Former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (file photo)
A former US congresswoman and survivor of gun violence has launched a major initiative to challenge the country’s powerful gun lobby and call for tougher gun laws.
Gabrielle Giffords unveiled "Americans for Responsible Solutions" after a visit to Newtown, Connecticut where twenty children and six adults were killed in a shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
"We can't just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next," Giffords said in an op-ed article in the USA Today
"Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources," she added, referring to the US National Rifle Association (NRA).
Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting constituents in her native Arizona in January 2011, said the ‘Americans for Responsible Solutions’ will "raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby" and support those who support tougher limits on private gun ownership laws.
“Until now, the gun lobby’s political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups,” Giffords said. “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.”
The US has experienced several mass killings over the past six months including the August killing spree at a Sikh temple, which left seven dead.
After the Sandy Hook massacre, a Gallup poll reported that the majority of the Americans would like stricter gun laws and a ban on high-capacity firearms.
More than 100,000 Americans have signed an online petition to the White House, dubbed “We the People,” asking the administration of President Barack Obama for a renewed national debate on gun control.
The NRA, however, proposed to send armed guards in American schools as a means to deter future shootings.
Guns are involved in more than 30,000 deaths in the United States, the majority of them suicides, and handguns -- rather than rifles or shotguns -- figure in most homicides.