Giffords launches anti-gun campaign
The former US congresswoman who was shot in the head two years ago has launched a national effort against gun violence, saying she will work to counter the country's strong gun lobby.
Gabrielle Giffords' effort comes as the Obama administration faces a self-imposed deadline at the end of this month to propose ways to curb the mass shootings and other violence that continue to grip the country. The administration this week is calling gun owner groups, victims' organizations and representatives from the video game industry to the White House for discussions.
The sense of urgency comes after the massacre of 20 children and six adults to death at a school in Connecticut last month. President Barack Obama, who had been quiet on gun violence during his first term, called the shooting the worst moment of his presidency and has demanded "real action, right now."
But Congress is caught up in deep debate over fiscal issues, and one top Republican has warned that action on gun violence will be pushed back as result.
Ms Giffords, who has owned a Glock pistol, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, are becoming a prominent voice for gun control efforts, especially the Connecticut attack. They wrote in an opinion piece published in USA Today that their Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action committee, would help raise money to support greater gun control efforts.
"Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources," they wrote. The National Rifle Association, the country's most powerful gun lobby, said after the Connecticut shooting that the solution would be putting an armed security officer in every school.
In the opinion piece, Ms Giffords criticised inaction, saying that "in response to a horrific series of shootings ... Congress has done something quite extraordinary - nothing at all."
They hope that "legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby."
Mr Obama has ordered an administration-wide task force on gun violence to send him proposals by the end of January. Vice president Joe Biden leads the group and will meet gun violence victims' groups and gun safety organizations, gun ownership groups and advocates for sportsmen, and other representatives from the entertainment and video game industries.
The Connecticut shooting led some pro-gun lawmakers to express a willingness to consider new measures. But less than a month later, gun control already has slipped behind economic issues. The president and Congress was consumed at year's end by efforts to avert the combination of spending cuts and tax hikes known as the "fiscal cliff."