Giffords calls for Senate hearing on gun violence

Shooting survivor and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is pressing the Senate Judiciary Committee to convene a hearing to address gun violence against women.

Giffords, who represented Arizona as a Democrat during five years in the House, delivered a petition signed by more than 37,000 people to the panel this week.

“More action is needed — and soon. Women's lives are at stake,” Giffords wrote in a letter to committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the panel’s top Republican.

“We know more about the dangerous connection between domestic abuse and guns than we ever have,” Giffords wrote. “Let’s leave no stone unturned when it comes to protecting women and their families.”

Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than those in other high-income countries, according to statistics cited by Giffords. The mere presence of a gun in a household with a history of domestic violence increases the risk that a woman will be killed by 20 times compared to homes without guns, she said.

Giffords pointed to figures showing 38 percent of women are shot to death by an intimate partner in states with universal background check requirements for gun sales.

Federal efforts to require background checks for all gun sales have stalled in Congress, as has legislation in support of bans on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Giffords was shot in the head during a 2011 shooting spree in Tucson that left six people dead. She later founded the gun control group Americans for Responsible Solutions with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.