Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to the scene of the horrific shooting that wounded her and killed six people two years ago, urging senators Wednesday to pass background checks for gun purchases in her first public event at the site since the rampage.
Giffords, who still is recovering from her injuries, spoke fewer than 20 words in the parking lot of the Safeway grocery store in her hometown of Tucson in a brief but emotional call for stricter gun-control measures.
“Be bold. Be courageous,” Giffords said. “Please support background checks.”
At one point, Giffords pumped her fist in the air and grinned.
Other survivors joined Giffords at the news conference, along with her husband, Mark Kelly. Giffords and Kelly have returned to the Safeway previously to visit the memorial, but Wednesday marked their first public event at the store since the shooting. Deputy sheriffs were there to provide security.
A gun-control group started by Giffords and Kelly began airing a new television ad in Arizona and Iowa on Tuesday urging Congress to take action. Giffords and Kelly support extending background checks to gun shows and Internet purchases.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up tougher firearm regulations today. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who sits on the committee, has criticized universal background checks.
“This discussion is not really about the Second Amendment,” Kelly said. “It’s about public safety and keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill.”