Will former Congressman Gabby Giffords’ new gun control group be a countervailing political force to the legendarily potent NRA? It sounds as if that’s its aspiration:
A new gun control group led by Gabrielle Giffords, the former U.S. congresswoman wounded in a Tucson shooting rampage, wants to raise $20 million for the 2014 congressional elections, matching the National Rifle Association’s spending in last November’s elections, the group’s treasurer said on Wednesday.
Giffords and her husband, former U.S. astronaut Mark Kelly, have turned to Houston trial lawyer and Democratic donor Steve Mostyn to act as treasurer. He gave $1 million of his own money to help kick start a campaign launched on Tuesday calling for what Giffords and Kelly describe as common-sense measures to curb gun violence.
The move marks the entry of the high-profile couple, both gun owners, into a heated national debate over gun control fueled by the massacre of 20 children and six teachers at a Connecticut elementary school last month.
“We’re just getting things started, but I’ve had conversations with a dozen other large political donors who have worked with me on other issues in the past, and I’ve had a good response,” Mostyn told Reuters.
Even if the group manages to meet its funding targets, it and other similar groups face a steep battle to change U.S. gun laws. The U.S. House of Representatives has a pro-gun rights majority and it’s too early to know if the outcry after the Connecticut shooting will lead to a shift in how they vote.
Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday the White House is determined to act quickly to curb gun violence and will explore all avenues – including executive orders that would not require approval by Congress.
Once a favorite cause of wealthy liberals from Hollywood to Manhattan, gun control has fallen out of favor in recent years, and Congress has not approved any major restrictions on gun ownership in nearly two decades.
But the tide might be turning..
And one way it could turn: if there is a group that can counter the political potency of the NRA’s political bankroll — so those who are in favor of various forms of gun regulation aren’t steamrolled at the polls by candidates getting big bucks from the NRA and being in a position where they don’t have the campaign funds to defend themselves…or the position held by most Americans, according to polls.