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Published: Sunday, 10/13/2013

Ex-lawmaker Giffords, husband attend gun show in upstate N.Y.

Survivor urges end of violence

ASSOCIATED PRESS
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, left, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and her husband, Mark Kelly, tour the New EastCoast Arms Collectors Associates gun show in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, left, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and her husband, Mark Kelly, tour the New EastCoast Arms Collectors Associates gun show in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Gabrielle Giffords toured rows of tables loaded with rifles and handguns Sunday in her first visit to a gun show since surviving a 2011 shooting.

She pleaded afterward for people to come together to stop gun violence.

The former Arizona congressman visited the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair with her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to highlight a voluntary agreement that closely monitors gun-show sales in New York.

The trio mixed with a gun-show crowd that was mostly welcoming — with a few hostile undertones — before calling for people to build on the cooperative effort.

“We must never stop fighting,” Ms. Giffords said at a post-tour news conference, her fist in the air. “Fight! Fight! Fight! Be bold! Be courageous!”

Ms. Giffords, a face of the national gun-control effort, slowly walked hand-in-hand with Mr. Kelly through the large room where Winchester rifles, muzzleloaders, antique knives, and other weapons were on display and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags hung from poles.

They stopped at displays, Mr. Kelly asked dealers questions, and Ms. Giffords shook hands and smiled as people greeted her.

“Good to see you looking good!” some said.

Mr. Kelly bought a book on Colt revolvers and said he probably would have bought a gun if he had had more time. He said both he and his wife are gun owners.

The trio were greeted by light applause when introduced, but some people booed from across the room.

Many said the couple made a good impression.

Dealer Joe Albano, who chatted with Mr. Kelly about his muzzleloaders, said the couple were nice. But he also said he was against New York’s recent gun-control law, which is separate from the Schneiderman initiative.

“If she can help us, fine,” Mr. Albano said. “We’re doing everything right here. We’re legal.”

Under the agreements worked out by Mr. Schneiderman, all firearms are tagged at the entrances to gun shows. Operators must provide computer stations for sellers to do national background checks.

As they are taken away through a limited number of exits, guns are checked to make sure background checks were performed. No buyers can leave a show without documentation of a proper sale.

Mr. Schneiderman, who has worked with all 35 gun-show operators in New York, showed the couple how the process worked. “It’s great to see government and licensed firearms dealers working together to solve a problem,” Mr. Kelly said.

Ms. Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in Tucson. Six people died in the attack.

Though it was mostly smiles inside, about a dozen protesters rallied outside the show holding signs critical of New York’s new law that expanded a ban on military-style weapons, among other things. The law was passed not long after the December school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Kenneth Hall, who held a sign with a swastika that read in part, “gun control made the Holocaust possible,” said the New York background check was not needed. “I believe this is a publicity stunt for Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords,” Mr. Hall said. “They say they’re Second Amendment supporters. I don’t believe they are.”


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