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Gabby Giffords, congresswoman who was shot, pitches gun control

President Obama hugs Gabby Giffords at the 2012 State of the Union.

President Obama hugs Gabby Giffords at the 2012 State of the Union.

Gabby Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman, was shot in the head during a 2011 mass shooting that killed six and wounded 13. She’s been traveling the country advocating gun control ever since.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, have worked for expanding background checks in New Hampshire and Oregon. On Thursday, she’s touching down in the Twin Cities to launch the “Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense,” an anti-gun violence campaign with the focus of closing the state’s private sale loophole.

Federally licensed gun dealers are obligated to run background checks on customers. But here in Minnesota, ordinary folks can buy and sell firearms online and at gun stores without that safety precaution. While private sales make it easy for legal gun owners to trade hardware, criminals take advantage too. 

One state bill, authored by state Rep. Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester), would require background checks for all pistol and assault rifle sales. It's already faced loud opposition from gun groups who believe that government shouldn't regulate sales at all.

Giffords is coming to support Norton's bill and to meet with gun control groups, mental health and domestic violence prevention advocates, prosecutors, and police. The exact location is yet undisclosed.

Minnesota, according to Giffords' spokesman Mark Prentice, is a critical state for gun control.

“Minnesota has a very long tradition of responsible gun ownership,” Prentice says. “Minnesotans own guns for hunting, for self-protection. We want solutions that respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and also keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. That’s why the focus is on background checks.”