NYDailyNews: In a rare speaking appearance, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords told a rapt audience Monday that women are too often affected by gun violence but can “lead the way” in seeking new laws to reduce it.
“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women,” Giffords told about 100 employees of the Hearst Corp. at the company’s headquarters on W. 57th St. “Criminals with guns, stalkers with guns, abusers with gun that makes gun violence a women’s issue. For mothers, for families, for me and you.”
Giffords was grievously wounded by a gunshot to her head while holding a “Congress at your corner” event outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011. She resigned from Congress to focus on her recovery and rehabilitation, and has been an advocate for new gun control laws.
In her appearance, Giffords showed continued signs of improvement.
In an ABC News interview with Diane Sawyer in November 2011, Giffords gave one-word answers and appeared frustrated at the disconnect between her thoughts and what she was able to express.
On Monday, her ability to express herself was noticeably improved. Her speech was still halting and she twice relied on her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, to whisper a cue into her ear.
But she was able to read from a short prepared text and answer questions with some ease. “Women can lead the way,” Giffords said. “We can through common sense, we stand for responsibilities, we can win elections. Please join your voice with mine.”
Kelly, a former NASA shuttle pilot and naval aviator, said his wife had spent several weeks preparing her brief remarks.
When asked how she is feeling, Giffords answered for herself. “Pretty good,” she said, ticking off her weekly regimen, which she described as “yoga twice a week, French horn, Spanish lessons.”
Kelly reminded her of the latest step in her recovery: she has recently started riding a bike. “A bike!” she exclaimed.
At one point, Giffords interrupted Kelly to remind him of a point about gun trafficking, but he was not able to understand her. “Where?” he asked her. “Pierre.” Kelly paused for a moment to try and read her face. “We’ll figure that out later,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a few minutes for us to do this.” “Yes, yes,” she agreed, and smiled.
Giffords and Kelly last year founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a super PAC supporting congressional candidates committed to passing laws to reduce gun violence.
“If you would have told us a couple years ago that we’d run a super PAC, I’d say, ‘well I don’t really like super PACs, I don’t think they’re a good idea,’” Kelly said. “We realized we have to provide balance in something the gun lobby does, really, really well.”
Kelly said the impetus for the PAC was not Giffords’ own tragedy, but the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn. “After what happened in Sandy Hook — not after what happened to her — [we] said enough,” Kelly said.
On Monday, Kelly and Giffords highlighted how women are disproportionally affected by gun violence. “The sad truth in our country is American women are 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other high income countries,” Kelly said. “We’re trying to bring some balance back to our country’s discussion about guns.”
Wrapping up the hour-long event, Hearst Editorial Director Ellen Levine commented on the strong, supportive couple.
“I see the love between the two of you,” she said, as Giffords and Kelly reached to clasp each other’s hands. “That, I think, is another message for all of us.”
The audience gave them a standing ovation.
If anyone who calls for more gun control started with the gun violence in Chicago, I might take them seriously. Yet they ignore the killings that occur there every week, and the fact that Chicago has some of the strictest gun control measures in the nation – and it does nothing to stop gun violence. That little fact doesn’t fit their agenda.