Local Politics

Giffords meets with gun control supporters in Raleigh

Posted July 7, 2013 7:16 a.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2013 6:19 p.m. EDT

— Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords visited Raleigh Sunday as part of a nationwide "Rights and Responsibilities Tour" to highlight ways they believe tougher laws can reduce gun violence.

She and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, are the co-founders of the gun violence prevention group Americans for Responsible Solutions.

After a trip to a shooting range, they held a round-table discussion at The Pit Authentic Barbecue in downtown Raleigh. Giffords' representative said the 14 participants were hand-picked gun owners.

"Gabby and I are both gun owners. I've served in the military for 25 years," Kelly said. "We are strong supporters of the Second Amendment."

But Second Amendment protections shouldn't stand in the way of common-sense gun controls, he said.

"In six months since Newtown, our national response has been to do nothing," Kelly said. "It's unacceptable."

Sunday's event, which was not open to the public, drew protesters, who said Giffords and Kelly's goal is to create a national gun owner registry and restrict private ownership.

"They own guns, but I don't believe they represent the majority of gun owners," said Rick Foster. "I sympathize with (Giffords), but I believe her efforts are misdirected. She's the victim of someone mentally deranged. Her efforts ought to be focused on helping to improve the mental health system."

Giffords was shot in the head on Jan. 8, 2011, when a mentally ill man opened fire at an outdoor constituent event at a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store. Six people were killed, and 13, including Giffords, were injured.

Pro-gun rights group Grass Roots North Carolina criticized the couple for sitting down only with members of their organization rather than reaching out to gun owners across the political spectrum.

The group, which last week offered 100 rounds of free ammo to the first person to track down where Giffords would be, also questioned why details of the visit were not released until Saturday morning.

"Why are they hiding from the gun owners they claim to represent?" the group said in a statement Friday.

Raleigh was the final stop on Giffords' and Kelly's seven-state tour, which started Monday near Las Vegas area, and included appearances in Alaska, North Dakota, Ohio, New Hampshire and Maine.