Christine Stuart photo
Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords on Thursday urged Connecticut women to join her in standing up for common sense laws that keep guns out of the hands of abusers.

“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women,” Giffords told a group of female doctors, lawyers, and advocates against domestic violence. “Criminals with guns, abusers with guns, stalkers with guns that make gun violence a huge issue for mothers, for families, for me and you, women can lead the way. We stand up for common sense.”

Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting in Arizona that killed six people, urged the women who attended the gathering at Kingswood Oxford in West Hartford to “change our laws.”

Giffords’ visit Thursday was the third on her nine-state tour sponsored by Americans for Responsible Solutions, an advocacy organization she founded with her husband Mark Kelly. The organization seeks to encourage elected officials to stand up for both the 2nd Amendment and safer communities.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was one of the few men to attend the event, said it’s “unforgivable” that Congress hasn’t acted on universal background checks and legislation that aims to protect domestic violence victims who have a temporary restraining order against their abusers.

“You cannot be against domestic violence and fail to take a stand against gun violence,” Blumenthal said. “They are two heads of a single monster.”

Blumenthal told the women not to lose hope. He reminded them that it took 12 years to pass the Brady bill — named after the late Jim Brady, who was shot in 1981 and was permanently disabled.

“We’re not going to give up,” Blumenthal said. “We’re not going away. We are determined to make it happen. We are on the right side of this issue.”

Christine Stuart photo
Karen Jarmoc, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Connecticut averages 14 domestic violence homicides per year and “guns continue to be the main use of force in a domestic violence murder in our state.”

Dr. D’Andrea Joseph, a trauma surgeon at Hartford Hospital, said she was encouraged by Blumenthal’s statement regarding the Brady bill. Anne Mahoney, a prosecutor, said she worries about what happens to the children who witness this domestic violence.

“They don’t learn how to behave properly or how to cope with the trauma that’s been inflicted upon them,” Mahoney said.

Hayley Zachary, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, said that when they were forming their organization they looked at research on public attitudes toward gun ownership, gun violence, responsible gun ownership, domestic violence, and found “an enormous gender gap.”

She said the public supports common sense solutions to these problems that don’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners. She said nothing they spoke about Thursday would impact the rights of responsible gun owners.

“The public overwhelmingly supports common sense solutions,” Zachary said. “But there’s an enormous gender gap and women are far more in favor of common sense solutions and women are the majority of the electorate.”

But she warned there is a very vocal minority opposed to any of the measures supported by the organization.

“There are way more of us and if we make our voices heard even more loudly in proportion to the percentage we are, we’ll empower our leaders to make even more change,” Zachary said.

The event was hosted by the advocacy arm of the 501c4 organization and not the Super Pac, which has donated about $550,000 toward a Connecticut group called Common Sense Connecticut. About $50,000 of that money was used to hire a polling firm for the benefit of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign. According to the forms filed late Thursday night with the election regulators about $250,000 will be spent on a television ad promoting Malloy, while another $250,000 will be spent on an ad criticizing his Republican opponent Tom Foley.