Release: Mark Kelly, Veterans Announce “Veterans for Responsible Solutions”

122 veterans join Captain Mark Kelly and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords to launch group committed to reducing gun violence and defending the Constitution.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of Veteran’s Day, Americans for Responsible Solutions – founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and retired combat veteran and astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly – announced the formation of Veterans for Responsible Solutions, a national constituency of retired flag officers and senior officers, and former enlisted service members of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The group – which begins with 122 former service members from all branches and ranks – will support responsible gun ownership policies and measures to reduce gun violence. Interested veterans can join online: action.americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/veterans

Founding members of Veterans of Responsible Solutions include five retired flag officers, including a two-star general, senior enlisted leaders, and a US Navy SEAL. Veterans of the Iraq War, Afghanistan War, Vietnam War, Korean War, and World War II are represented.

The list of the founding members of Veterans for Responsible Solutions is available online: http://action.americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/veterans-list.

The audio recording of today’s launch call is available for download here: http://action.americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/veterans-call.

On a press call today, Captain Kelly and other founding members of Veterans for Responsible Solutions shared their perspectives on reducing gun violence from the standpoint of their military service:

“As service members in a war zone, each of us had to pass a background check to carry our guns, and we were committed to the responsible use of our weapons. We defended both the Constitution and the homeland. Now we’re asking Congress to protect our rights and families by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill,” said Navy Capt. Mark Kelly (Ret.).

“As people who work hard to protect us, veterans know it’s important to work together to protect both our rights and the security of our communities,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  “I am deeply honored to have such accomplished members of our military family – American heroes – standing with us in this fight.”

“It’s my honor to stand with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Navy Captain Mark Kelly as it is past time for Congress to act,” said Major General Vance Coleman, US Army (Ret.), who served as an artillery officer in the Korean War and served in the Kentucky National Guard“Guns themselves are not the problem and we believe in the Second Amendment, but I believe we can also come together and pass laws that protect our communities from those who shouldn’t have guns.”

“I stand with Gabby and Mark as a veteran for responsible solutions. As someone who respects our strong tradition of firearms, especially when it comes to protecting our great nation, I believe those rights come with great responsibility,” said Rear Admiral James A. Barnett, US Navy (Ret.), a retired surface warfare officer, Admiral Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the United States Navy and Navy Reserve.

“I am proud to be a part of this dialogue – for the vulnerable populations who have little or no voice. I am happy to join the other veterans and many others in the United States – across many disciplines and backgrounds – who have said that there is a line that can be crossed, and it’s when our most vulnerable populations are confronted by people who really should not have a weapon in their hands due to their inability to make appropriate judgments and to their history of demonstrated violence,” said Captain Gail Kulisch, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), who served 28 years in the United States Coast Guard and helped lead response and recovery operations for Ground Zero after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

“I served in Iraq and led a team of over a 180 men and women. All of us were armed, we went through annual weapons training, and we’d all been vetted in one form or another with background checks. We were shot at daily. So obviously I’m a strong proponent of carrying arms in the correct manner and the Second Amendment. But there needs to be background checks and accountability. There are people in our nation who quite simply should not have access to weapons,” said former Major Mike Almy, U.S. Air Force, who gave 13 years of service, including four deployments to the Middle East.

The launch of Veterans for Responsible Solutions comes after leading veterans joined 100,000 ARS members calling on Congress to take action to reduce gun violence following the tragic mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, which left 12 dead.