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Published July 02 2013

Forum editorial: A Fargo welcome to Giffords

We welcome to Fargo-Moorhead one of the most courageous Americans on the public scene today, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, will conduct a 3 p.m. forum today at Atomic Coffee in downtown Fargo.

Giffords was shot in the head in 2011 and has been in recovery mode ever since. Her recovery thus far has been inspiring. She and Kelly established Americans for Responsible Solutions after the shooting incident, which occurred during a political rally in Arizona. Their advocacy group encourages elected officials to stand up for “common-sense solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun violence” – a proposition that thinking Americans support, some 90 percent according to latest polling data.

Giffords’ agenda includes working to enact a comprehensive federal background check for gun purchases, which 79 percent of North Dakotans support, polls show, but not 79 percent of the state’s elected representatives. North Dakotans also believe by a margin of 69 percent that it is possible to protect gun rights and strengthen gun laws. Elected officials, state and federal, are out of step on that one, too.

Giffords and Kelly have emerged as among the nation’s most powerful, persuasive and common-sense voices in the nation’s evolving gun violence debate. As they crisscross the country, they are finding a majority of Americans, if not a majority of officeholders who purport to represent Americans, want comprehensive, balanced gun laws. The background check bill that was defeated a few weeks ago in the U.S. Senate is an example of the kind of measure that has widespread support but can’t pass because of the power of the gun industry and its mouthpiece, the National Rifle Association.

Giffords and Kelly are continuing and enhancing the work of James and Sarah Brady of the Brady Foundation. James Brady was President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary. He was permanently injured by gunfire during an assassination attempt on the president.

Coincidentally, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who voted against the background check bill, will be in Fargo today for a midday veterans’ event. She might want to skip on over to Atomic Coffee at 3 p.m. for the gun violence forum. Having swilled the NRA’s toxic Kool-Aid, a cup of head-clearing coffee and a heart-to-heart with Giffords and Kelly might do the senator some good.

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.