WASHINGTON, January 30 (RIA Novosti) Speaking slowly and deliberately, two years after she was shot in the head and critically wounded in a mass shooting in Arizona, former US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords surprised lawmakers Wednesday when she testified during a Senate panel’s hearing on gun violence in America.
“Too many children are dying … we must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now, you must act. Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you,” Giffords told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday during its first hearing since last month’s shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school left 20 children and six adults dead.
Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have become two of the leading advocates in America on the issue of gun safety, forming a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions, which is calling for universal background checks for gun buyers and limits on high capacity ammunition magazines.
Kelly also testified at the hearing, saying “We aren’t here as victims, we are speaking to you here today as Americans. … When dangerous people get dangerous guns we are all the more vulnerable.”
Also testifying at Wednesday’s hearing was the head of the powerful American gun lobby The National Rifle Association (NRA) Wayne LaPierre. He told lawmakers that new proposals to ban assault weapons and increase background checks were not going to solve the problem of gun violence.
“Let’s be honest,” LaPierre said. “Background checks will never be universal, because criminals will never submit to them.”
LaPierre also called for stricter enforcement of current gun laws, “violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill who possess firearms are not being prosecuted. And that’s unacceptable,” said LaPierre.
US President Barack Obama has called for new gun control legislation, including banning military-style assault weapons, requiring background checks on all gun purchases, and outlawing ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has introduced legislation banning the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semiautomatic weapons, as well as limiting ammunition magazines to ten rounds.