Gabby Giffords launches new Texas gun lobby
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was in Austin Tuesday to discuss gun control with Texas gun owners.
The gathering happened in a small room in a downtown Austin Hotel. It was a spirited and sometimes disarming discussion.
"Hey I'm your worst nightmare, I’m a liberal with a gun,” laughed panel member Pat Krov.
The 12 people in the group that met Tuesday with Giffords are Texas gun owners who share her concern about the recent deadly attacks involving firearms.
"Now is the time to come together, be responsible, Democrat, Republican, everyone,” Giffords said. “We must never stop fighting. Fight. Fight. Fight. Be bold, be courageous, the nation is counting on you.”
The group was put together with the help of activists in Texas with connections to Gifford's organization. Her injury from an assassination attempt in 2011 limited her participation, but that didn't stop what was an hour-long discussion.
"What baffles me, and the reason I'm here is because I believe the greatest threat to my 2nd Amendment rights, are people that are motivated by this ideology that we can't do anything,” said Kevin Cruser, who added some people treat gun ownership like a religion.
The panel voiced unanimous support for universal background checks.
"There needs to be a voice of common sense, hand gun regulations, and policy and who better than to make than gun owners,” panel member Alan Krov said.
Shanna Igo, another gun owner, also believes action will protect her rights.
"And I’m not going to give up my guns, but by god everyone else needs to be as responsible as we are with our guns,” Igo said. “And if we can travel with the size of the guns we travel with, for our safety because we are in bear country, a lot, it shouldn't be that difficult to take it away from people who have no business owning a gun.”
Blame for inaction was put squarely on political lobbyists, specifically the National Rifle Association.
"In the 70's I don’t remember all these mass shootings and stuff and I’m mystified what's changed,” said Randy Steinadel.
Giffords quickly answered, “NRA."
Taking the next step ironically will require getting political, organizing and bringing more people to the table, so the discussion doesn't end in an empty room.
"But the ideas have to come from people in Texas, I have worked here, they don’t want someone from DC flying in on how to fix Texas, we need to make sure we are supporting what people here want to do,” said David Chipman, a senior policy advisor for Giffords.
Jane Mumey may be among those taking Tuesday’s discussion to the Texas Capitol. Back in the 90's, as a staffer for former state Senator Jerry Patterson, she worked on his concealed handgun law. Mumey knows a new gun agenda now will be a harder sell and will require more than a rally on the Capitol steps.
"Grassroots is really just another way to say hope and prayers. This takes action and also a lot of courage,” said Mumey.
Giffords has helped launch similar campaigns in Colorado and in Minnesota. She is scheduled to take part in a town hall discussion Thursday in El Paso, where 22 people were killed earlier this month.