July 3, 2013

Gun control supporters take message to tough place

Former U.S. Rep, Gabrielle Giffords and her husband begin a seven-state tour by talking with Alaskans.

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Background checks on people who want to buy firearms at gun shows would prevent some of the nearly three dozen murders a day in America as well as some of the 10 mass shootings a year, the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Tuesday.

Giffords-Gun Control
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Mark Kelly fires .22-caliber handgun at an Alaska shooting range on Tuesday. He and his wife, former U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords, met privately with 11 Alaska gun owners.

The Associated Press

"We'll prevent some of them if we take some reasonable steps that most Americans agree on," Mark Kelly said.

Giffords, an Arizona Democratic who survived an assassination attempt on Jan. 8, 2011, and Kelly, a former combat pilot and astronaut who flew four space shuttle missions, traveled to the heart of gun-rights country to make a case for expanding background checks.

Proposed legislation also would require criminal background checks for Internet sales.

Giffords and Kelly founded the group Americans for Responsible Solutions after Giffords was wounded. This week, they began a seven-state, "Rights and Responsibilities Tour."

Alaska is seemingly hard ground for the gun control message.

Both of Alaska's U.S. senators, Democrat Mark Begich and Republican Lisa Murkowski, voted in April against extending background checks to gun shows and online sales. Begich said the legislation would have undermined Alaskans' Second Amendment rights.

Kelly disagreed. Walk into any Anchorage gun store, he said, and you'll have to undergo a background check to complete a sale.

"I doubt Sen. Begich would think that's an erosion of his Second Amendment rights. So I'm not sure what that comment means," Kelly said.

"Why would it be an erosion of your Second Amendment rights to do that same, exact thing at a gun show?"

He said polling by his group indicates a majority of Americans, including Alaskans, would like to see background checks extended to the 40 percent of gun sales for which background checks are not required.


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