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Giffords, Kelly in Alaska to urge background checks for gun buyers

Lisa Demer
Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, left, and husband and retired astronaut Mark Kelly meet with a small group and Alaska gun owners Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at the Hotel Captain Cook. The two founded a gun violence prevention group called Americans for Responsible Solutions, and are visiting several states this summer on the Rights and Responsibilities tour. Giffords is the Arizona Democrat who survived an assassination attempt at a 2011 meet-and-greet in Tucson that claimed the lives of six people.
Erik Hill
Former astronaut Mark Kelly fires a hunting rifle at a shooting range on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska, as Anders Gustafson spots bullet placement on the target. Kelly and his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, are in Alaska as part of a seven-state "Rights and Responsibilities Tour" urging members of Congress to expand background checks on gun sales. Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt, and Kelly founded Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Dan Joling
Former astronaut Mark Kelly watches another shooter fire a gun at a shooting range on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska. Kelly and his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, are in Alaska as part of a seven-state "Rights and Responsibilities Tour" urging members of Congress to expand background checks on gun sales. Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt, and Kelly founded Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Dan Joling
Former astronaut Mark Kelly fires .22-caliber handgun left-handed at a shooting range on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska, as Anders Gustafson spots bullet placement on the target. Kelly and his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, are in Alaska as part of a seven-state "Rights and Responsibilities Tour" urging members of Congress to expand background checks on gun sales. Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt, and Kelly founded Americans for Responsible Solutions. Giffords, whose right arm is paralyzed, fired a gun left-handed Monday in Nevada and Kelly said he promised her he would try shooting that way Tuesday.
Dan Joling
Former astronaut Mark Kelly fires a gun at a target as Anders Gustafson looks downrange at a shooting range on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska. Kelly and his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, are in Alaska as part of a seven-state "Rights and Responsibilities Tour" urging members of Congress to expand background checks on gun sales. Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt, and Kelly founded Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Dan Joling

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, are in Anchorage to meet with gun owners and put pressure on Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski to support expanded background checks for gun buyers.

Giffords is the Arizona Democrat who survived an assassination attempt at a 2011 meet-and-greet in Tucson. Earlier this year, in response to the December school shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., she and Kelly founded a gun violence prevention group called Americans for Responsible Solutions. They are calling this summer's trek the "Rights and Responsibilities" tour.

The two are flying into key states whose senators voted against expanding background checks.

Begich is one of four Democrats who broke party ranks and voted against a watered-down bill in April, drawing proponents' ire. He has said the expanded background checks don't make sense for Alaska, especially in rural areas where gun sellers may not have access to high-speed Internet.

"Senator Begich and Senator Murkowski are independent leaders who put aside special interests to advocate for Alaska," Kelly said in a written statement. "They have the same opportunity when it comes to promoting responsible gun ownership. By supporting responsible policies like background checks, they can forge a middle path that makes their communities safer and protects the rights and traditions that are important to Alaskans."

Giffords and Kelly were scheduled to arrive in Anchorage Monday evening. They are visiting a shooting range and holding a roundtable with a small group of gun owners on Tuesday morning. They plan to talk with news reporters mid-day.

Their group commissioned a state-by-state poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research that found 72 percent of Alaska voters support background checks on all gun sales.

Next stop: North Dakota, where freshman Sen. Heidi Heikamp, another Democrat, also voted no on the proposal before Congress. Other states on the tour include Nevada, Ohio and New Hampshire.

They also are visiting Maine and North Carolina, where there are high percentages of gun owners and where senators supported the background checks.

 

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

 

 


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com