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Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Visits West Hartford on ‘Protect All Women’ Tour

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (center), Karen Jarmoc, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Submitted photo.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and local women Leaders at a roundtable discussion at Kingswood Oxford School to promote stronger laws that protect women from gun violence, respect gun rights.

Submitted release, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (center) at a roundtable discussion Thursday at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford. Submitted photo.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (center) at a roundtable discussion Thursday at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford. Submitted photo.

Speaking at a roundtable event Thursday in West Hartford, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said “women can lead the way” in the push for better laws that protect women and families from gun violence. Congresswoman Giffords was joined at the event by United States Sen. Richard Blumenthal and women in Connecticut’s law enforcement, domestic violence prevention, and gun violence prevention communities who focused on the need to close the loopholes that allows stalkers and domestic abusers to access guns.

Giffords, a gun owner herself, promotes solutions to gun violence that limit dangerous individuals like domestic abusers from access to guns, while respecting the rights and traditions of responsible, law-abiding citizens.

Sen. Blumenthal, a member of the Judiciary Committee, is the author of two bills to prevent gun violence against women and has consistently fought for policies that protect women in Connecticut and around the country from gun violence.

The event was the third stop in Congresswoman Giffords’ national, nine-state Protect All Women Tour highlighting the need for stronger state and federal laws that protect women and families from gun violence. The tour, which kicked off in Portland, Maine on Tuesday, ends Oct. 22, in Seattle, Washington.

In 2013, Congresswoman Giffords founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun violence prevention organization, along with her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, a retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut.

“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. That makes gun violence a women’s issue – for mothers, for families, for me and you,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in her speech at Thursday’s event. “Women can lead the way. Together, we can change our laws. Please, join your voice with mine.”

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (center), Karen Jarmoc, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Submitted photo.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (center), Exec. Dir. Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Karen Jarmoc, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Submitted photo.

“The horrific evils of gun violence and domestic violence are inextricably intertwined in a dangerous strand of death and destruction that must be fought together. Women are five times more likely to die from domestic abuse when guns are in the house. I will continue fighting for stronger legal safeguards and the resources law enforcement needs to protect abuse victims from gun violence,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “My bill named for Lori Jackson, a tragic victim in Oxford, would stop gun purchases or possession when judicial protective orders are issued – closing a current gaping loophole to help save others like Lori. The loophole leaves survivors most vulnerable when rage and danger are highest, during the first days when the protective order is temporary. Current laws are rife with faults that require reform. Congress’ continuing failure to enact common sense, sensible measures like universal background checks, bans on illegal gun trafficking and straw purchases, mental health initiatives, and the Lori Jackson measure, is making obstructionists effectively complicit in the growing epidemic of gun violence and domestic abuse. Courageous, crusading advocates like Gabby Giffords and the Newtown families inspire us to fight with redoubled dedication, men and women together, and never give up.”

“It was an honor to host Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and women leaders, domestic violence prevention advocates, and survivors from across Connecticut for an important discussion on how we can help protect women and families from gun violence,” said Karen Jarmoc, executive director, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Gun violence and domestic abuse are often lethal mix here in Connecticut and in communities across the country – and we know there are commonsense steps our leaders can take that would make women safer. That’s why it’s time for our leaders to act.”

Between 2000 and 2011, 175 people in the state of Connecticut were killed by an intimate partner, and 38 percent of these homicides were committed with a firearm. In 2010, more than 90 percent of Connecticut domestic violence homicide victims were women.

Nationally, women in the U.S. are 11 times likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. Abused women are also five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.

Federal, state and local laws intended to reduce domestic abusers’ access to guns include several major loopholes. While current federal law prohibits convicted domestic abusers and felony stalkers from legally buying guns, individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking are not prohibited from purchasing firearms; they can still pass a background check and buy a gun through the so-called ‘stalker gap’.

Although federal law prevents convicted domestic abusers from possessing and purchasing firearms, those protections do not extend to individuals who are in dating relationships. As a result, our nation’s gun laws do not generally restrict access to guns by people who have committed violent acts against dating partners if the couple has never married, lived together, or had a child together. In fact, in 2008, nearly half of all domestic violence homicides were committed against a current or former dating partner.

Additionally, convicted domestic abusers and felony stalkers (who are prohibited from possessing firearms) can evade federal and state law by purchasing a gun at a gun show or on the Internet, where the transaction does not require a background check.

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