In a fiery New York Times op-ed titled, "A Senate in the Gun Lobby's Grip," former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords lambasted senators who rejected universal background checks and other related gun measures. In addition to hitting back at lawmakers, Giffords, who was one of the victims in the Tucson, Ariz., shooting in 2011, dismissed the role of the gun lobby in the political process.
"Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets," she wrote. "The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them."
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., center, listens as President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, about a bill to expand background checks on guns that was defeated in the Senate. At right are Neil Heslin, father of Newtown victim Jesse Lewis, and Vice President Joe Biden. Credit: AP
The former Democratic representative charged that senators "gave into fear" and inevitably dismissed what she believes was "common-sense legislation" that would have helped prevent guns from getting into the hands of the mentally-ill and criminals. Giffords also wrote that the bill would have prevented tragedies like what has been observed of late in Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn., to name just two recent mass shootings.
Showing little patience for senators who decided not to back Democratic leadership, Giffords said that the vote should have been an easy one for every official. But, instead, she said that special interests like the NRA won due to their powerful influence:
Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.
I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.
Shooting victim and former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (C) is escorted by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (L) and her husband, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly (R), while walking to a policy luncheon for Senate Democrats April 16, 2013 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Giffords met earlier with Sen. Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) on pending gun control legislation before the U.S. Senate. Credit: Getty Images
"I'm furious," she continued, pledging not to rest until the senators' wrong-headed legislative moves are corrected. Giffords appealed to "every reasonable American" to join her in a quest to progress greater gun control measures.
"I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money," she continued. "I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences."
Giffords concluded her op-ed by noting that Congress will hear her message -- and the messages of those who disagree with her -- clearly. Her fight against current gun laws, based on the article, is far from over.
Read the op-ed in its entirety here.