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Giffords meets school shooting victims

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, nearly two years after being critically wounded in a mass shooting, on Friday met with families of victims in last month's shooting that left 26 people dead inside an elementary school.

Giffords was accompanied by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at the private meeting in Newtown that was also attended by U.S. 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," Blumenthal said.

Giffords, a Democrat, met earlier in the day with officials including Connecticut's lieutenant governor and Newtown's first selectman.

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

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.

A recent Pew Research Center report says gun policy accounted for almost 30 per cent 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 per cent of social media conversation was about gun laws.

The Canadian Press


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