- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords on Tuesday launched a nine-state tour in which she’s advocating for tougher gun laws that she says will help protect women and families.

The former Arizona congresswoman, who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six people, told law enforcement officials, domestic violence advocates and others at the University of Southern Maine campus to help her bring about change.

Giffords, who was shot in the head and remains partially paralyzed, spoke haltingly but clearly as she described gun violence as a pressing issue for women.

“We can lead the way. We stand for common sense. We stand for responsibility. We can change our laws. We can win elections. Please join your voice with mine,” she said.

Her gun-control advocacy group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, calls guns and domestic violence “a lethal mix,” noting that abuse victims are more than five times more likely to be killed if the aggressor has access to a gun.

Among the changes Giffords has sought is to include people with misdemeanor-level stalking crimes among those who are prohibited from buying firearms and to expand background checks to ensure that domestic violence abusers can’t buy firearms at gun shows.

After visiting Maine, Giffords will travel to New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa and Oregon. The last stop of the tour will be in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 22, according to details a Giffords aide provided to The Associated Press.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, did a similar tour across the country last year, focused on garnering support for expanded background checks.

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