Gabby Giffords in Iowa: Gun violence is a women’s issue

Gabby Giffords in Iowa: Gun violence is a women’s issue 

The Des Moines Register

By Sharyn Jackson

October 22, 2014- Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made the case that gun violence is a women’s issue at a Tuesday roundtable with Iowa leaders working in law enforcement and domestic violence prevention.

Giffords, who was critically injured in a 2011 assassination attempt, came to Des Moines halfway through a nine-state tour to rally women in the fight for gun reform.

”Women can lead the way,” she said, slowly. ”We stand for common sense.”

On Jan. 8, 2011, the Arizona congresswoman was at a public event near Tucson to meet with constituents when a man opened fire, shooting Giffords in the head, injuring 13 others and killing six. Giffords remains partly paralyzed. Her speech is slurred, but clear.

Since the shooting, Giffords has become one of the country’s foremost gun reform advocates. But federal legislation imposing stricter regulations on gun ownership has failed, even after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

Giffords spoke once Tuesday, in her opening remarks. She told the group of 17 leaders, all women, that criminals, abusers and stalkers who have access to guns are a threat to women and families.

State Rep. Marti Anderson, D-Des Moines, then moderated the discussion, asking questions of attendees who represented the Iowa Department of Public Health, the FBI and the Iowa Department of Public Safety, as well as several nonprofits and coalitions against violence.

Anderson described the intersection of guns and domestic violence as a ”lethal combination.”

The group discussed ways to approach gun owners about the issues of gun violence and reform. ”This conversation has been divisive,” said Hayley Zachary, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the organization founded by Giffords and her husband, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.

”None of the policies that we advocate threaten” the right to own guns, Zachary said. ”The question is, what are the pillars of responsible gun ownership?”

A 2010 state law restricts domestic abusers from possessing firearms. But advocates at the roundtable said more can be done, including extending that law to dating partners.

Anderson said she plans on convening the group again to continue the discussion.

”Sitting next to Gabby Giffords, a woman of high resiliency, high courage and public service, renews me to fight this issue at the state level,” Anderson said.

Ellyn Grimm, Iowa chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said Giffords is an ”inspirational” leader for women in Iowa.

”She’s been through what most of us would consider our worst nightmare,” Grimm said, ”and she’s risen above it.”

Giffords’ next stop on the Protect All Women tour is Portland, Ore.

Giffords seeks to make gun violence a women’s issue

Giffords seeks to make gun violence a women’s issue 


By John Croman

October 21, 2014- Gabrielle Giffords, perhaps the nation’s most famous gun violence survivor, is hoping to united women around the issue of keeping firearms out of the hands of stalkers and domestic abusers.

The former Arizona Congresswoman took part in a women’s domestic violence round table discussion Monday at the Harriet Tubman Center in Minneapolis, and event co-hosted by Chief Janee Harteau.

”Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women — stalkers with guns, abusers with guns, criminals with guns,” Giffords said to the group, reading from a statement she had written.

”That makes gun violence a women’s issue, for mothers, for families, for me and you. Women can lead the way.”

Giffords spent the rest of the meeting listening to women who work in women’s shelters, law enforcement, and gun violence prevention in the Twin Cities area. Several expressed frustration that guns are so easily accessible and revered in American culture.

”The mere presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk a woman will die by five times,” Chief Harteau said to the panel.

”From 2003 to 2012 265 women were killed in Minnesota alone, and guns were used in 53 percent of those cases.”

Giffords’ congressional career was cut short in 2011 when she suffered a severe brain injury in a mass shooting in Tucson. Six people died in the attack at Gifford’s Congress on Your Corner event, while Giffords and 12 others survived.

She has slowly regained her cognitive and speaking skills, and has learned to walk again using a cane.

Since then Giffords co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions with her husband, astronaut and retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, in an effort to find gun control initiatives that most firearms owners would endorse.

Harteau urged other panelists to join her in forming a Minnesota chapter of Gifford’s Protect All Women Leadership Network.

”On every domestic violence 9-1-1 call, we no longer ask. ‘Are there weapons in the home?’ We ask, ‘Are their guns in the home. Does the suspect have access to guns’?” Harteau said to reporters after the meeting ended.

Since August 1st Minnesota law has required gun owners who become subject to court-imposed domestic protection order to transfer possession of their firearms to a gun dealer, local police or a friend or relative who doesn’t live under the same roof.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar has a bill in the hopper that would deny new weapons to stalkers, and expand domestic protections to situations where the victim and suspect had a dating relationship.

The police chief took Giffords on a tour of the city, which included a stop at a shelter for battered women and their children.

”I realize there are things probably bigger than this group that we can’t take on, but I think we can focus on what we as individuals and collectively as a group can actually accomplish towards having an impact on domestic gun violence,” Harteau said.

The Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance of Minnesota issues a press release criticizing Giffords for not publicizing her event ahead of time.

The group’s founder, Hamline University professor Joseph Olson said gun control opponents always outnumber supporters at public hearings when they have adequate notice, citing legislative hearings in 2013 and 2014 at the State Capitol.

The group’s president, Andrew Rothman, said Giffords is part of a long string of out-of-state players trying to promote a gun control agenda in Minnesota.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Portland, declared gun violence a ‘women’s issue’

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Portland, declared gun violence a ‘women’s issue’

The Oregonian

By Bryan Denson

October 21, 2014- Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt during a mass shooting at an Arizona supermarket in 2011, told a roundtable of women leaders in Portland on Tuesday that gun violence is a ”women’s issue.”

”Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women,” she said in the magazine production room at Grant High School. ”Criminals with guns. Stalkers with guns. Abusers with guns. That makes gun violence a women’s issue. For mothers. For families. For you and me. Women can lead the way. We stand for common sense. We stand for responsibility.”

”Together we can change our laws,” she said, slurring slightly. ”Together we can win elections. Please join your voice with mine.”

Giffords, who is 44 and now walks with the use of a cane, was preaching to the choir. The room at Grant was choked with domestic violence experts, elected officials and federal law enforcement.

Tuesday’s visit in Portland was the eighth leg of Giffords’ nine-city Protect All Women tour. She appears in Seattle on Wednesday.

The tour was not intended as a partisan event for or against gun ownership.

Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark E. Kelly, both own firearms and strongly support Americans’ constitutional rights to bear arms. After the shooting that nearly took her life, Giffords, who previously shot with her right hand, learned to shoot left-handed.

While most of the group – 19 women and one man – seem to come to the conclusion that gun violence is a public health issue, it was clear some sought more restrictive laws on gun purchases and ownership.

Amanda Marshall, the U.S. attorney for Oregon, noted that polarizing the issue into pro-gun or anti-gun wasn’t the way to reach those caught in the middle.

”You’d be surprised what sets off the Second Amendment activists,” Marshall said, noting that many in the state hold strong opinions about gun rights. ”We’re just here to provide facts.”

The events are designed to bring women together to discuss what can be done to protect women and their families from gun violence and embolden women to reduce firearms injuries in their communities.

The evening event brought a diverse group of women’s political, law enforcement and domestic-abuse prevention leaders to the table. They included Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack; state Rep. Barbara Smith Warner; Marshall; Colene Domenech, a supervisor for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Vanessa Timmons, executive director of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.

Giffords retired from politics in January 2012, a week into her third term, after a mass shooting outside a supermarket near Tucson.

On Jan. 8, 2011, the Arizona Democrat was shot in the head with a 9mm slug as she met with constituents outside a Safeway in Casas Adobes. The bullets fired by gunman Jared Lee Loughner’s Glock handgun killed six people and injured 13 others.

Loughner is serving life without parole at a highly secure medical prison in Springfield, Missouri.

In Iowa, Gabby Giffords calls on women to highlight gun violence

In Iowa, Gabby Giffords calls on women to highlight gun violence 

The Associated Press

By Steve Peoples

October 21, 2014- Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords charged Tuesday that ”dangerous people with guns are a threat to women” as she worked to rally female voters across Iowa and inject gun control into one of the nation’s marquee Senate contests.

”Women can lead the way,” Giffords told domestic violence leaders gathered in Iowa’s capital city during a 43-second speech that was halting and slurred at moments, but largely clear. ”We can change our laws. We can change elections.”

The Iowa stop comes as Giffords nears the end of a two-week national tour that also includes a series of roundtable meetings in Minnesota, Oregon and Washington State this week alone.

The Arizona Democrat has become the reluctant face of the gun control movement, having been shot through the head as she met with constituents outside a grocery store almost four years ago. The attacker killed six and left Giffords with permanent brain damage.

Fighting speech problems and partial paralysis, she has pushed Congress unsuccessfully to expand background checks for all gun purchases and suffered similar disappointment in state capitals. Now, two weeks from the nation’s midterm election, Giffords is simply fighting to ensure gun violence isn’t completely forgotten this fall.

She delivered the opening remarks at an hour-long discussion focused on tightening state and federal laws that allow those with domestic violence or stalking convictions to buy guns.

Iowa state Rep. Marti Anderson described guns and domestic violence as ”a lethal combination” and offered a message to worried gun owners: ”I’m not going to take your guns away. But if you hurt somebody you’ve pledged to love, your guns are going away.”

There was little direct talk of the midterm elections at the Iowa event, although Giffords’ organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is backing Iowa’s Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley’s Senate bid against GOP state Sen. Joni Ernst. The group is also running ads against Republican congressional candidate David Young in Iowa’s 3rd district.

None of the congressional candidates appeared with Giffords on Tuesday.

Braley adviser Jeff Link said Braley was not distancing himself from Giffords, but was instead focused on first lady Michelle Obama’s Tuesday visit to the state. Link noted that Giffords was a featured guest last year at a large Braley fundraiser.

”There are a lot of things going on in the race and a lot of things competing for time and attention,” Link said.

He suggested that gun control may become one of Braley’s focuses in the coming days. ”I think we’ll bring it up in a variety of ways,” Link said.

Giffords’ camp says the tour is designed, at least in part, to energize women in Iowa and elsewhere who are often more willing to support tighter gun laws than men. A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll this month found that nearly half of likely female voters in Iowa support more restrictive laws to keep guns away from criminals, while just a third of men feel the same way.

”Women can lead the way,” Giffords said. ”We stand for common sense.”

Gabby Giffords: Join your voice with mine

Gabby Giffords: Join your voice with mine

The Intelligencer

By Marion Callahan

October 17, 2014- In a dramatic appeal, with difficulty speaking, wounded former Democratic U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle ”Gabby” Giffords urged women’s advocates to help enact tougher curbs on guns, saying, ”Together, we can change our lives. Join your voice with mine.”

The gun-control advocate and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions appeared in Bensalem on Friday at a roundtable discussion with 10 Bucks County domestic violence prevention advocates and women leaders.

After being badly wounded in an assassination attempt in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six people, Giffords became an advocate for gun control.

”Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women,” Giffords said Friday. ”Criminals with guns, abusers with guns, stalkers with guns — make gun violence a women’s issue and family issue, too,” she said. ”We stand for common sense and we stand for responsibility.”

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, who spoke at the roundtable, said: ”Whenever we can get together and talk about how to make communities safer, particularly (for) women and families, it’s worth the effort. Giffords is the example and the epitome of a woman harmed by violence; more importantly, she’s a woman who has the strength to carry on and bring forth ideas to make our communities safer for others.”

Giffords is still recovering from the January 2011 gunshot wound she received while meeting with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. She resigned from Congress to focus on her recovery and rehabilitation.

Mark Prentice, spokesman for Americans for Responsible Solutions, outlined a few of the laws Giffords would like to see changed.

Under the current system, he said: ”An individual who is convicted of domestic abuse could buy a gun at a gun show or online without a background check.”

Giffords wants to close these and other loopholes that allow people who are federally prohibited from owning firearms — including convicted felons and people who’ve been determined by the courts to be mentally ill — from purchasing guns, he said.

She would also like to see lawmakers close what was called the ”stalker gap.” If someone has been convicted of felony stalking, that individual cannot purchase or legally own a gun, Prentice said. However, he added, someone who has been convicted of misdemeanor stalking can pass a background check and buy a gun.

”We would like to see those who are convicted of misdemeanor stalking prevented from accessing firearms,” he said.

Haley Zachary, also with Giffords’ ARS group, said the campaign isn’t about restricting gun use for most gun owners. ”This is about common sense solutions that affect a very small slice of the population of gun owners,” she said.

Nancy Gordon, president of CeaseFire Pennsylvania, urged people to take action by educating themselves on the view of those who represent them on the state and local levels.

”Anyone who cares about reducing gun violence should be aware of their state and federal representatives’ position on sensible gun laws — both for the upcoming election and afterward, while these legislators are representing them,” Gordon said.

Pennsylvania is among nine states on Giffords’ ”Protect All Women Tour,” which kicked off earlier this month. She is also scheduled to meet with domestic violence prevention advocates in Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon and Washington state.

The tour is aimed at raising awareness about the “lethal mix” of gun violence and domestic violence in the United States, according to a release from the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC.

Before she left the event on Friday, Giffords clutched the hand of Karen Forbes, thanking her for supporting the cause.

Forbes, executive director of the YWCA Bucks County, said women in her organization and across the county are seeking empowerment, and Giffords exemplified that.

”We are bringing together powerful women who can absolutely do something about keeping women safe so they can achieve their goals,” Forbes said.

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