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Gabby Giffords visits first gun show since near-fatal shooting

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords made her first visit to a gun show since she was shot in 2011, attending a New York event Sunday with her husband, Mark Kelly, and the state's attorney general.

It was no casual trip to the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair, but part of a political tour to showcase New York's aggressive policing of buyers at gun shows.

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"The state's model helps keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them -- like criminals and the dangerously mentally ill -- without infringing on our 2nd Amendment rights," said Kelly, who helps run the couple's gun-control political-action group, Americans for Responsible Solutions.

"This is a chance for Gabby and me to visit New York's largest arms fair and highlight this background-checks system, which we believe can serve as a template for gun shows around the country," he said.

Giffords was near-fatally wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left her with brain injuries. In all, six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Giffords.

A highly public road to partial recovery has brought Giffords and her husband, both gun owners, to the forefront of a renewed campaign to bolster gun-control rules across the U.S. The effort ultimately stalled in Congress this year after aggressive counter-lobbying by the National Rifle Assn. and other groups.

"Here in New York, we have chosen a different path," state Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement. "By working in cooperation with gun-show operators, we have crafted Model Gun Show Procedures that have closed the gun-show loophole in New York. Everyone agrees on the need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill."

"Everyone agrees" may be a bit strong: An eight-month investigation by the attorney general's office in 2011 found gun-show dealers allegedly trying to evade the state's laws requiring background checks for buyers. At least 10 sellers faced criminal charges.

What was thought to have been a statutorily closed loophole was, in practice, still open.

That led the attorney general to pursue more aggressive practices with the state's gun-show owners, including a policy to "tag" guns that go into a show to ensure better tracking.

The attorney general's office says a background check is now conducted on "virtually every" gun sold at New York gun shows, with nearly three dozen gun-show owners, running 80 shows, having signed the protocols.

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