Tucson Survivors Challenge the NRA: Stand With Us for Commonsense Gun Laws

Co-written with Colonel (ret.) Bill Badger and Mavy Stoddard

We are three survivors of the January 8th, 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona and we are a diverse group of real, patriotic Americans. We are a Republican, an Independent and a Democrat, and we strongly support the second amendment. We are retired Army Colonel Bill Badger, a gun owner who taught his children and grandchildren to hunt; Mavy Stoddard, also a gun owner who taught her four daughters how to shoot; and, Patricia Maisch, small business owner.

We are some of the too many faces of gun violence in this country.

Gun violence prevention is a deeply personal issue for each of us. That's why we traveled to St. Louis this past weekend -- where the NRA held its annual convention -- to ask the NRA leadership to join our efforts to pass commonsense gun laws and to help prevent future tragedies. As gun owners ourselves, we know that we can honor our great nation's heritage of gun ownership and hunting while still taking sensible steps to strengthen our gun laws to help prevent others from suffering the same horrors we've endured. For example, we should require a background check for every gun sale. And we must repeal the tragic "Shoot First" laws that the NRA leadership and their lobbyists have pushed for, and passed, in 25 states.

Our lives were changed forever by needless gun violence. Words cannot describe the horror -- the death and bloodshed -- that we witnessed that morning. Six good Americans were taken from us, murdered by a young man with a gun, that horrific day: Dorothy Morris, Dorwan Stoddard, Phylis Schneck, Federal Judge John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, and beautiful, little nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green are forever gone. Thirteen others, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, were injured. Shot on the sidewalk of our local grocery store by a young man that should never have had a gun.

That's why we have resolved to take positive action to temper the horrors of that beautiful Saturday morning in Tucson by working together to fix our gun laws.

We came to St. Louis to remind the NRA leadership that their obstruction has horrible, deadly consequences. Last year's shooting in Tucson is just another tragic example of what happens when a gun falls -- or is placed -- into the wrong hands.

The Trayvon Martin shooting is another example of what happens when NRA lobbyists have too much influence over our lawmakers.

Contrary to what the NRA leadership said this weekend, we know that the American people are with us. Their prayers have been with us since we started our endless journey of recovery from January 8th. And the American people, including the vast majority of the rank and file membership of the NRA, continue to stand with us in our effort to prevent future gun violence tragedies.

That's why we were trying to talk directly with the NRA leadership, to tell them "We don't want your guns, we want your help." Unfortunately, Wayne LaPierre and the other NRA executives wouldn't take our call this year in St. Louis, just like they refused to talk with us at their convention last year. But if they did, here's what we would ask them: How much more pain, how much more sorrow, how many more deaths by illegal guns must we endure before we get the NRA's support to do something about it?