Gabby Giffords Says Gun Violence Is a Women's Issue

Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, firmly lamented gun violence as a women’s issue as their political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, gears up to support candidates in the 2014 midterm elections.

Giffords and Kelly visited the Hearst headquarters in New York on Monday morning to speak with Ellen Levine, editorial director of Hearst magazines. During their presentation they revealed a number of startling facts: American women are eleven times more likely to be killed by guns than in any other high-income country, and every month, nearly 50 women are shot to death by a current or former partner. The campaign by Americans For Responsible Solutions intends to reduce gun violence and support candidates that advocate for stricter gun control. 

Giffords prepared her own statement and said:

Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. Criminals with guns, stalkers with guns, abusers with guns: that makes gun violence a women’s issue. For our mothers, for our families, for me and you. Women can lead the way. We stand for common sense, we stand for possibilities. We can win elections. Please join your voice with mine.”

Giffords and Kelly listen to Ellen Levine. (Lucy Westcott / The Wire)

Americans For Responsible Solutions launched on Jan. 8, 2013, a few weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre, and nearly two years after the attempt on Giffords's life. Giffords, the youngest woman elected to the Arizona state senate, was shot in the head in January 2011 in Tucson, outside a Safeway supermarket. Six people died in the incident.

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“We founded this organization, ARS, because like millions of Americans, we were fed up with the problem of gun violence in our community,” Kelly said. “And Gabby, after what happened at Sandy Hook, said ‘Enough.’” Responsible gun owners are either left out of the discussion, or demonised when they’re included, Kelly said, leaving little room for any nuanced discussion on guns in America.

Last month, Politico's Jose Delreal reported that Americans For Responsible Solutions will support seven Senate races and four House races, including Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, as well as two Republicans. The group said they have raised $14.5 million so far, and aim to match the estimated $20 million the National Rifle Association spends each election cycle.  

But it's American women who are "disproportionately affected" by gun violence, Kelly said, and recent mass shootings like the Santa Barbara rampage last month only serves to strengthen his point. Kelly pointed out disturbing loopholes that allow some abusers to access guns. While domestic abusers are prohibited from buying guns, going to a gun show or buying a gun online bypasses the background check. And pleading to lesser charges like misdemeanor sexual assault, stalking, and harassment means you aren't prohibited from owning a firearm. Giffords and Kelly also support faster reporting of restraining orders, as it often takes a couple of weeks for an order to be recorded, allowing time for a gun purchase.

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Giffords also provided a brief update on her health as she continues her recovery from the shooting. She has been practicing yoga twice a week, is learning the French Horn, and is taking Spanish lessons, alongside speech therapy and biking. 

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