July 05. 2013 4:45PM

Giffords, husband push for expanded gun background checks

MANCHESTER — Shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, urged Congress Friday to pass a law requiring expanded background checks for gun sales.

Kelly, a retired astronaut, said he and his wife had hoped to meet in New Hampshire with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H, who opposed a background-checks bill this spring, "but this is a complicated time of year for everybody, the Fourth of July."

Kelly said he talked with Ayotte, a key vote in defeating the measure, about a week ago. "It's a private conversation, but it was a good conversation about where we were going and what we were doing," he said at a news conference with law enforcement officials at the Millyard Museum in the Queen City.

Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman shot in the head in Tucson in a 2011, said people "must never stop fighting" to get guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

A handful of people, some with their firearms, protested outside and urged Giffords to go home.

Sen. Ayotte's spokesman Jeff Grappone did not have an immediate comment on Friday afternoon.