TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The gun safety group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords has recruited an unlikely ally: a group of former high-level military officials.
The political action committee Americans for Responsible Solutions, co-founded by retired Navy veteran and astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, has formed a new group composed of military officials who will advocate for stricter gun regulations.
The group includes retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, former Coast Guard commander Adm. Thad W. Allen and retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, among others.
The advisory committee was announced Friday in Washington, D.C.
Kelly, a former combat pilot and Giffords's husband, said he hopes the new group will reach more veterans and inspire more people to act on gun laws.
"They have a lot of firearms training and they know the power and the consequences of firearms, and they understand that easy access to firearms makes our communities less safe and schools less safe and kids less safe," Kelly told The Associated Press on Friday.
In a statement, Allen said he joined the group because gun violence is at a level that requires national response.
"And that response must include some commonsense steps that keep guns out of the wrong hands, protect the Second Amendment rights of responsible people, and save lives," Allen said.
Americans for Responsible Solutions has already claimed a victory after President Barack Obama issued executive action on gun sales earlier this year.
The president's action was aimed at narrowing the loophole that exempts gun sales from background checks if the seller isn't a federally registered dealer. It implements guidance specifying that even those who sell just a few weapons at gun shows, flea markets or online can be deemed dealers and required to conduct checks on prospective buyers. Americans for Responsible Solutions staffers worked with the president's staff for a year on the action, Kelly said.
Critics say the plan won't make a significant dent in unregulated sales and that Obama should have let Congress handle the issue.
Giffords and Kelly founded the group following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Giffords was nearly killed in the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson during a constituent event she held as a congresswoman. Giffords, the target of the attack, was shot in the head. Six people died and 13, including Giffords, were injured. Giffords remains paralyzed on most of the right side of her body and suffers from a language disorder known as aphasia.
The killer, Jared Loughner, was sentenced to life in prison.
On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Americans don't have a constitutional right to carry concealed guns in public and that California authorities can require applicants to show "good cause" before granting permits. The ruling in California upheld restrictions on concealed carry permits that required applicants to show they needed to carry a concealed weapon beyond simple safety.