Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made her first visit to a gun show since she was shot in 2011, attending a New York event Sunday with her husband, Mark Kelly, and the state’s attorney general.
It was no casual trip to the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair, but part of a political tour to showcase New York’s aggressive policing of buyers at gun shows.
“The state’s model helps keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them – like criminals and the dangerously mentally ill – without infringing on our Second Amendment rights,” said Kelly, who helps run the couple’s gun-control political-action group, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Giffords was wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left her with brain injuries. In all, six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Giffords.
A highly public road to partial recovery has brought Giffords and her husband, both gun owners, to the forefront of a renewed campaign to bolster gun-control rules across the U.S. The effort ultimately stalled in Congress this year after aggressive counter-lobbying by the National Rifle Association and other groups.
“Here in New York, we have chosen a different path,” state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “By working in cooperation with gun-show operators, we have crafted model gun show procedures that have closed the gun-show loophole in New York. Everyone agrees on the need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.”
“Everyone agrees” may be a bit strong: an investigation by the attorney general’s office in 2011 found gun-show dealers allegedly trying to evade the state’s laws requiring background checks for buyers. At least 10 sellers faced criminal charges.
That led the attorney general to pursue more aggressive practices with the state’s gun-show owners, including a policy to “tag” guns that go into a show to ensure better tracking.
The attorney general’s office says a background check is now conducted on “virtually every” gun sold at New York gun shows, with nearly three dozen gun-show owners running 80 shows having signed the protocols.