Giffords asks 'What is Congress afraid of?' in SOTU gun control ad

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

(CNN) - Gabby Giffords' gun control group will air an ad featuring the former congresswoman around Tuesday’s State of the Union address, pushing Congress to take action on legislation expanding background checks on firearms sales.

Capitalizing on the wide audience, Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group Giffords founded with her husband, retired NASA space shuttle commander Mark Kelly, will run the ad nationwide around the President's speech. The spot is on the organization's YouTube channel already.
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Giffords, who attended the State of the Union last year as an honored guest of first lady Michelle Obama, was shot and critically wounded in a mass shooting three years ago during a political event at an Arizona supermarket. The incident left six people dead, and Giffords continues to recover.

In the spot, Giffords ask, "What is Congress afraid of?"

"Nine out of 10 Americans support background checks. They make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns. Congress is afraid of the gun lobby. Tell Washington it's too dangerous to wait," she says in the ad.

The group's director, Pia Carusone, said with Americans' overwhelming support, lawmakers should adopt the "commonsense measure" of requiring background checks.

"Congress continues to listen to the gun lobby instead of their constituents, so we're going to keep fighting at the state level to make our communities safer. It's too dangerous to wait," she said in statement about the ad buy.

Following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last year that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead before the shooter committed suicide, President Barack Obama called on Congress to enact stricter gun laws. But efforts to do so dissolved in April on Capitol Hill when a bill that included stronger federal background checks for gun purchases failed to pass the Senate.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday declined to comment on whether the president would address gun control in his speech, but said, "The president's commitment to taking common sense steps to reduce gun violence remains very strong."

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As part of a larger effort to work around Congress, Giffords and Kelly are scheduled to appear before the Washington State legislature on Tuesday, hours before Obama's speech. They plan to testify in favor of a state initiative to expand background checks -- just the second time Giffords has testified before a legislative panel since her shooting.