On Eighth Anniversary Of Shooting, Giffords In D.C. To Support Gun Bill

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords looks on as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it’s time for Congress to require universal background checks on gun purchases, under a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, right. (Photo by Keerthi Vedantam/Cronkite News)

By Andrew Howard

WASHINGTON – Eight years to the day after an attack that killed six and wounded 13, one of those victims, former Tucson Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was back in Washington Tuesday to tell Congress it’s time to act on gun control.

“Now is the time to come together, to be responsible,” said Giffords, her speech still halting from the injury that left her near death. “Democrats, Republicans, everyone, we must never stop fighting.”

She was one of a group of survivors – including students from the 2018 Parkland shooting – on hand to support a House bill that would require universal background checks on all gun purchases.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, how described himself as a lifetime gun owner is lead sponsor of the bill that started with five Democratic and five Republican co-sponsors. He said the vast majority of Americans agree that there need to be stronger use of the current background check system to keep guns out of the hands of people who would carry out attacks like the one in Tucson.

Thompson said it is time to “honor with action” those who have been affected by gun violence.

But a spokesman for the National Rifle Association said that what sponsors are calling “decisive action” to stem gun violence would not work if the measure became law.

“These so-called universal background checks will never be universal because criminals don’t follow the law,” said Lars Daleside, the NRA spokesman, in an email. “Instead of looking for solutions that will deal with the root cause of violent crime and save lives, anti-gun politicians would rather score political points by pushing ineffective legislation that doesn’t stop criminals from committing crimes.”

-Cronkite News audio by Keerthi Vedantam

Tuesday’s event was dominated by the stories of victims like Giffords and freshman Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Georgia, whose teenage son was shot and killed in 2012.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited the attack on Giffords in her introduction to the background-check bill.

“Everyone knows where he or she was when they heard the news” about the attack on Giffords, Pelosi said. “Gun violence shattered lives in Arizona and pierced America’s heart.”

Patricia Maisch was at the Congress on Your Corner event where Giffords was shot, and was able to take an ammunition clip from the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, as he tried to reload. She thinks the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 would greatly benefit states like Arizona.

“Arizona has very, very lax gun laws,” Maisch said. “You can almost drive-through and buy a gun.”

At least two Arizona lawmakers, Democratic Reps. Tom O’Halleran of Sedona and Ruben Gallego of Phoenix, had said Tuesday that they will co-sponsor the bill. Tucson shooting survivor Pam Simon said seeing that support for the bill is gratifying, but she is not optimistic about its chances with Republicans in charge of the Senate and the White House.

“There is hope,” Simon said. “But I don’t think President Trump will sign this legislation.”

-Cronkite News video by Micah Alise Bledsoe

That doesn’t mean it’s not needed, she said. Simon noted that other nations share issues with the U.S. – mental health problems, suicide and more – that can lead to gun violence, but they have fewer shootings because they have less access to firearms.

Despite the legislative challenges, Thompson pointed to Giffords and said “our fight is just starting.”

“She has stood as a powerful voice,” Thompson said. “This is in her honor and the honor of all those who have been affected.”

Maisch said that “a young man that shouldn’t have had guns had easy access and was able to kill six people in front of me and wound 13 others” because of lax gun control laws.

“When people tell me this is too hard a job … trying to get legislation changed, I tell them this is easy. Burying someone you love that was killed by gunfire is hard,” she said.

Giffords, repeating what has become a routine speech for her on the issue, said that it “takes courage” to stop gun violence, “the courage to do what’s right, the courage of new ideas.”

“I’ve seen great courage when my life is on the line,” she said. “Be bold, be courageous, the nation is counting on you.”

-Cronkite News reporters Keerthi Vedantam, Alyssa Klink and Micah Alise Bledsoe contributed to this report.


  1. Well since it was HER RALLY and HER responsibility along with dumpnic the supposed sherrif to arrange, provide security she is still trying to cover her ass. Gun control is just a smoke screen, they want to take guns away FROM legal owners/users while LETTING the ILLEGAL users to continue with their mayhem as you see in the insurance advertisement on TV. Restricting the rights of law abiding citizens is going to do WHAT to those who dont comply with existing laws. Just look at the major kill zones, chicago (most restrictive laws) Wash dc restrictive laws, baltimore md very restrictive laws and the list can go on and on. ENFORCE the current laws on the books concerning crimes with guns, but that would not work to fit the real agenda which is to take the right to own away. Why do you think they want to have a convention to eliminate the 2d AMENDMENT? They also want to limit the rights granted under the 1st in what you can say about politicians in general and democraps in particular.

  2. The only way your can prevent a crazy like the guy responsible for the shooting that injured Giffords is to take away all guns from EVERYON, including law enforcement, because we can never know when some nut will get their hands on someone else`s gun and use to harm others.

  3. The shooter passed a background check. Let that sink in, the shooter PASSED a background check! He wasn’t reported by Dupnik or Pima College to the proper authorities, so that he would have not passed it! No amount of new laws will be effective if Sheriffs and others fail there duty! It’s just like the Air Force in the Texas church shooting! Enough laws are there! Just enforce them!

    • No mention ever that Jerod’s parents were friends with diknik, the parents contacted him concerned about their odd child.

  4. IMHO:
    Of course we need greater enhanced background checks. Because as we all know flies cause garbage and water is always reasonable for drownings, just as pencils cause misspelled words, and hammers are solely responsible for bent nails. So of course naturally blaming guns will solve everything.
    Real blame for the tragic events of that day is endless and abundant, it squarely lays at the feet of his stellar parents who somehow missed those decades of little clues, his incompetent elementary-middle and high school staff, and at the “concerned” Pima community collage staff and its internal police farce who promoted school safety at the expense of exposing the rest of us to a monster, as well as a failed, non-existent and broken public mental health system. All layered safeguards that somehow passed the buck, who trivialized, justified and ignored or generally failed to protect society from what was obviously a problem child who never played well with others to begin with and grew up to become a one man walking crime wave on a murderous killing spree.
    Strangely it’s rather odd that the proponents of furthering federal gun control, ie; the well educated, compassionate and tolerate looney left, who leads the nation in open venomous hostility, endless unchecked anger and outright violence. And while the recent caustically abrasive less then helpful words of Rep. Claudia Tenney caused further partisan outrage as she “mistakenly” pointed out that the majority of gun violence and shootings do have ties to those in the left, to those of leftest thinking and to socialist leaning shooters. One needs to look no further then the chocolate Jesus, former President Obama who publicly proclaimed, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” But of course the transparent former leader of the Democratic party is proudly from the Democratic stranglehold of Chicago where the model of strict gun control limits the weekly loss of life to only a few dozen or two.
    Sadly Giffords is all too willing to be reduced to being little more then a living/breathing prop, just a mindless warm body and little else for the anti gun lobby as she proudly stands on the big X of tape to the side of the podium that reads “place victim here”.
    What happened to Giffords was tragic, but using it as a knee-jerk partisan springboard for further overreach is the real travesty.
    If the looney left actually wanted to solve a real problem they would fund the wall and restore government funding. But instead they’ve resorted to thier tried and true tactics of name calling while creating a false crisis to draw attention away from what really matters.
    Once again the ruling radicals seeking releventcy have the trail wagging the dog.

    The Oracle

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