Congressman Ron Barber, D-Ariz., a survivor of the Tucson shooting that severely injured former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, says Giffords plans to personally lobby her former colleagues on gun legislation as it makes its way through Congress.
Giffords and her husband Commander Mark Kelly "will be making visits to members of Congress and will be trying to -- in a one-on-one relationship and meeting -- lay out their case,” says Barber, Giffords' former aide and successor. Barber was shot twice in the shooting that injured Giffords. “Their effort, I think, to keep this issue alive in the public arena is very important, and I know that is a large part of what they want to do.”
On Tuesday, Barber introduced a bill calling for expanded mental health services. He is optimistic that other gun control measures can get bipartisan support, including stricter background checks and limiting access to high capacity magazines.
"This is a very personal issue with me," says Barber, who says the shooter responsible for killing six people in Tucson and injuring 14 others used a Glock.
"That Glock had a 30-round magazine and one in the chamber and he shot 31 bullets in less than 45 seconds. Nineteen people went down, 6 died, I was shot twice, congresswoman was shot, I saw two people die at my side. That kind of firepower I think we have to do something about, and I believe there is a lot of support in the country and also Congress for that as well."
The Arizona congressman says he is a supporter of the second amendment, and adds he is not interested in taking people's guns away.
"I'm more interested in taking away access to these large capacity magazines, which have created such terrible disasters and mass murders in our country," says Barber, adding the magazines, like the 30-round magazines involved in the Tucson and Newtown shootings, should not be so large.
Barber says this moment is different than the aftermath of other mass shootings.
“I think Sandy Hook was a tipping point,” the congressman says. “It's unthinkable. And I think the level of the massacre ... the fact that you have defenseless 6-year-olds that were trying to be protected by their teachers -- that has really caught the imagination, the heart, and conscience of America. That's why I believe it's possible to get something done now that we couldn't do before.”
Check out this week's Top Line for more of this interview, including Barber's take on what can realistically pass in Congress this year.