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Gun control: Can Gabby Giffords win over gun owners by firing off some shots?

Her campaign to bring gun owners under the gun control banner created the jarring image of Gabby Giffords firing a gun at a Las Vegas range, the first time she has done so since being shot more than two years ago.

By Correspondent / July 2, 2013

Former astronaut Mark Kelly fires a .22-caliber handgun left-handed at a shooting range on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska. Kelly is the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt. Giffords, whose right arm is paralyzed, fired a gun left-handed Monday in Nevada and Kelly said he promised her he would try shooting that way Tuesday.

Dan Joling/AP

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Washington

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who was shot more than two years ago by a disturbed young man, this week launched her latest push for expanded background checks for firearms purchases by firing a gun herself.

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Ms. Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, debuted their seven-state, seven-day “Rights and Responsibilities Tour” at a Las Vegas shooting range on Monday before traveling to Alaska on Tuesday.

Is this move a sign of Giffords’ commitment to her mission? Yes, most certainly. It was, after all, the first time she’d fired a weapon since the attack in Tucson. Politically sound tactics or not, she surely had to wrestle with her own feelings about holding a gun again. And she did run the risk of alienating some gun control supporters who might have found the visual too much to take.

It’s an indication, no doubt, too, of the always-charged political sensitivities around the gun control debate. Even Giffords, who faces a long battle to regain movement and speech, must reaffirm her pro-gun status in order to advocate for more gun restrictions.

Certainly the move – or public relations stunt, depending on your view – was provocative enough to draw attention anew to an issue that Congress turned away from earlier this year.

In April, a bipartisan bill that would have imposed tougher background check requirements failed in the Senate, succumbing to a successful campaign by the National Rifle Association and others and stunning those families of the victims of the Newtown and Virginia Tech school shootings who had become activists for the cause.

After the vote, President Obama, who had pushed vigorously for the legislation, chastised the gun lobby for a misleading public campaign at the center of which was a suggestion that the bill’s supporters wanted to take away people’s guns.

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