USC Annenberg faculty discuss Gabrielle Giffords' role in the gun control debate

KPCC AirTalk hosted USC Annenberg communication professor Tom Hollihan and adjunct professor Nancy Snow to discuss the potential political and public impact of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' plea before the Senate to end gun violence.

"She is what I would consider a living symbol of the sacrifice that some people make because of the access to handguns in this country," said Hollihan of Giffords, a victim of the 2011 shooting in Tuscon, Ariz., that left her permanently handicapped. 

"I do think that a person like this can make a difference," he said. "What we know about public issues like this is that people need poignant moments in which something truly significant happens in order for them to pay attention to them." 

Snow, who questioned whether the congresswoman's comments would prove strong enough to effectively mobilize Americans to come out in support of gun control, called Giffords' influence "a bit limited."

"She’s a very powerful, persuasive speaker and obviously with the halting speech it was very emotionally gripping," she said. "But will it really move the needle on gun control? Will it get more people who were conflicted to say, 'Yes we need more regulation, yes we need to get more guns out of the American culture?' I’m not so sure about that."

Listen to the full discussion here.