Two years to the day after a bullet tore into her brain, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said in a TV interview Tuesday that her recovery is “a struggle” but “family” is the best part of her day.
She spoke haltingly and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, often finished her sentences.
The interview on ABC World News With Diane Sawyer, and an opinion piece in USA TODAY by Giffords and Kelly, come with their launching of Americans for Responsible Solutions, an advocacy organization that aims to create a national dialogue on preventing gun violence and raise funds to counter the efforts of the gun lobby, they wrote.
COLUMN:Giffords and Kelly on fighting gun violence.
The Democratic former congresswoman from Arizona seemed to fight to speak, answering questions mostly with one or two words. She held hands with Kelly, who often looked at her and spoke for her.
Asked about her thoughts on the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting in which paranoid schizophrenic Jared Loughner shot her and 18 others, six fatally, as she visited with constituents in a supermarket parking lot outside Tucson, Giffords, 42, answered, “Complicated.”.
Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 counts of murder and other charges. He was sentenced to life in prison last November. Since the Tucson incident, there have been 11 mass shootings in the United States.
Giffords said her recovery work includes physical therapy, speech therapy and yoga and that it is going “so slowly, so slowly.” When asked about the hardest part of her day, she gestured to her face and said, “I don’t like at all. I’m sad.”.
Kelly explained that she was referring to difficulties seeing with her right eye and moving on the right side of her body. The segment showed Giffords walking with a service dog, her right side appearing stiff. She nodded at a suggestion that she gets frustrated trying to find the right words.
Kelly said the couple felt strong emotions last week when they visited with families whose loved ones were killed in the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., In which 20 children and six adults died.
A couple showed them a picture of their daughter “and I just about lost it,” Kelly said. “How do we get to the point where 85% of children that are killed with guns are killed in the United States? That is a sobering statistic.”.
Giffords and Kelly said they support the Second Amendment to the Constitution and are both gun owners. Giffords said she owns a Glock handgun.
In their USA TODAY piece, the couple took Congress to task for doing “nothing at all” about gun violence.
Kelly asked in the interview, “Why can’t we just make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns?”.