Shot US law­maker to re­ceive ‘in­spi­ra­tion’ award

The China Post - - ARTS - BY JO­CE­LYN NOVECK

For­mer U.S Rep. Gabby Gif­fords, who’s been de­vot­ing her time to push­ing for tougher gun laws as she slowly re­cov­ers from her 2011 shoot­ing, will now have US$50,000 (NT1.55 mil­lion) to do­nate to her cause, cour­tesy of designer Diane von Fursten­berg.

Von Fursten­berg’s DVF Foun­da­tion is hon­or­ing the for­mer Ari­zona con­gress­woman this week with its In­spi­ra­tion Award, and Gif­fords plans to give the money to the Amer­i­cans for Re­spon­si­ble So­lu­tions Foun­da­tion, which she formed with her hus­band, Mark Kelly, to ed­u­cate the public about gun vi­o­lence.

“Our lead­ers — both in Congress and in state leg­is­la­tures around the coun­try — must close the loop­holes that let danger­ous peo­ple like felons and do­mes­tic abusers buy guns with­out a back­ground check,” Gif­fords said in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press on Tues­day. “They must also do more to keep guns out of the hands of do­mes­tic abusers and stalk­ers, and we need strong laws that can help crack down on il­le­gal gun traf­fick­ing.”

In the email, Gif­fords also ad­dressed her dif­fi­cult re­cov­ery from the shoot­ing in Tucson that killed six peo­ple and left her par­tially par­a­lyzed from a gun­shot wound to the head, call­ing it “tough, gritty and end­lessly repet­i­tive.”

“It’s been a long, hard haul, but I’m work­ing hard and get­ting bet­ter ev­ery day,” she wrote. “I am con­tin­u­ing to do speech ther­apy, phys­i­cal ther­apy, and even some yoga, too. And while speak­ing and mov­ing my right side re­mains phys­i­cally very dif­fi­cult for me, I am see­ing progress. I’m still fight­ing.”

Gif­fords added that she’s “back to do­ing a lot of the things I love, like play­ing my French horn and rid­ing my bi­cy­cle with Mark and good friends. This fall, I rode 11 miles in Tucson’s an­nual bike race, El Tour de Tucson, and my goal is to do 40 miles in next year’s race. “

And she said she was grate­ful, along with her hus­band, “to have a sec­ond chance at ser­vice, and we’re us­ing it to fight for laws that make our com­mu­ni­ties safer from gun vi­o­lence.”

Von Fursten­berg cre­ated the DVF awards in 2010, along with the Diller-von Fursten­berg Fam­ily Foun­da­tion. The In­spi­ra­tion Award goes to a woman who has demon­strated ex­cep­tional strength. Gif­fords will at­tend the awards cer­e­mony Thurs­day at the United Na­tions and make re­marks there.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view, the designer said she’d met Gif­fords last year at an event. “I was so im­pressed by her. She had the courage to fight, and the power to sur­vive — and then the lead­er­ship to in­spire,” von Fursten­berg said. “No mat­ter what, she re­fused to be a vic­tim, even though she was a vic­tim.”

Also to be hon­ored at Thurs­day’s cer­e­mony: Me­lanne Verveer, direc­tor of the Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity In­sti­tute for Women, Peace & Se­cu­rity. Verveer, who will re­ceive the Life­time Lead­er­ship award, served in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion as an am­bas­sador-at-large for global women’s is­sues.

Gif­fords, in the email, said that while Congress “still re­fuses to act” to re­duce gun vi­o­lence, “many lead­ers in the states are mak­ing some com­mon­sense changes to their laws. In the last two years, a num­ber of states have closed the loop­hole that lets danger­ous peo­ple buy a gun with­out a back­ground check, and many other states have acted to keep guns out of the hands of do­mes­tic abusers and stalk­ers.”

And she said she be­lieves that “some­day, Congress will fi­nally catch up to where most Amer­i­cans stand on laws that re­duce gun vi­o­lence, like back­ground checks on gun sales.”

AP

In this Oct. 27, 2013 file photo, for­mer Ari­zona U.S. Rep. Gabby Gif­fords, a Demo­cratic Party law­maker, at­tends a fundraiser for U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Bruce Braley in Des Moines, Iowa.

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