Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, grievously wounded in a 2011 mass shooting, made an emotional plea on Wednesday for Congress to take action to curb gun violence in the aftermath of last month’s Connecticut school massacre, urging lawmakers to “be bold, be courageous.”
Wearing a red outfit and speaking haltingly, Giffords appeared as the first person to testify before the first congressional hearing on gun violence since the Dec. 14 incident in which a gunman shot dead 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
“This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans,” Giffords, who survived a head wound in an assassination attempt last year in Tucson, Arizona, said, speaking haltingly. Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the incident.
“Speaking is difficult. But I need to say something important,” she told the senators. “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.”
Accompanied by her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, she concluded: “You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.” She did not take questions from the committee.
Responding to outrage across the country following the Connecticut massacre, President Barack Obama and other Democrats are seeking the largest gun-control package in decades.
Kelly also testified. The couple recently founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group intended to combat gun violence.
Others set to testify include National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, whose group is an influential opponent of gun restrictions.
Obama’s proposals to curb gun violence include reinstating the U.S. ban on military-style “assault” weapons, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines, and more extensive background checks of prospective gun buyers, largely to verify whether they have a history of crime or mental illness.