Gabby Giffords Meets Newtown Massacre Victims' Families

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 06:00 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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Mass shooting survivor and former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has met with families of the victims of the Connecticut school massacre that left 26 people dead.

Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal says he attended the meeting Friday with the families and was impressed by their strength as well as the caring shown by Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

Giffords met earlier in the day with officials including Blumenthal and Newtown's first selectman, Pat Llodra.

Llodra told USA Today that they discussed "needed change in gun control legislation" and "greater awareness of mental health issues," including identifying and treating people who have mental health problems.

"Our horrible event of Dec. 14 has some of those same tragic elements as experienced in the Tucson event that so harmed Ms. Giffords and took the lives of innocent citizens," Llodra added.

"I believe that our community will see Ms. Giffords as an ally in the efforts to draw attention to gun control legislation," Llodra said. "I welcome that elevated attention and hope that this visit adds more power to the voice needed to be heard at government levels."

It was nearly two years ago that Giffords was critically wounded herself in a mass shooting in Arizona. She was left partially blind and with a brain injury.

The Newtown massacre was carried out Dec. 14 by a gunman who killed 20 first-graders and six educators before committing suicide.

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 on Jan. 8, 2011. Arizona's chief federal judge and five others were killed and 13 people, including Giffords, were injured.

The gunman, Jared Loughner, pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges and was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years.

Kelly said on the day of the Newtown shooting that it should lead to better gun control.

"This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence," Kelly said on his Facebook page, calling for "a meaningful discussion about our gun laws and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America."

Giffords' visit comes one day after Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the creation of an advisory commission that will review and recommend changes to state laws and policies on issues including gun control in the wake of the Dec. 14 rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The gunman, Adam Lanza, shot and killed his mother, then drove to the school and slaughtered 20 first-graders and six educators before committing suicide as police arrived.

Giffords has appeared in public a few times since the shooting. She came face-to-face with Loughner when he was sentenced in November and attended ceremonies for the anniversary of the shooting.

She received tributes and ovations when she returned to the House in January 2012 to say goodbye as she resigned her seat and she delivered the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention in September.

President Barack Obama invoked the Tucson and Newtown elementary school shootings when he spoke at Newtown shortly after the attack. He said four shootings, including those two plus the attacks at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., marked his first term in office.

A recent Pew Research Center report says gun policy accounted for almost 30 percent of discussions examined on blogs and Twitter in the three days after the school massacre. It compares the response to the Newtown rampage with the Arizona shooting, saying that in the three days after that, just 3 percent of social media conversation was about gun laws.

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