(KMSP) - Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, joined local leaders in Minnesota Thursday to announce a new statewide effort to reduce gun violence.
Giffords and her husband have been fighting for stricter gun laws nationwide ever since her life was forever changed during a shooting 5 years ago. After attempts to tighten loopholes at the federal level failed in 2013, the couple is now taking a state to state approach to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.
Together with a bipartisan group of local gun owners, law enforcement officials, business leaders, veterans, community advocates, prosecutors, educators and domestic violence prevention advocates, they launched the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense with the goal of urging elected officials to take action against gun violence.
“We can protect a lot of Minnesotans with similar a state law, so if the federal government isn’t' going to protect the people from gun violence, state legislators and governors can,” Giffords said.
The coalition is being launched in Minnesota because of the view they believe the state Legislature will be able to get laws pertaining to gun safety passed.
During a roundtable discussion Thursday, Gifford and Kelly sat down with members of law enforcement, prosecutors and community activists to discuss a variety of issues.
From guns on college campuses to violence against women to mental health, suicide rates, and effects on children, the coalition is looking at ways to reduce the potential for gun injuries and deaths from all angles.
The couple has several events planned in the Twin Cities to promote the new effort, including a roundtable discussion on reducing gun violence and a visit to an indoor shooting range.
“The [Minnesota] Coalition for Common Sense is not trying to prevent gun sales; we are trying to prevent them from getting in the hands of people who should not have them,” James Backstrom, a Dakota County prosecutor said.
Their next steps from here are to try and sit down with state lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton to detail a plan for getting a bill or bills proposed.