US school shooting: Ex-Rep Giffords visits victim` families
Newtown (US): Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, nearly two years after being critically wounded in a mass shooting, has met with families of victims in last month`s shooting that left 26 people dead inside an elementary school.
Giffords was accompanied on Thursday by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, at the private meeting in Newtown that was also attended by US Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
"As always, I was deeply impressed by the strength and courage and resolve of the families and the extraordinary caring and generosity of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly in visiting with them," said Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat.
A gunman fatally shot 26 people most of them children inside Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14. He also killed his mother and himself.
Giffords was left partially blind, with a paralysed 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 Lee Loughner, pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges and was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years.
She met earlier in the day Friday with officials including Connecticut Lt Gov Nancy Wyman and Newtown`s First Selectwoman Patricia Llodra. They talked about the need for changes in gun control laws and greater awareness of mental health issues, including identifying and treating people who have mental health problems, Llodra told USA Today.
They also discussed "concerns that our society has become desensitised to acts of violence, conflict and aggression," and the need for adults to examine their role in allowing societal values to become eroded," the newspaper reported.
Kelly has become a vocal advocate for gun control in recent months, most notably at Loughner`s sentencing in November. He lashed out at politicians for avoiding a "meaningful debate" about gun laws and called out Arizona Republicans, including the governor, for taking a pro-gun stance in the months after the shooting.
"As a nation we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address the issue. After Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after Tucson and after Aurora, we have done nothing," he told the court.
He has issued strongly worded statements many times since the massacre in Connecticut, including a harsh response to the reaction by the National Rifle Association, the influential gun-rights lobbying group, to the shooting. He often begins statements with "Gabby and I" as he makes pointed comments about the direction of the gun debate in America.
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