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Gabby Giffords testifies in Olympia in support of gun control

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OLYMPIA — Gun control was the issue of the day in Olympia. Hundreds of people turned out to testify in support of two different initiatives regarding background checks. Some of the most poignant testimony came from former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

“We must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight,” she said.

photo 2Giffords is not only talking about her efforts to recover from a gunshot wound three years ago, when a long gunman walked up and shot her point-blank in the head while she was at a campaign event in Tucson, Ariz., but she was also talking about the effort to make our country safer from gun violence.

She and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, came to Olympia to push a Washington state initiative, I-594, that would expand criminal background checks for gun purchases.

“Right now, you go to a gun store, you got to get a background check,” Kelly said. But “for a criminal that fails, he can go down the street and go to a gun show” and buy a firearm.  “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Kelly admits gun control is a complicated issue with two passionate sides. There were lines of people outside the state Capitol in support of I-594.

“It is a step, it is not the final measure,” said Randy Holland. “I think more gun safety is needed, but this is at least one step.”

“What is it going to take for us to say we need to change?” asked Patricia Johnson, as she listed off some recent cases of violence.

But there were also many supporters who turned out in favor of I-591, a different initiative that would limit what the state could do regarding gun purchases.

“The background check systems do not work,” said Devyn Hembry. “We need to deal with our criminals, that’s the problem.”

“They’re punishing law-abiding citizens, they’re not focusing on criminals,” added Kevin King.

Kelly used to live in this state, and says he understands why some people don’t want more government control.

“Washington has a very strong history of gun ownership. I’m a gun owner, Gabby is a gun owner.  We’re strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment, we get that.”

But he and his wife say the only way to start reducing gun violence is to start making it harder for criminals to get weapons.  They told legislators I-594 will do that.

“Be bold, be courageous, the nation is counting on you,” Giffords testified.

The state House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on both initiatives Tuesday. But if the Legislature as a whole does not act on either, then they initiatives end up on the ballot in November and voters will decide the issue.

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  • The World is Ending

    Somany of you pro gun control especially liberals have deluded themselves that outlawing guns will keep them out of the hands of criminals and others argue that it would stop accidental shootings more importantly children, but if you remember that several of the children killed last year were kids of cops, who would still have their guns even if private citizens could own one. Outlawing guns is not the answer keeping criminals in jail where they belong and actually holding irresponsible people accountable whether it be a gun, knife, car, or any thin else that can be used as a weapon is.

  • Wanderingirl

    God forbid someone actually excercises their 1st amendment rights. Frank, she was shot in the head while serving our country and while I may not agree with all of her politics, she has certainly earned to right speak to our house committee. She lost staff members there. Innocent bystanders were killed. Show some respect.

    • MSG Laigaie

      I was shot while serving my country on more than one occasion. That does not give me any special right to speak in the Washington House. Her reasoning is false, she was shot by a crazy man that passes…..wait for it…..a Background Check!! Have you even read this proposal for background checks? I doubt it or you would not be supporting it.

  • D-MIN

    Why is an out of state person testifying in our state? Thats a lot of BS. I-594 is going to take the rights of people away and like many of our rights in the past we will surrender them. I do understand what Wandergirl is saying and some respect does need to be given. However, how many innocent lives would have been saved if just one bystander was armed? To follow what Obama said at a memorial service in September, if we followed Australia, the Aussie bureu of criminial stats says that America should expect to see a 42% increase in violent crimes, even theyy say that taking guns away did very little for them.

  • Wanderingirl

    Good question D-MIN. Probably for the same reason that a California NRA lobbyist testified. Because they can. Brian Judy is from CA and testified today.

  • Richard Bailey

    This article if very misleading. You failed to mention that I-594 applies to ALL gun transfers including temporary and incidental transfers. One situation where this could disastrous is where a homeowner shoots an intruder who is a gang member. The police are required to confiscate ALL weapons in the house during the investigation. That leaves the homeowner completely defenseless. Under I-594 no friend or relative would be able to immediately loan the homeowner a gun to defend himself against retaliation by the gang. Furthermore, I-594 extends the waiting period for a replacement purchase to 10 days and requires a background check before the homeowners guns could be returned by the police. It would be a real tragedy if I-594 leads to a family being massacred by a gang.

  • Rusty Young Man

    The outrage should be over the fact that an out-of-stater was given time to speak on a bill that would affect not HER, but residents of Washington, on the dime of those Washington taxpayers. Her time should have been in proportion to how much the bill would affect her: nothing.
    Perhaps if she was being called on as an expert witness, but nothing makes her an expert on guns or gun "control". If being shot suddenly makes one an expert on guns, I guess millions of Americans are experts on thermodynamics because they've burned their tongues while drinking coffee?

    As to the gun "control" issue: if such laws are being passed with the goal of putting an end to murders, robberies, and rape, why not pass laws that make those illegal? After all, criminals are known to follow the law, right? Isn't that the definition of the word "criminal" or "outlaw"?

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