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Former US lawmaker Giffords launches gun control initiative

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* Wounded Arizona ex-lawmaker says "enough"

* Group seeks "common-sense" solutions to curb violence

* Giffords initiative aims to raise funds, challenge NRA

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Former U.S. Representative
Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded two years ago in an
Arizona shooting, is launching a group aimed at curbing gun
violence and raising enough money to challenge the well-funded
gun lobby.

Giffords, starting the effort called Americans for
Responsible Solutions with her husband former astronaut Mark
Kelly, told ABC News that Congress must do more to prevent gun
violence.

The two are gun owners, but in the wake of a string of
recent mass shootings, they said more must be done to push
common-sense efforts to reduce such violence.

"Enough," Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting
with constituents in Tucson, Arizona, told ABC in an interview
aired on Tuesday.

The initiative aims to "encourage elected officials to stand
up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible
gun ownership," the group said on its website,
americansforresponsiblesolutions.org.

It will push for background checks for private gun sales and
look at ways to better address mental illness, among other
efforts, Kelly told ABC.

Gifford's group is set to take on the National Rifle
Association, which in 2011 spent over eleven times more on
lobbying than all gun control lobbyists combined.

Her group has set up a political action committee for
donations to "raise the funds necessary to balance the influence
of the gun lobby," it said on its website.

"Until now, the gun lobby's political contributions,
advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from anti-gun
violence groups. No longer," Giffords wrote in an opinion piece
published Tuesday in USA Today

She added: "winning even the most common-sense reforms will
require a fight ... Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and
prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their
reach and resources."

The announcement comes just days after Giffords visited
Newtown, Connecticut, and met with families of the victims of
last month's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in which 20
children and six teachers were killed.

Giffords also recently met with New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, who heads his own mayors' initiative that is also
pushing for what he calls "reasonable" gun controls.

In the wake of the Dec. 14 Connecticut shooting, President
Barack Obama has pledged to take swift action to reduce gun
violence and has tapped a task force due to report later this
month with possible measures.

The task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, is
reportedly weighing action beyond reinstating a ban on assault
weapons and high-capacity magazines to include universal
background checks and a national gun sales database, among other
steps.

The wave of shootings and the threat of tighter gun
restrictions has spurred intense reaction on both sides.

Consumer demand for guns appears to have soared in recent
weeks, according to FBI data.

Gun control supporters worry that other looming issues such
as the nation's debt crisis could hamper efforts in Congress to
push through new legislation.

Bloomberg's group launched its own new ad on Tuesday with
the mother of child who was killed in the Arizona shooting.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130108/former-us-lawmaker-giffords-launches-gun-control-initiative