Giffords targets Minnesota for gun control push
ST. PAUL — Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is bringing her fight to boost gun control to Minnesota, aiming to expand the state's background checks for gun sales and other measures that have been previously blocked, a spokesman told The Associated Press on Wednesday,
Giffords, who was gravely wounded by a gunman during a public event in 2011, will make several stops in Minnesota with her husband on Thursday as they launch the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense. Spokesman Mark Prentice said their top priorities are expanding background checks to the sale of guns between private owners, online and at gun shows, and improving the state's submissions to the U.S. government's background system.
But the group may confront the same political resistance in Minnesota that stymied previous efforts to boost gun control after the 2012 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that killed 20 children. Rural Democrats and Republicans helped block measures, which would have expanded background checks and banned some assault rifles.
Andrew Rothman and his organization, the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, fought to defeat those proposals in 2013. He said lawmakers' mood likely hasn't changed and that the group's call to expand background checks wouldn't stop criminals from obtaining guns.
"Legislators are getting smarter. Voters are getting smarter. They are less and less persuaded by empty, feel-good measures," he said.
Prentice recognized Minnesota's deep cultural ties to guns but said the congresswoman wouldn't relent.
"It takes a sustained, long-term effort to bring some of this change," he said. "We think that there is a pathway for some common sense change."
The Minnesota-focused group is the third state-based organization, following similar groups recently formed in New Hampshire and Oregon. It dovetails with the couple's national organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, which calls for stricter gun regulations nationwide and lobbied President Barack Obama in his executive action surrounding gun control last month.
The Minnesota group registered two lobbyists in Minnesota earlier this month.
Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, have been at the vocal forefront of the nation's gun debate since Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event near Tucson. Six people were killed and 12 others were injured in the attack.