Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords smiles as she raises a fist pump to the crowd as she, her husband Mark Kelly, and a number of other Tucson mass shooting victims returned to the site of a shooting that left her critically wounded to urge key senators to support expanded background checks for gun purchases, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP)
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords blasted "misinformation" and "scare tactics" she said are being used to derail universal background checks, and implored lawmakers to act now to pass stricter gun control measures.
In an op-ed published Sunday in the New York Daily News, the former Arizona congresswoman, shot in the head in January 2011, repeated her call for tougher laws for gun buyers.
"[L]ately I'm not feeling too patient toward senators and representatives who are listening to the misinformation that's out there about universal background checks instead of to their constituents, and saying they may not support common sense solutions to ending gun violence," Giffords wrote.
Saying an overwhelming majority of Americans support universal background checks, Giffords said she "can't remember a time when this many Americans spoke with such a united voice in favor of anything."
"And yet, some leaders are suggesting they might not listen to our voices," she wrote. "They repeat old scare tactics, like that there will be a gun registry that could take our guns away from us. My husband Mark and I are gun owners, and we know that's not true. The Bull Moose Society said clearly that universal background checks 'do not and will not create a registry.'"
Giffords noted that her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, underwent a 5-minute background check last month to purchase an AR-15.
"I remember waiting a lot longer than that for the subway to take me to my office when I lived in New York City!" she wrote. "And then we have a second system for those who don't want to take a background check. Those people -- criminals, or people suffering from mental illness, like the young man who shot me -- can buy as many guns as they want on the Internet or at a gun show, no questions asked."
Kelly said he bought the AR-15 in order to highlight the ease of buying a gun. The sale was ultimately rejected because of Kelly's statements that the purchase was "for reasons other then for his personal use."
In her op-ed, Giffords said she is still working to recover from the critical injuries she sustained in the Tucson shooting.
"I had to learn to walk again. I had to learn to write and use my iPad with my left hand. I'm still working on regaining my speech; I work every day to get more words back," she wrote. "Determination guides me every day. And we need to be determined too. Determined to pass background checks legislation -- to make it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to get deadly weapons in the first place."
She said passing further background check legislation will show "that we are as strong and resilient and determined as our Founding Fathers hoped we would be" and that the U.S. is "a safer country with strong and honored Second Amendment rights."
"The will of the American people is clear, but our patience is wearing thin. Congress must not fail us. Congress must pass background checks now -- to put us on the road to a safer country," Giffords wrote.
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