obama guns in america town hall mark kelly ac 11_00000227.jpg
CNN
obama guns in america town hall mark kelly ac 11_00000227.jpg
Now playing
01:18
Mark Kelly: How would government take 350M guns?
gun violence town hall reaction origwx jm_00034803.jpg
gun violence town hall reaction origwx jm_00034803.jpg
Now playing
04:28
How the conversation continued after the guns town hall
US President Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting with CNN's Anderson Cooper on reducing gun violence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 7, 2016. Obama announced limited measures two days ago to tackle rampant US gun violence and called on Americans to punish lawmakers who oppose more meaningful reforms.   AFP PHOTO/ NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting with CNN's Anderson Cooper on reducing gun violence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 7, 2016. Obama announced limited measures two days ago to tackle rampant US gun violence and called on Americans to punish lawmakers who oppose more meaningful reforms. AFP PHOTO/ NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:55
The 'Guns in America' town hall in under 2 minutes
obama guns in america title guns like cars gun tech  town hall ac 08_00003810.jpg
CNN
obama guns in america title guns like cars gun tech town hall ac 08_00003810.jpg
Now playing
03:18
Why can't we title guns just like cars?
obama guns in america crying newtown shooting town hall ac 07_00011622.jpg
obama guns in america crying newtown shooting town hall ac 07_00011622.jpg
Now playing
01:44
Obama on Newtown: Only time I've seen Secret Service cry
obama guns in america tre bosley chicago town hall ac 10_00000612.jpg
CNN
obama guns in america tre bosley chicago town hall ac 10_00000612.jpg
Now playing
02:29
Obama's advice to teen who lost brother to gun violence
CNN
Now playing
02:32
President Obama: Yes, 'plot' notion is a conspiracy
obama guns in america taya kyle town hall ac 04_00000229.jpg
CNN
obama guns in america taya kyle town hall ac 04_00000229.jpg
Now playing
02:12
Taya Kyle: Why don't we celebrate lower murder rate?
CNN
Now playing
00:49
President Obama: 'I have never owned a gun'
CNN
Now playing
02:19
President Obama: I've been good for gun sales
CNN
Now playing
01:33
Obama: I'm happy to talk to the NRA about guns
CNN
Now playing
01:25
Obama: Guns should be safe like everything else
CNN
Now playing
03:31
President Obama: We can't make it so easy for criminals
US President Barack Obama walks to greet Taya Kyle, widow of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, made famous by the film "American Sniper," during a commercial break at a town hall meeting with CNN's Anderson Cooper on reducing gun violence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 7, 2016. Obama announced limited measures two days ago to tackle rampant US gun violence and called on Americans to punish lawmakers who oppose more meaningful reforms.   AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama walks to greet Taya Kyle, widow of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, made famous by the film "American Sniper," during a commercial break at a town hall meeting with CNN's Anderson Cooper on reducing gun violence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 7, 2016. Obama announced limited measures two days ago to tackle rampant US gun violence and called on Americans to punish lawmakers who oppose more meaningful reforms. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:32
Critics: Obama 'divisive,' 'disappointing' in town hall
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05:  With tears running down his cheeks, U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and about his efforts to increase federal gun control in the East Room of the White House January 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. Without approval from Congress, Obama is sidestepping the legislative process with executive actions to expand background checks for some firearm purchases and step up federal enforcement of existing gun laws.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: With tears running down his cheeks, U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and about his efforts to increase federal gun control in the East Room of the White House January 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. Without approval from Congress, Obama is sidestepping the legislative process with executive actions to expand background checks for some firearm purchases and step up federal enforcement of existing gun laws. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:13
Obama: Gun sales restrictions are "common-sense steps"
Recording clean translation of President Obama's gun control statement.
CNNe
Recording clean translation of President Obama's gun control statement.
Now playing
01:31
What Obama's executive actions on guns will do
obama crying gun executive action sot_00004809.jpg
CNN
obama crying gun executive action sot_00004809.jpg
Now playing
01:54
President Obama sheds tears during gun speech
Barack Obama gun announcement lv_00043110.jpg
CNN
Barack Obama gun announcement lv_00043110.jpg
Now playing
05:16
Obama lists new gun control measures
Recording clean translation of President Obama's gun control statement.
CNNe
Recording clean translation of President Obama's gun control statement.
Now playing
01:15
Obama unveils executive action on guns
BB Gun
Shutterstock
BB Gun
Now playing
01:37
Obama to sign executive action on guns
US President Barack Obama speaks with Attorney Genral Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 4, 2016.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks with Attorney Genral Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 4, 2016.
Now playing
01:17
Obama to expand gun background checks
obama guns control executive order sot_00000714.jpg
CNN
obama guns control executive order sot_00000714.jpg
Now playing
01:35
Obama: Gun control executive action legal
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks after a national security team meeting at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia, December 17, 2015.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks after a national security team meeting at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia, December 17, 2015.
Now playing
01:29
What would Obama's executive action on guns look like?
trump ms rally obama guns mattingly lok_00000924.jpg
trump ms rally obama guns mattingly lok_00000924.jpg
Now playing
01:04
Trump sets sites on Obama gun control plans
Obama insane guns terrorist San Bernardino sot_00000000.jpg
The White House
Obama insane guns terrorist San Bernardino sot_00000000.jpg
Now playing
00:53
Obama: This is insane
AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:25
Trump: Obama against the Second Amendment

Story highlights

Mark Kelly: There is a vocal majority in our country that is demanding action to prevent needless gun tragedies

We are prepared to fight the new administration and the new Congress on policies that threaten our communities, he says

Editor’s Note: Capt. Mark Kelly is a United States Navy combat veteran, retired NASA astronaut, and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

(CNN) —  

I flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm and left our planet four times in a spaceship. I always thought I had a risky job. But it wasn’t until my wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was nearly assassinated that I learned she had faced a more present danger.

Since that horrible day six years ago, I’ve also learned a lot about life and about second chances.

Captain Mark Kelly
courtesy of Captain Mark Kelly
Captain Mark Kelly

Nearly all people who experience the kind of injury Gabby suffered – a bullet to the head at near point-blank range – die. And those who do not die often have personalities and cognitive abilities that are drastically changed.

But Gabby lived.

Gabby was given another chance at life – and at service. So this fall, we traveled across the country to campaign for candidates up and down the ballot who have supported common-sense gun violence prevention policies.

We met some really interesting people along the way – gun owners, law enforcement officers, veterans – and we learned that they, too, are fed up with our nation’s gun violence crisis.

How dangerous is this crisis? Every year, about 33,000 Americans die from gun violence. Americans are nearly 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other high-income peer countries.

Fortunately, there is a vocal majority in our country that is demanding action to prevent needless gun tragedies that claim innocent lives.

This November, we saw voters support gun violence prevention candidates for Congress, most notably in New Hampshire’s Senate race, where Gov. Maggie Hassan defeated incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Our organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, launched an aggressive campaign to hold Sen. Ayotte accountable for her poor record on gun safety.

In tight congressional races like Nevada’s 4th and Florida’s 7th Congressional Districts, gun violence prevention candidates ran – and won – on strengthening gun laws. In fact, 73% of our endorsed candidates won, and voters in three states – Nevada, Washington, and California – approved gun safety ballot measures in greater numbers than votes in those states for Hillary Clinton, showing this issue is compelling to people across the political spectrum.

In the wake of the 2016 election, we at Americans for Responsible Solutions are redoubling our commitment to preventing gun tragedies that occur every day in this country.

First, in the days after the election we launched the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce (FACT), comprised of the country’s top law firms. These firms are devoting hundreds of lawyers, thousands of hours, and millions of dollars, pro bono, to taking action against dangerous gun policies and holding the corporate gun lobby accountable for unlawful business practices that endanger public safety. Borrowing from successful impact litigation movements to achieve marriage equality, make automobiles safer, and hold Big Tobacco accountable, we are going on offense to create safer communities.

Second, we will be prepared to fight the new administration and the new Congress on policies that threaten our communities. The gun lobby is seeking to allow guns into schools – an issue education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos expressed support for during her Senate confirmation hearing just this week.

They’re also pushing to ignore states’ rights by mandating the unrestricted “concealed carry” of firearms and allow free access to dangerous silencers, which would let criminals conceal murder and introduce a menacing new threat to our communities. These policies are a public safety threat, as the son of two New Jersey police officers, I believe law enforcement will not stand for them.

Third, we will elect more gun violence prevention champions and fight for gun safety policies in 2018 and 2020. To do this, we will continue to reach out to nontraditional allies, including rural and independent voters who support commonsense solutions to our gun violence problem. We know that a plurality of rural voters who helped propel President Trump to victory want stronger gun laws. And we will do everything in our power to engage these constituencies.

In addition to communicating with voters about their candidate choices, we will also begin addressing more fundamental attitudes about the safety of firearms and the responsibility of owning them – because the critical fights over policy and politics must not come at the expense of a meaningful conversation about culture.

Finally, we will work with anyone who is committed to making our families safer – including President Trump. Although the gun lobby spent a record $30 million supporting his campaign, Donald Trump has recognized and endorsed some new measures to reduce gun violence. Even his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose nomination has been strongly supported by the gun lobby, has acknowledged that we need to do a better job of enforcing our nation’s existing federal gun laws. We firmly believe that keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, like suspected terrorists, domestic abusers, and gun traffickers, shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

Gabby and I returned to public service in the hopes that we could save lives by bringing Americans together around responsible, commonsense gun