Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, launched a gun control initiative on Tuesday (Jan. 8), the two year anniversary of the Tucson shooting that killed six and left Giffords and 12 others wounded.
The couple's newly unveiled political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, aims to spark a dialogue about preventing gun violence and balance the influence of special interest groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"We can't be naive about what it will take to achieve the most common-sense solutions," Giffords and Kelly wrote in an op-ed in USA Today (opens in new tab). "We can't just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next. Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources."
The launch comes on the heels of a horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead at the hands of a 20-year-old gunman last month. Giffords and Kelly recently visited the town and met with family members of the victims.
The former congresswoman was shot in the head while meeting with constituents outside of a Tucson supermarket on Jan. 8, 2011. The convicted gunman responsible for the carnage, Jared Loughner, age 24, has been sentenced to life in prision. Giffords, who was a member of several congressional committees on science and space, stepped down from politics last year to focus on her health and rehabilitation.
Kelly is a veteran of four space shuttle flights. He commanded two, including NASA's last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour in May 2011, before retiring from NASA's astronaut corps. Kelly's identical twin brother Scott Kelly is also a NASA astronaut and veteran of two shuttle flights and an International Space Station mission.