Giffords opens Senate hearings on gun control


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who survived a shooting that killed six people, opened U.S. Senate hearings on gun violence.

"OK!" Giffords began brightly at her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.

Then, assisted by her husband Mark Kelly who was sitting alongside her, she read out her 82-word message.

"Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans," she said. "Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important.

"Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying — too many children! — we must do something. It will be hard but the time is now! You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you."

Her message completed in just over a minute, Giffords and Kelly left the room. Kelly returned a while later to deliver his own comments.

Giffords, who was shot in the head at a January 2011 constituents’ event in Tucson, Ariz., was rallied to gun control activism after last month’s massacre of 20 first-graders and seven adults in Newtown, Conn.

She was the first Jewish woman from Arizona elected to national office. Giffords, a Democrat, was serving her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives when she stepped down to continue her rehabilitation from the shooting.

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