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Giffords to testify Tuesday in Olympia for gun control measure

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will appear Tuesday in Olympia with husband, Mark Kelly.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will appear Tuesday in Olympia with husband, Mark Kelly.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The Seattle Times is reporting today that former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords will be in Olympia Tuesday afternoon to testify in support of Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure pushing so-called “universal background checks.”

The story was also reported by KTAR in Arizona. Giffords will be accompanied by husband Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut. Giffords was seriously wounded in January 2011 at a shooting in Tucson in which six other people were killed and a dozen more were hit when gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire. Loughner, who had a history of mental problems, passed a background check when he purchased the pistol he used in the attack.

Also on tomorrow’s hearing schedule will be a discussion of Initiative 591, the one-page measure that mandates all background checks done in Washington comply with a uniform national standard. The appearance by Giffords is an indication that backers of I-594, the well-financed Seattle-based Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, is pulling out all the stops to push their proposal.

The hearing is expected to draw overflow crowds on both sides of the gun control debate. The session begins at 1:30 p.m. in House Hearing Room A of the John L. O'Brien Building. People who cannot attend can e-mail their lawmaker, and here is how to find that senator or representative.

The Giffords announcement came within hours of this morning’s e-mail alert from Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) that revealed their agenda for 2014 that is long on wishful thinking, short on specific strategies.

Called the State of the Gun Violence Prevention Movement in 2014, the document was circulated by MAIG Director Mark Glaze. They plan to expand their “grassroots movement” in all 50 states, put pressure on federal, state and local “policy makers” to press their anti-gun agenda, and “investigate and uncover how dangerous people get guns – so we can prevent it and save lives.”

Ironically, this comes 48 hours after the Columbia Mall shooting, which demonstrated – as this column pointed out – the failure of gun control on three critical levels. Less than a year after Maryland adopted some of the toughest anti-gun measures in the nation as a response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, which didn’t even happen in that state, 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar took a 12-gauge shotgun into the mall and proved every one of the new laws had failed, despite outgoing Democrat Gov. Martin J. O’Malley’s insistence that “In fact, not only is Maryland stronger than before, Maryland is cleaner, smarter, safer, healthier, more entrepreneurial and more competitive than she was before the recession hit.”

This legislation, incidentally, was touted at the time by Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders To Prevent GunViolence, who said, “There is no infringement on Second Amendment rights with this law. All it does is save lives.”

The shotgun Aguilar reportedly used was not on the list of guns banned by legislation O’Malley signed last year. The teen had a clean record so when he bought the gun legally in December from a retail outlet, he passed a background check. The Mall is a gun-free zone, and even if it weren’t, it is so difficult for average citizens to get a carry permit in Maryland that the issue of fighting back is irrelevant.

Authorities are still trying to find a motive for the Saturday shooting that left Zumiez store employees Tyler Johnson and Brianna Benlolo, a single mother, dead. Aguilar had no criminal past, the Seattle reported.

This weekend was the third high-profile shooting in the past five months in which the perpetrator used a common pump-action shotgun to commit a crime in a gun-free zone, after clearing a background check. In Maryland and in Colorado in mid-December, the shootings underscored the false promises of gun control measures that were passed in both states earlier in the year, activists argue.


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