For some Americans, there is a single, major issue that will always guide who they vote for — abortion, taxes, or foreign policy are just a few that come to mind. But former Rep. Gabby Giffords wants to see more voters make gun control their make-or-break issue. On Monday, Giffords brought her nationwide Vocal Majority Tour to New York City, meeting with public officials and urging voters to elect candidates committed to ending gun violence from the steps of City Hall. Giffords was joined by her husband and partner in advocacy, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, and the city's first lady, Chirlane McCray, among others. "Be bold. Be courageous. The nation counts on you,” Giffords told the dozens of people who had gathered to hear her speak. Giffords herself was the victim of gun violence in 2011. Kelly emphasized that voters had the opportunity to stand with his wife and other survivors to counteract the influence of gun lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association.
Be bold. Be courageous. The nation counts on you.
Gabby Giffords, former congresswoman
"For too long, a small but very vocal minority of Americans driven and controlled by the gun lobby have had outsized influence over our nation’s gun laws,” Kelly said. “That gun lobby, backed by a minority, has protected a dangerous status quo. It’s fought to keep dangerous loopholes in our laws open; it’s peddled misinformation; it’s argued for inaction.” New York was the 21st stop on Giffords and Kelly's six-week, 14-state bus tour. The tour started on September 27 in Orlando, FL, the site of the country’s deadliest mass shooting. Most recently, Giffords visited Newtown, CT, the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. The tour is named to drive home the fact that the majority of people support certain gun control measures.
“We think it’s past time that the vocal majority of Americans are heard from,” Kelly said. “We think it’s time to rack up more victories over this powerful corporate interest, and for responsible change to happen in state houses across the country. And hopefully, eventually, in Washington, D.C. It’s time to elect more candidates who will stand up to the gun lobby. And that’s what this Vocal Majority Tour is all about.”
For too long, a small but very vocal minority of Americans driven and controlled by the gun lobby have had outsized influence over our nation’s gun laws.
Mark Kelly, retired NASA astronaut
Kelly and Giffords are right that certain gun control measures have widespread support among Americans, despite the fact that they have not become laws. According to the Pew Research Center, about 85% of Americans, across party lines, support gun control policies, such as universal background checks, including at gun shows and for online sales. Giffords suffered brain damage after being shot in the head while meeting with constituents in her home state of Arizona. Six people were killed in the shooting. In the years since her injury, she's become an advocate for better gun control policies. In 2013, on the second anniversary of the shooting, she and Kelly launched their political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Their aim is to encourage "common sense protections" against gun violence. Now, though, they want voters to know that change is in their hands. "This November, they should vote on this issue," Kelly said, asking the crowd to share that message with their friends and loved ones. "Vote on reducing gun violence. Say that only a candidate who’s ready to stand up to the gun lobby and support responsible change will get our votes." “Let’s work together to make sure that 2016 is remembered as the year we made our voices heard,” he said. Giffords took to the podium to conclude the press conference with her own powerful call to action. “Stopping gun violence takes courage,” she said. “I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line." "We might never stop fighting," she added. "Fight, fight, fight." Related Video: