Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords paid a visit to the families of Newtown, Conn. victims last week. While most welcomed the gun violence survivor, Conn. State Rep. DebraLee Hovey posted a Facebook message telling Giffords to "Stay out of my towns."
Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, visited the families of victims lost in the mass shooting in December. The couple was on a cross-country tour to discuss gun-control policy, and today they launched a national group aimed to counter the influence of the gun lobby.
"Until now, the gun lobby's political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun violence groups. No longer. With Americans for Responsible Solutions engaging millions of people about ways to reduce gun violence and funding political activity nationwide, legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby," Giffords and Kelly wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.
Giffords included her own story, which was a shock to the entire nation when it occurred. She was shot, in the head at a small outdoor gathering with her constituents. Giffords was not expected to recover but is now a living, breathing testament to the power of hope and endurance.
"America has seen an astounding 11 mass shootings since a madman used a semiautomatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to shoot me and kill six others. Gun violence kills more than 30,000 Americans annually," Giffords added.
She and Kelly met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week to discuss gun control. Bloomberg is part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, which is seeking dramatic legislative change across the nation. That meeting went well, but Giffords was not exactly welcomed to Newtown with open arms by Representative DebraLee Hovey of Conn.
"Gabby Gifford stay out of my towns!!" Hovey wrote in a Facebook post. "ALL political types KNOW it is courteous to let sitting Reps know when another political is in their District," she explained.
Of course, there was blowback from those who support Giffords, regardless of political affiliation. She is, after all, a survivor of a mass shooting, and Hovey quickly realized she had ignited a fury.
"The remarks I made regarding Congresswoman Gifford's visit were insensitive and if I offended anyone I truly apologize … My comments were meant to be protective of the privacy of the families and our community as we work to move on, and were in no way intended as an insult to Congresswoman Giffords personally," Hovey later posted.
"Our community has struggled greatly through this tragedy, and we are all very sensitive to the potential for this event to be exploited for political purposes. This is what I wish to avoid," Hovey added.
"We have experienced too much death and hurt to remain idle. Our response to the Newtown massacre must consist of more than regret, sorrow and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve fellow citizens and leaders who have the will to prevent gun violence in the future," Giffords and Kelly wrote in their op-ed.
You can visit the new Americans for Responsible Solutions website here.