National gun control tour stops in St. Pete
The heroic Arizona congresswoman who made it back to speak at the Democratic Convention after being shot in 2011 wasn't there. Neither was her astronaut husband.
But Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly's national get-out-the-vote tour in support of toughening gun laws made a midday stop at St. Petersburg's City Hall Thursday.
Mayor Rick Kriseman noted the wax stains of candles burned on the steps of City Hall during a vigil for the victims of Orland's Pulse nightclub shooting in June. He compared them to what he said were the blood-stained hands of National Rifle Association lobbyists and the politicians who go along with the powerful group's agenda.
Kriseman said nine people had been killed by guns in St. Petersburg so far this year. And 276 guns have been stolen.
If you don't lock up your guns, homes and cars, the mayor said, you arre feeing the violence.
"You are not a responsible gun owner," Kriseman said. "You are part of the problem."
Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman recited a list of gun-violence victims, ending with her 21-year-old son, Cabretti Wheeler, who was killed in 2008.
She called for tougher background checks.
Council chairwoman Amy Foster said the Pulse victims deserve more than candlelight vigils.
"We must honor those victims. Not just with our prayers, but honoring those people who were tragically taken too soon with meaningful action that saves lives," Foster said.
Council members Jim Kennedy and Darden Rice also attended the event.
Democratic 13th District congressional candidate Charlie Crist wasn't on the list of speakers, but came to voice his support.
Crist said he's a hunter and a gun owner, but wants pragmatic solutions to lower gun violence. He said Congress should approve a ban on assault weapons.
"That's an obvious, common-sense measure,' Crist said.
Crist's opponent, incumbent Republican David Jolly, doesn't support an assault weapoon ban, but has called for toughening some gun restrictions like banning those on no-fly lists from buying guns.
Giffords and husband Mark Kelly appeared with the bus tour earlier this week in Orlando. They attended the Pulse memorial with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine on Monday.
The couple will rejoin the tour soon, said spokeswoman Lauren North, citing time constraints.
The bus tour will visit more than 40 cities in 14 states between now and Election Day. Although not directly affiliated with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, it is a get-out-the-vote effort roudly supportive of her candidacy, said North.