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Giffords, husband push for gun policy changes, not ban

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 7:54 p.m.
Nick Leo visits a memorial for shooting victims on Tuesday, Jan 8, 2013, in Tucson, Ariz., outside the Safeway supermarket where a gunman opened fire on former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents in 2011, killing six people and leaving 12 others injured. Giffords and her husband launched a political action committee aimed at curbing gun violence on Tuesday as her Arizona hometown paused to mark the second anniversary of the shooting rampage. AP
REUTERS
Former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (L) and her husband Mark Kelly, pose for a picture at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva in this file photo taken July 25, 2012. Giffords, who was severely wounded two years ago in an Arizona shooting, is launching a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions with her husband, according to an ABC News report. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud/Files (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

WASHINGTON - Seeking to counter the influence of the pro-gun lobby, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, are introducing a campaign to change the nation's gun policies.

The initiative, called Americans for Responsible Solutions, was announced Tuesday — the two-year anniversary of the Tucson mass shooting that killed six people and severely wounded Giffords.

“Forget the boogeyman of big, bad government coming to dispossess you of your firearms. As a Western woman and a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who have exercised our 2nd Amendment rights, we don't want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home,” Giffords and Kelly wrote in an op-ed in USA Today.

“What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence,” they said.

The campaign will aim to neutralize the National Rifle Association's cash advantage in promoting gun rights. The NRA, with more than 4 million members and an annual budget of more than $200 million, spent more than $2.2 million on federal lobbying and $1 million more in contributions to candidates in 2012. It poured in nearly $19 million in outside spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Until now, the gun lobby's political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups,” the pair wrote in USA Today. “No longer. With Americans for Responsible Solutions engaging millions of people about ways to reduce gun violence and funding political activity nationwide, legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby.”

On the group's website, Giffords and Kelly lament that Congress made no significant changes to federal gun policy in the two years since the Tucson shooting. They urge Congress to take a more vigorous response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

where 26 were killed at an elementary school last month.

Giffords visited Newtown last week to meet with families of the victims.

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