Gabrielle Giffords Visits Newtown
By David Ariosto, CNN
(CNN) — The former Arizona congresswoman who survived a mass shooting in her district roughly two years ago has visited Newtown, Connecticut, where last month a gunman killed 27 people and himself in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Gabrielle Giffords was seen in the small southwestern Connecticut town Friday afternoon. Earlier in the day, Steve Jensen, a spokesman for Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, said the private visit had been “planned but not confirmed.”
The former Democrat lawmaker retired from Congress last year to focus on her recovery after she was shot in the head in January 2011. Giffords was one of 19 people shot at a political event at a shopping plaza in Tucson, Arizona, and spent months relearning how to speak and walk. Six people died in the encounter, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge.
After the Newtown shooting on December 14, Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, vented his frustrations on Twitter.
“When will we address this problem as a nation? The time is now!” he wrote.
Giffords’ visit came one day after Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy set a two-month deadline for a special commission to address the state’s gun laws, mental health policies and public security issues. He called for recommendations to be brought to the state legislature by March 15
“We don’t know the underlying cause of this tragedy, and we probably never will,” Malloy said, but that is “no reason for inaction.”
Friday’s visit also coincided with the second day of school for students from Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 of their classmates — all ages 6 or 7 — were killed last month. The gunman, Adam Lanza, also gunned down six adults after killing his mother, an avid gun collector, in her Newtown home.
Lanza, who smashed his way into the school with an AR-15 assault rifle registered to his mother, also took his own life shortly after the massacre.
Authorities say security measures have been increased at Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby Connecticut town of Monroe, where Sandy Hook students are currently attending class. Their former school remains part of an active police investigation.
Earlier this week, Giffords also met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss gun control, a topic that the three-term mayor has pressed on the national stage, urging tighter restrictions on high-capacity magazines and assault rifles.