and force American gun owners to register "grandfathered" weapons with federal authorities.
"There are numerous efforts under way with an outside strategy, that is going to help capture this energy so it becomes more uncomfortable for Republicans not to move something,” an aide to a pro-gun-control lawmaker said on Monday, according to MSNBC.com
But while the gun-control movement has momentum and is urging Congress to strike quickly, new groups like the one started by Giffords may struggle to change the bedrock support in America for gun ownership.
Yes, recent shootings "dramatize the problem, and people want a solution immediately," says Professor Goss at Duke.
But she also notes that recent poll numbers sliding toward more support for gun control "reflect this idea that, yeah, it's too easy for guns to get into bad hands, but [polls also show] that this is also a problem on a personal and family and cultural level. People are smart and they realize that, like a plane crash, there's never just one factor."