Giffords to begin 9-state tour on women, guns

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords will begin a nine-state tour in Maine, where she will advocate for tougher gun laws that she says will help protect women and families.

The former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six people, will seek to elevate the issue of gun violence against women and push for state and federal action to make it more difficult for domestic abusers to access firearms.

Giffords, who was shot in the head, remains partially paralyzed and continues to have difficulty speaking.

On the first stop of the "Protect All Women Tour" in Portland, Maine, on Tuesday, Giffords planned to meet with state domestic violence advocates, law enforcement officials and others.

Giffords' 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.