Nearly two years after being critically wounded in a mass shooting, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Friday met with families of victims in last month’s shooting that left 26 people dead inside a Connecticut elementary school.
Giffords was accompanied by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at the private meeting in Newtown that also was attended by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
“As always, I was deeply impressed by the strength and courage and resolve of the families and the extraordinary caring and generosity of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly in visiting with them,” Blumenthal said.
Giffords, a Democrat, met earlier in the day with officials including Connecticut’s lieutenant governor and Newtown’s first selectman.
Giffords was left partially blind, with a paralyzed right arm and brain injury, when a gunman opened fire at a constituent meet-and-greet outside a Tucson grocery store Jan. 8, 2011. Arizona’s chief federal judge and five others were killed, and 13 people, including Giffords, were injured.
The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges and was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years.
Kelly has become a vocal advocate for gun control in recent months, most notably at Loughner’s sentencing in November. He lashed out at politicians for avoiding a “meaningful debate” about gun laws and called out Arizona Republicans, including the governor, for taking a pro-gun stance in the months after the shooting.
“As a nation, we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address the issue. After Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after Tucson and after Aurora, we have done nothing,” he told the court.