TRENTON — Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords visited the statehouse today to deliver a message on gun violence and its effect on the lives of women in America: it’s a threat.
“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women,” Giffords said, offering a few brief remarks during a roundtable discussion guns and domestic violence along with state Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-38), Assemblywoman Gabriel Mosquera (D-4), and other women advocates from across the state.
A member of the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2012, where she represented Arizona’s 8th district, Giffords has become a leading advocate of greater gun restrictions over the last few years after being critically wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. The experience nearly cost her her life, losing some of her ability to speak, write, and walk.
But Giffords has since gone on to champion gun control laws on the national stage, co-founding the advocacy group Americans for Responsible Solutions. The nonprofit has helped lobby for greater firearm restrictions in her home state and others — including in New Jersey, where legislation is pending in the Assembly (A-4218) that would require domestic abusers to surrender their firearms while a domestic violence restraining order is in effect, or when they are convicted of a domestic violence crimes.
“This is not a gun rights issue. This is about keeping guns away from individuals who have shown a propensity for violence against women,” Mosquera, the legislation’s sponsor, said.
By turns, roundtable speakers, including representatives from the Rutgers Center on Violence Against Women and Children, Camden County’s Women Center, Jersey Battered Women’s Service, and NJ Women in Law Enforcement, explained how people have “shut their eyes” to the role firearm abuse plays in domestic violence situations.
“For me, it’s about protecting those individuals and giving them the tools to survive, giving them the tools to move on with their lives,” Mosquera, who said she’s experience first hand violence in the home as the child of a domestic abuse victim, said. “We have the right as individuals to walk around this world without fear of physicals harm, threats. Gun violence is wrong. It’s wrong.”
Weinberg, echoing advocates for greater gun control in situations of domestic violence, said women in the U.S. are 11 times likely to be murdered with a gun than women in peer countries, more than half of all murders of women are committed with a gun, and abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser has access to a firearm.
“For mothers, for families, for me and you, women can lead the way,” Giffords said. “We stand for commons sense. We stand for responsibility. We can sign laws, we can win elections.”
Giffords was asked to come promote the issue last year by Weinberg and Mosquera, but the visit didn’t pan out. She made the trip today after a tour of Connecticut earlier this week.