Gabby Giffords starts Arizona gun control group aimed at expanding background checks

Giffords founded at least her seventh state franchise last week, the latest with a mandate to bring more regulations to the state she formerly represented.

The former lawmaker and her husband, retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, debuted the “Arizona Coalition for Common Sense,” at a press conference in Phoenix last Thursday. Similar coalitions were announced last year in Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Virginia last year, five with the same “common sense” moniker. The gun safety advocates argue Arizona has several loopholes in its gun laws that need to be addressed, prompting the need for the local group.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage – the courage to do what’s right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Giffords in a statement repeated from prior announcements. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

The initiatives backed by the new Arizona group include an expansion of background checks to include most private gun transfers and increasing mandatory gun surrenders in cases of domestic abuse. The group contends the number of gun deaths in Arizona is much higher than the national average and, citing figures from Everytown, that 62 percent of women who were killed by intimate partners in Arizona were shot to death.

Among those comprising the new group are Giffords and Kelly, members of Tempe-based Arizonans for Gun Safety, former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, and religious leaders to include Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Tucson Diocese and Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata of the United Methodist Church. Giffords was joined by at least one survivor of the Jan. 8, 2011 Tucson parking lot shooting that wounded the lawmaker along with 13 others and left six dead.

Sometimes controversial Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus was also an inaugural member of the group.

“Throughout my career, I have seen far too many crime scenes involving a gun death or injury. It’s not something you ever forget and it’s difficult to talk about, but it’s a public safety problem that needs our immediate attention,” said Magnus.

Per the Center for Responsive Politics, the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC spent $13.4 million in the 2016 election cycle, down from the $19.5 million invested backing gun control in 2014.