Gabby Giffords and Mark KellyOLYMPIA—Former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, will testify in support of Initiative 594 to expand criminal background checks during a State House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Giffords was brutally shot during a rampage that killed 6 and injured 13 others while meeting with constituents in her Tucson area district. In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, she and Kelly formed Americans for Responsible Solutions to help reduce gun violence nationwide. Giffords and Kelly will join hundreds of Washington-state based supporters of background checks and I-594 at the hearing.  Testimony is also expected from a broad coalition of faith leaders, survivors, responsible gun owners and dealers, domestic violence prevention specialists, physicians, mental health professionals, moms, grandmothers and community leaders all united to close loopholes on gun purchases.

“As a shooting survivor who struggled for years with the aftermath of injuries and trauma, I cannot begin to express how meaningful it is to victims, survivors, and their families to have Representative Giffords join our effort here in Washington,” said Cheryl Stumbo, sponsor of I-594 and survivor of the 2006 Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle shooting. “I cried the day Gabby was shot and nearly died, and rejoiced from afar when we all learned she survived. Her recovery, what she—and her husband Mark—have endured together, and the passion they bring to reducing gun violence across the country inspire my own advocacy work.”

The arrival of Giffords and Kelly to a State House committee hearing shines a spotlight on the issue of expanding background checks in Washington State.  Our effort began in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012, and reached a formal certification last week when Initiative 594 gained qualification to the November ballot—if the legislature doesn’t act.

“We are hoping that the incredible presence of Giffords and Kelly, as well as the hundreds of local leaders and activists—representing more than 345,000 Washingtonians who signed I-594 petitions—will remind Olympia leaders that they should do the right thing and pass I-594 into law,” said Zach Silk, campaign manager for I-594. “With more than 80% public support for expanding criminal background checks, we will win this effort, if not in Olympia then in November.  Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly lending their voice to our efforts will be an important piece of Washington’s victory.”

The House Judiciary Committee Hearing will be Tuesday, January 28, at 1:30 pm in the John L. O’Brien Building.

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