On the same day that President Obama promotes his gun proposals just miles from the site of the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords pushed for universal background checks in an Aurora newspaper op-ed titled "Aurora and I Know What Gun Background Checks Are Really About."
"Background checks protect our rights and they protect our families. I own a gun, and my husband, Mark, a combat veteran and former astronaut, owns guns. My mom, who lives way out in the desert, owns a gun. For us and our neighbors, gun ownership is a part of our everyday lives. We use our guns responsibly and we know from experience how easy background checks are. It's the people who don't get a background check we should worry about," Giffords wrote in the Aurora Sentinel newspaper on Wednesday.
"Proposed background checks legislation creates a tool, not an obstacle, for gun owners to responsibly exercise their rights. As the owner of a firearm, I don't want to transfer my gun to someone who would use it irresponsibly. But now, without a background check, it's hard to tell if someone I want to sell my weapon to is dangerous or not. The last thing I want is to transfer a gun to someone who will do harm with it," she wrote. "Background checks legislation will fix that. It will make it easier for you and me to exercise our Second Amendment rights. It's a simple, fair, and fast system- but provides peace of mind to gun owners and to the communities they care about. And it's not going to result in anyone registering or taking our guns away."
The Senate is set to consider comprehensive gun legislation this month, but many Republicans and moderate Democrats have expressed concerns with the universal background checks, a component that could jeopardize the success of the plan.
Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, have advocated for new gun control legislation in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The two have testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill and taken their gun control push to state legislatures.
"Like most Americans, I'm sick of the infighting in Washington - I want to see our strong, independent voices in Congress come together and solve problems," Giffords wrote.
"Residents of Aurora know as well as I do how quickly a place that feels safe and normal can turn dangerous and deadly when the wrong person has access to a gun," Giffords wrote. "Nothing we do can bring those people back - I know this well. And it is true that violence in our society and our country is a complicated problem - no one piece of legislation will bring an end to it. But when I look at the pictures of those lost in Aurora, in Tucson, in Newtown - and at the grieving communities and families they leave behind - I know that we must act now to reduce gun violence."
The Aurora Sentinel homepage also prominently displays four ads for Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun control group founded by Giffords and Kelly.
The president is traveling to Colorado on Wednesday to deliver a speech on his gun proposals. While in Colorado, he'll meet with law enforcement officials and community leaders at the Denver Police Academy. On Monday, he will continue his gun proposal push when he travels to Connecticut for another speech.