By Matt Pearce
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made her first visit to a gun show since she was shot in 2011, attending a New York event Sunday with her husband, Mark Kelly, and the state's attorney general. It was no casual trip to the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair, but part of a political tour to showcase New York's aggressive policing of buyers at gun shows.
"The state's model helps keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them_like criminals and the dangerously mentally ill_without infringing on our Second Amendment rights," said Kelly, who helps run the couple's gun-control political-action group, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
"This is a chance for Gabby and me to visit New York's largest arms fair and highlight this background-checks system, which we believe can serve as a template for gun shows around the country," he said.
Giffords was wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left her with brain injuries. In all, six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Giffords.
A highly public road to partial recovery has brought Giffords and her husband, both gun owners, to the forefront of a renewed campaign to bolster gun-control rules across the U.S. The effort ultimately stalled in Congress this year after aggressive counter-lobbying by the National Rifle Association and other groups. "Here in New York, we have chosen a different path," state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement. "By working in cooperation with gun-show operators, we have crafted Model Gun Show Procedures that have closed the gun-show loophole in New York. Everyone agrees on the need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill."
"Everyone agrees" may be a bit strong: an investigationby the attorney general's office in 2011 found gun-show dealers allegedly trying to evade the state's laws requiring background checks for buyers. At least 10 sellers faced criminal charges.
What was thought to have been a statutorily closed loophole was, in practice, still open.
That led the attorney general to pursue more aggressive practices with the state's gun-show owners, including a policy to "tag"guns that go into a show to ensure better tracking.
The attorney general's office says a background check is now conducted on "virtually every" gun sold at New York gun shows, with nearly three dozen gun-show owners, running 80 shows, having signed the protocols.
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