By Harry Alexander / SoAzNewsX
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is trying to stay in the spotlight on the issue of firearms. Last week she joined with House and Senate Democrats to accuse Republicans of pandering to the gun lobby with bills to do away with gun-free school zones and deregulate silencers, among other measures.
Giffords isstill struggling with the effects of a 2011 shooting that left her critically wounded. She called on Americans to have to courage to fight against the measures.
“Stopping gun violence takes courage,” said Giffords, at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “Now is the time to come together – Democrats, Republicans, everyone.”
The remarks came a week after President Donald Trump told the audience at a meeting of the National Rifle Association in Atlanta that “you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.”
Advocates at the rally called Trump’s speech “pandering” to gun lobbyists and pointed to the GOP-backed bills – including one relaxing background checks for veterans and another that would require reciprocity between states that allow concealed carry of weapons – as proof. They said those proposals serve gun lobbyists while threatening public safety.
No so, said Charles Heller, Arizona Citizens Defense League Communications Coordinator.
“Pure propaganda,” he said in an email to SoAzNewsX. “Veterans are being denied their rights for nothing more than seeking treatment for PTSD. This does not “relax” anything – it removes infringement.”
Peter Ambler, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, which Giffords founded after a series of high-profile mass shootings, said the reciprocity bill would “undermine the authority of each state to regulate who carries firearms.”
But Heller said that’s not the case.
“No, it undermines the ability of the states to infringe on the rights of its citizens, just like they used to do with black people,” Heller said. “If you liked Jim Crow, you will LOVE state infringement.”
Ambler said other bills that advocates are looking at include those that would legalize silencers and repeal gun-free school zone restrictions. Deregulating silencers under bills called the Hearing Protection Act, Ambler said, would reduce people’s ability to recognize when a shooting occurs and tell police officers about the crime.
“Supressors are legal now,” said Heller. “Clearly, Mr. Ambler is ill informed on the topic for which he is a spokesman. Many of us have them. I use mine for teaching gun safety in the tunnel we use for instruction. In confined places, ear plugs and muffs are not enough.”
Giffords’ astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, a couple of years ago attempted to purchase firearms from a Tucson gun store. He wanted to test the fallacy that firearms could be purchased without any background checks either at a retail outlet or a gun show. He was denied the firearms because he did not have valid state ID for Arizona.
Harry Alexander is the Managing Editor of the Southern Arizona News-Examiner. The Cronkite News Service contributed to this report.
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