During the fatal Arizona shootout, former Representative Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords took a bullet to the head and was left in critical condition. She had to go into surgery to remove a piece of her skull to prevent her brain from swelling. The odds were against her — but she survived and lives to tell the tale. Although they are devoted advocates for stricter gun control, Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly are still gun enthusiasts and owners.
In a CNN interview on Tuesday, Kelly was recorded engaging in target practice with the very firearm that almost killed his wife in 2011.
Their predicament sheds light on a middle ground often not seen in the gun control debate. In the media, the battle is often polarized between people who would rather see guns gone in their entirety versus those who see no point in placing further restrictions. Giffords and her husband prove that it is possible to be tied to gun culture as well as fight for the improvement of it.
"I gave this to Gabby as a gift a number of years ago. She's a gun owner," Kelly said about his wife and her 9mm Glock. He revealed that Giffords didn't wish to part with the weapon. During the interview, Kelly said that the difference between his gun and the one that wounded his wife was that in the Arizona shooting, the gun had a magazine that held more rounds.
Background checks in particular are an arena of debate that is filled with misconceptions. With the way media outlets report, it can be concluded that background checks are not actively used in the gun community. However, they are, though there are certain aspects some Democrats wish to enhance while some Republicans shun. In current law, the use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) isn't mandatory for private gun sales. Furthermore, states aren't obligated to share NICS records across state lines. This is crucial when it comes to mental health records. The Virginia Tech shooter was deemed mentally ill prior to the massacre, but still managed to pass a background check. Upcoming legislation hopes to close the loopholes that would help prevent such incidents from repeating.
In the CNN interview, Kelly said that Giffords has since tried holding and aiming a gun with her left hand, since her right is paralyzed. Learning how to shoot again isn't at the top of the former r representative’s priority list. Giffords also said that in spite of everything, she held no resent toward the shooting. She described herself as "stronger, better, tougher" and emphasized wanting to move ahead from the past.
Although the couple is pushing for change, they are aware of how political limitations the arguments for comprehensive gun control face.