Giffords’ Group Plans To Engage In Ohio Gun Debate

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UPDATED: Friday July 26, 2013 5:45 PM

A respected congresswoman who survived an assassination attempt is leading a new group that she says is pushing for gun responsibility but not gun control with offices opening soon in Columbus and Cleveland.

"We're basically organizing at the local level," said Pia Carusone, executive director and founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions.  "We're growing our lists.  We have over 18,000 Ohioans so far that have joined Americans for Responsible Solutions and donated to the organization but we need to grow well beyond that."

Carusone says former congresswoman Gabby Gifford's super PAC raised over $6.5 million during the first half of this year alone.

Giffords, and her husband Mark Kelly, started the organization in response to the Newtown tragedy, where 26 children and educators were killed.

"We believe in the Second Amendment, but we're not extreme or radical in any sense," said Carusone.  "We're here representing the middle."

The middle is not an easy place when it comes to gun issues in Ohio.

Republican lawmakers are heavily backed by the gun lobby, and former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in 2010.

The first showdown for Giffords' group at the statehouse could be over a bill that would bring the Florida Stand Your Ground bill to Ohio.

"Absolutely, we would support the Stand Your Ground bill," said Gerard Valentino of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation.  "If more people would look at the Stand Your Ground law and what it really does, instead of assuming what it does, most Ohioans would support it."

Carusone says her organization has not looked at the proposed bill yet, but their goal is to make sure all Ohio voices are heard on the issue.

"If the gun lobby is deciding to put a lot of effort and time into passing these laws, we'll probably be there to offer the other side of the coin," said Carusone.

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