Everyone agreed that the most powerful moment of the recent Senate hearing on gun violence was the two minutes before it actually started, when former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords read a brief statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging them to "be courageous" and take action. We had all seen her at last year's State of the Union and again at the Democratic convention, on the floor or the House of Representatives and in various interviews to promote a new book with her husband. And she appeared to have largely recovered from the gunshot wound that nearly killed her as she entered the hearing room in another rare public appearance last month. But when Giffords actually started reading, her halting, slightly impeded speech betrayed a new reality that she still has permanent damage from the bullet that went through her skull — that even as her physical recovery is not complete, her political comeback may be more timely than ever.
This month that voice has quite literally become the symbol of the gun control movement. As we pointed out when they decided to form their lobbying group, Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, are the prefect spokespeople for a new push to reign in guns. A former Congresswoman and a military veteran astronaut, gun owners and gun victims, their personal history makes their character and their message nearly unassailable. It's tough to imagine anyone, even the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, finding a way to attack their message without looking monstrous. Just look at the latest ad today from their PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions:
The other advantage to having such a powerful spokesperson is the boost that gives to fundraising. For the time, the shooting in Newtown has offered a rallying point to use for gathering donations. A signal event combined strong messengers like Giffords and Kelly and (billionaire) Michael Bloomberg, and has finally allowed gun control supporters a chance to compete with the NRA's legislative and financial muscle. "We’re going to have to have money to be effective," Kelly told The New York Times in a joint interview with Giffords published on Sunday.
Today's ad also focuses on what has become the most popular and obvious measure, the creation of a nationwide background check system. A reasonable law pushed by two reasonable people will almost certainly pass through Congress in the coming weeks, and once one victory is behind this emotional couple, that momentum and more ads like this one could help push through even more.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.