Giffords in Cedar Rapids, rallies gun control advocates

Former Arizona representative: 'The nation's counting on you'

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Her message was short, direct and powerful.

In less than a minute, gun violence survivor and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gave gun control supporters their marching orders.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage,” Giffords, 46, told about 75 people gathered Tuesday in Greene Square in downtown Cedar Rapids, one of the stops on her 2016 Vocal Majority Tour of 14 states leading up to Election Day. “The courage to do what’s right. The courage of new ideas.”

Gun safety legislation is an idea whose time has come, according to legislators, candidates and representatives of local organizations.

It’s time to start “flipping how we talk about gun violence,” said State Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids, who is unopposed for re-election.

“It’s not about us coming for your guns,” she said. “It’s about coming together as a community to find solutions to keep our kids safe.”

Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt that left her with a severe brain injury, acknowledged that it won’t be easy.

Giffords was elected to Congress from an Arizona congressional district in 2006. In 2011, as she was leaving a meeting with constituents, a shooter injured her and 12 others and killed six people. She resigned from Congress in 2012 and has been leading efforts to pass gun control legislation though Americans for Responsible Solutions, which she co-founded.

“I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” she said. “Now is the time to come together, to be responsible, Democrat and Republican, everyone. We must never stop fighting. Fight. Fight. Fight.”

“Be bold,” Giffords said “Be courageous. The nation’s counting on you.”

Her 14-state tour is part of the grassroots effort to push gun control legislation to the forefront of the 2016 election, said Amber Gustafson of Ankeny, president of the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action, which has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president and other “gun sense” candidates.

“We’re making this an issue they can run on and win on,” Gustafson said after the rally, “and make it politically costly to oppose.”

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