MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A woman who has become the voice of gun violence prevention made a stop in Minneapolis Monday.
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords kicked off a panel discussion that focused on the need for better laws to protect women from gun violence.
The group included Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau and local domestic violence prevention advocates.
The former Congresswoman was shot in the head in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011.
Giffords retired a year later and now, as she continues to recover, travels the country encouraging people to find ways to make their communities safer.
That shooting was almost four years ago, and Giffords still walks with a cane, but she’s clearly quite strong again.
Her visit to the Harriet Tubman Center in Minneapolis is part of a national tour–the sixth stop out of nine cities.
All of the events bring together women to find ways to reduce the number of women who are injured or killed by people with guns.
Giffords has a powerful presence, a warm smile and a determined spirit.
She was the first to speak at the roundtable discussion.
“Stalkers with guns, abusers with guns, criminals with guns,” she said, “make gun violence a women’s issue for mothers, for families, for me and you.”
Giffords listened as others shared ideas.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said she’d like to see tougher laws to protect women seeking a restraining order.
“We know that people are more vulnerable at some times than others,” Harteau said. “So when it is the heat of the moment, or that time of applying for [a restraining order]–that is when women are most vulnerable.”
Beverly Dusso, the president of the Harriet Tubman Center, said that while Minnesota has gun laws in place, they are often inconsistent.
“One of the things we are interested in is looking at domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, exploitation and labor trafficking,” she said, adding that the group wants to “see if we can make [laws] more uniform, easier to administer.”
Giffords’ visit concluded with a ride-along with Harteau and a visit to a shelter for women.
“Women can lead the way,” Giffords said. “We stand for common sense, we stand for responsibility. We can change our laws, we can win elections.”
Giffords is the co-founder of a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions.
The group highlights the fact that women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be killed by a person with a gun than women in other developed nations.
On Monday, the Minneapolis police chief announced the launch of the Minnesota chapter of the Protecting All Women Leadership Network.
This group will continue to meet and eventually share ideas with state lawmakers.
Giffords’ staff said she is still in speech and physical therapy. She does yoga and rides a recumbent bike. She’s traveling a lot and her health is improving.