Giffords pleads to US Congress to reduce deadly gun violence
AFP and ReutersWASHINGTON -- Ex-lawmaker and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords made a dramatic appeal to Congress Wednesday, telling lawmakers “you must act” to find ways to reduce the epidemic of U.S. gun violence.
February 1, 2013, 1:01 am TWN
Democrat Giffords came face to face at a Senate hearing with leaders of the National Rifle Association, who reiterated their call for arming security forces at schools.
“Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying,” said Giffords, a former congresswoman who was shot in the head two years ago at a massacre in her Arizona district.
“We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now,” she told a hushed Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, speaking in the slow, labored voice that has marked her speech since her recovery.
“You must act,” she pleaded, staring down the panel of senators. “Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
Escorted into the room by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, Giffords was a surprise witness at the year's first congressional hearing on the causes of and possible solutions for gun violence.
It comes six weeks after a gunman killed 20 small children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The hearing pitted Giffords, who was to meet privately with President Barack Obama later Wednesday at the White House, against fellow witness Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president and the gun lobby's leading voice.
“Proposing more gun control laws — while failing to enforce the thousands we already have — is not a serious solution to reducing crime,” LaPierre said.
“Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals,” he added. “Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.”
Kelly Recounts Shooting
Kelly pushed for gun-control measures on Wednesday by recalling in chilling detail the massacre that nearly killed his wife.
During a discussion of whether limiting gun buyers to ammunition clips with 10 rounds or less would violate their right to bear arms, Kelly told lawmakers why he believed limiting ammunition clips would save lives.
“On January 8th of 2011, a young man walked up to Gabby at her constituent event in Tucson, leveled his gun and shot her through the head,” Kelly said, referring to gunman Jared Loughner.