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Entries in Gabrielle Giffords (86)

Tuesday
Jan082013

Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly Launch Initiative to Curb Gun Violence

ABC/Ida Astute(NEW YORK) -- After she was gravely wounded by gunfire two years ago in Tucson, Ariz., former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, imagined a life out of the public eye, where she would continue therapy surrounded by the friends, family and the Arizona desert she loves so much.

But after the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month, Giffords and Kelly knew they couldn't stay silent.

"Enough," Giffords said.

The couple marked the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting by sitting down with ABC's Diane Sawyer to discuss their recent visit to Newtown and their new initiative to curb gun violence, "Americans for Responsible Solutions."

"After the shooting in Tucson, there was talk about addressing some of these issues, [and] again after [a movie theater massacre in] Aurora," Colo., Kelly said.  "I'm hopeful that this time is different, and I think it is.  Twenty first-graders' being murdered in their classrooms is a very personal thing for everybody."

During their trip to Newtown, Giffords and Kelly met with families directly affected by the tragedy.

"[The] first couple that we spoke to, the dad took out his cellphone and showed us a picture of his daughter and I just about lost it, just by looking at the picture," Kelly said.  "It was just very tough and it brought back a lot of memories about what that was like for us some two years ago."

"Strength," Giffords said she told the families in Newtown.

"Gabby often told them, 'You got to have strength.  You got to fight for something,'" Kelly said.

The innocent faces of the children whose lives were abruptly taken reminded the couple, they said, of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim to die in the Tucson shooting at a Giffords constituent event.

"I think we all need to try to do something about [gun violence]," Kelly said.  "It's obvious to everybody we have a problem.  And problems can be solved."

Giffords, 42, and Kelly, 48, are both gun owners and supporters of the 2nd Amendment, but Kelly had strong words for the National Rifle Association after the group suggested the only way to stop gun violence is to have a "good guy with a gun."

There was a good guy with a gun, Kelly said, on Jan. 8, 2011, when Jared Loughner shot Giffords and 18 other people -- six fatally -- at her "Congress on Your Corner" event.

"[A man came out] of the store next door and nearly shot the man who took down Jared Loughner," Kelly said.  "The one who eventually wrestled [Loughner] to the ground was almost killed himself by a good guy with a gun, so I don't really buy that argument."

Instead, Giffords and Kelly are proposing "common sense" changes through "Americans for Responsible Solutions."

The first change the couple hopes to enact is to require a comprehensive background check for the private sale of firearms.

"I bought a gun at Walmart recently and I went through a background check.  It's not a difficult thing to do," Kelly said.  "Why can't we just do that and make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns?"

The debate over high-capacity magazines and assault weapons has been renewed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Kelly, a veteran of Desert Storm and a gun owner, said he doesn't believe an extended magazine is necessary for the sport.

"An extended magazine is used to kill people," he said, "lots of people."

Loughner used a magazine that had 33 rounds in Tucson, while accused Aurora shooter James Holmes had a 100-round magazine.  Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, used numerous 30-round magazines to load his Bushmaster AR-15.

Finally, Kelly hopes to address the issue of how the mentally ill are treated in the United States.  Loughner, who was deemed incompetent to stand trial, pleaded guilty to 19 counts in August.

"Jared Loughner was clearly mentally ill," Kelly said.

"Sad," Giffords added.

Kelly said, "We have to learn how to identify these people and get them treatment.  And we don't do a very good job at that."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov092012

Mark Kelly: Loughner's Sentencing 'Not Exactly Closure, But It Is Resolution'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Ex-astronaut Mark Kelly spoke to ABC's Diane Sawyer Thursday night about what it was like to be in the courtroom with his wife, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced.

Loughner, 24, went on a shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011, killing six people and wounding 13 others, including Giffords, who was forced to retire due to the severity of her injuries.  

On Thursday, he was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years, without parole.  Loughner pleaded guilty in a deal that allowed him to avoid the possibility of a death sentence.

Kelly said on World News with Diane Sawyer that he and Giffords now had “some sense of resolution.  Not exactly closure, but it is resolution.”

Loughner, he said, was “a little defiant in the way looking at us and looking at Gabby.  I got the sense he was trying to intimidate us, especially my wife.”

While her husband addressed the court on her behalf, Giffords stared into Loughner’s eyes.

”She stared into his eyes the entire time.  I saw a person [Loughner] who certainly has major mental illness, but who knew where he was and why he was there,” Kelly said.

Loughner, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the shooting, is under orders to forcibly receive anti-psychotic medication.  He is currently being held at a prison medical facility in Missouri.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov072012

Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly to Appear at Loughner Sentencing

Valerie Macon/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- A source close to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly tells ABC News exclusively that both Giffords and Kelly will be at the sentencing of Tucson gunman Jared Loughner Thursday.

It is expected that Kelly will make a statement in court on behalf of the couple with Giffords standing at his side.

This will be the first time the couple see Loughner in person.

On Jan. 8, 2011, Giffords was shot in the head while meeting constituents at an Arizona supermarket. In August 2012, Loughner pleaded guilty to the mass shooting that left six dead.

Giffords, who made a remarkable recovery, stepped down from the House in January 2012.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep202012

Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly Watch Endeavour Space Shuttle Fly Over Tucson

NASA/ Robert Markowitz(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The space shuttle Endeavour arrived in California Thursday after taking a detour over Tucson as former astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, watched from a rooftop at the University of Arizona.

Kelly, Endeavour's last commander, asked Wednesday that Endeavour make a detour and fly over Tucson, so that Giffords could see it one last time.

The last-minute suggestion was a bit of a surprise to NASA, but it put out a statement saying it would honor Kelly’s request.

“As part of the delivery of Endeavour to Los Angeles, Endeavour will be flown over the city of Tucson,” said the agency.  “NASA decided to honor that request to pay our respects to a long-time agency supporter in former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s final mission, STS-134. The flight over Tucson will add no additional time or cost to the delivery of Endeavour.”

Kelly was training for the flight in January 2011 when Giffords was wounded in an assassination attempt in Tucson, where she was meeting with people from her district.  After weeks of watching to see how she was recovering, Kelly decided to go ahead with the flight.   It was bittersweet, but he had been training for two years with his crew, and said he had had faith in the medical team treating his wife.

This week Endeavour, now retired like the other space shuttles, flew a victory lap across the South, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, dropping from 14,000 feet to 1,500 to circle historic locations in space shuttle history.

On Wednesday, the orbiter, on top of its 747 carrier plane, circled over Houston and the Johnson Space Center. Endeavour then headed to El Paso Thursday, where it refueled and went on to Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles.

On Friday it will fly to Los Angeles International Airport, and then it will be prepped for transport through city streets to its final home -- as a permanent display at the California Science Center.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep192012

NASA to Fly Space Shuttle Endeavour Over Tucson to Honor Gabby Giffords

NASA/ Robert Markowitz(HOUSTON) -- The space shuttle Endeavour is on a 2,700-mile cross-country trip. So you have to wonder why it couldn’t make one small detour -- especially at the request of former astronaut Mark Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s last mission before it was retired.

Kelly’s wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was struggling to recover from an attempted assassination in Tucson early last year, and his mission to the International Space Station conflicted with her recovery, so his decision to command it was bittersweet, but he had been training for so long and had faith in the medical team treating his wife.

Endeavour is flying a victory lap across the South, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, dropping from 14,000 feet to 1,500 to circle historic locations in space shuttle history. The orbiter, on top of its 747 carrier plane, circled over Houston and the Johnson Space Center Wednesday. Endeavour will overnight in Houston, then head to El Paso, where it will refuel, then arrive in Los Angeles late in the week. It is to go on permanent display at the California Science Center.

Mark Kelly’s request for Endeavour to make a detour and fly over Tucson, so Giffords could see it one last time, doesn’t take it that far out of the way, especially when the idea is for it to be seen anyhow.

The last-minute suggestion was a bit of a surprise to NASA, but late in the day it put out a statement saying it would honor Kelly’s request.

“As part of the delivery of Endeavour to Los Angeles, Endeavour will be flown over the city of Tucson,” said the agency.  “NASA decided to honor that request to pay our respects to a long-time agency supporter in former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s final mission, STS-134. The flight over Tucson will add no additional time or cost to the delivery of Endeavour.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Gabby Giffords Leads Pledge of Allegiance at DNC

Alex Wong/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose political career was cut short when she was shot in the head by a gunman at a constituent event on Jan. 8, 2011, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night to lead the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

With her longtime friend and colleague, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., by her side, Giffords, in black slacks and a white jacket, fought her way through the oath in a spirited but at times slurred voice, as conventioneers, some in tears, joined her before exploding into applause.

She walked haltingly off with the stage with Wasserman Schultz aiding her progress, but all the time flashing a broad smile as supporters stayed on their feet, chanting "Gabby! Gabby!" and, "Fired Up! Ready to go!" during a prolonged ovation.

"Ok, now Gabby Giffords just made me cry," Newark Mayor Cory Booker tweeted from the floor. "What a testimony to strength, resilience, perseverance and beauty!"

Rumors that the former Tucson, Ariz., congresswoman, who was shot in the head during a constituent event, would appear at the Charlotte convention began to spread Wednesday afternoon, but were only confirmed Wednesday night by a spokeswoman.

It's been a busy month for Giffords and her husband, the astronaut Mark Kelly. On Tuesday, they revealed the formation of a political action committee called Gabby PAC.

On Aug. 13, after 17 months at a rehab facility in Houston, Giffords moved back to Tucson, where she continues therapy.

Giffords resigned from Congress in late January.

 Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug062012

Jared Lee Loughner Reportedly Set to Plead Guilty

Pima County Sheriff's Department(NEW YORK) -- The man accused in the January 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is set to plead guilty in court Tuesday, reports the Wall Street Journal.

A source familiar with the case told the newspaper that Jared Lee Loughner, who has been treated for a mental disorder while under arrest, will receive a term of life in prison for his plea.

Despite his illness, mental health officials believe Loughner is competent enough to comprehend the charges against him.

In March 2011, Loughner, 24, pleaded not guilty to 49 counts, including six first-degree murder charges, which carry a possible death sentence upon conviction.

Giffords was meeting with constituents as she regularly did on Jan. 8, 2011 when, police said, Loughner began opening fire with a handgun, striking Giffords at point-blank range.

Among the six people Loughner allegedly murdered were U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman, an aide to Giffords, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

Giffords is still recovering from a bullet wound to the brain and decided last year not to run for re-election.  One of her closest aides, Ron Barber, who was also wounded in the Tucson shooting, was chosen by voters last June to serve out the remainder of Giffords' terms that ends in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Navy Announces USS Gabrielle Giffords

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Navy’s newest ship will be the USS Gabrielle Giffords.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made the announcement Friday at a Pentagon ceremony, calling Giffords someone whose name is synonymous with courage.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords looked on at the Pentagon as Mabus made the announcement in a public ceremony. Also in attendance at the brief ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard was Roxana Green, the mother of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Green was among those killed in last year’s deadly shooting rampage in Tucson that targeted Giffords as she met constituents outside a supermarket. Roxana Green will be the ship’s sponsor.

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Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wounds to her head that she suffered during last January’s shooting incident. Just two weeks ago she stepped down from Congress.

The ship named Friday for her will be the Navy’s 10th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a new type of ship designed to bring the Navy fighting power into shallow coastal areas. The first two ships in this class were called Freedom and Independence, but since then the conventional practice has been to name the other ships in the class after a city.

Giffords also visited the White House earlier in the day to watch President Obama sign the last piece of legislation she sponsored as a member of Congress. The Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012 was passed late last month and gives law enforcement broader authority to counter illicit drug trafficking on U.S. borders.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Will US Navy Name Ship After Gabrielle Giffords?

Gabrielle Giffords with her husband Mark Kelly. ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) -- Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is coming to the Pentagon on Friday as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announces the name of the Navy’s newest ship. Her visit has set off speculation that the Navy might name the ship after her.

Also in attendance at Friday afternoon’s brief ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard will be Roxana Green, the mother of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Green was among those killed in last year’s deadly shooting rampage in Tucson that targeted Giffords as she met constituents outside a supermarket.

Navy spokespersons are not commenting on whether their presence at Friday’s event is tied to the ship’s name and they are not providing any clues about what the ship’s name might be.

Also on hand for the event will be former Rep. Ike Skelton who, along with Mabus, will ”reveal” a placard that will have the name of the ship on it. Skelton is a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Giffords is still recovering from the gunshot wound to her head that she suffered during last January’s shooting incident. Just two weeks ago, she stepped down from Congress. She will be at the White House Friday morning as President Obama signs into law the last piece of legislation that she had proposed as a member of Congress.

The ship being named on Friday will be the Navy’s 10th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a new type of ship designed to bring the Navy fighting power into shallow coastal areas. The first two ships in this class were called Freedom and Independence, but since then the conventional practice has been to name the other ships in the class after a city.

The Navy has also named ships after living persons with some recent examples being the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush and the submarine USS Jimmy Carter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan262012

Giffords’ Resignation ‘Right Decision,’ Mark Kelly tells ABC News

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- A day after wife Gabrielle Giffords resigned from Congress, Mark Kelly told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff that “it was certainly the right decision,” despite the difficulty of stepping down from her position.

“Over the past month or six weeks, she came to realize that she was not going to be in a position to run for re-election,” Kelly said. “The goal had been for her to get back to work and run for re-election but she was aware that wasn’t going to happen. She knew that she had to continue with her rehab.”

Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, appeared on the House floor Wednesday to deliver her resignation letter, a little more than a year after being shot in the head.

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“This past year my colleagues and staff have worked to make sure my constituents were represented in Congress,” the Tucson native, 41, wrote in her letter of resignation. “But if I can’t return, my district deserves to elect a U.S. representative who can give 100 percent to the job now.”

Kelly, a former astronaut, said Giffords planned to remain politically active and that she hoped a moderate like herself would fill her vacant seat.

For now, Giffords is spending five to six days a week in physical, occupational and speech therapy. Kelly said she still struggled with communication but was finding progress with intensive speech therapy.

While Kelly said he was certain his wife will return to public service, he said he will not be running in 2012.

“No way,” he said. “I will not be on the ballot. … I’m never one to close any door -- there’s no point in doing that -- but no one needs to worry about me gathering those signatures.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio