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Wounded ex-Rep. Giffords meets with Conn. families

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Just days before the second anniversary of a mass shooting that critically injured Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman was in Newtown meeting privately with families of those killed during last month's shooting at an elementary school.

Giffords was accompanied yesterday by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Blumenthal said he was deeply impressed by the strength, courage and resolve of the families and the extraordinary caring and generosity of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly in visiting with them.

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 January 8th 2011. Arizona's chief federal judge and five others were killed and 13 people, including Giffords, were injured.

She met earlier in the day yesterday with officials including Lt Governor Nancy Wyman and Newtown First Selectwoman Patricia Llodra, who says 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 said in published reports that they discussed concerns that society has become desensitized to acts of violence, conflict and aggression along with the need for adults to examine their role in allowing societal values to become eroded.

Mark Kelly has become a vocal advocate for gun control. 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 Arizona shooting.

When the Arizona gunman was sentenced he said 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 has issued strongly worded statements many times since the shooting rampage in Newtown, including a harsh response to the National Rifle Association's reaction 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.


Blumenthal said he is eager to find allies as he pursues tougher gun control laws.


Giffords has appeared in public a few times since the shooting. She came face-to-face with the man who shot her when he was sentenced and attended ceremonies for the anniversary of the shooting.  She received tributes and ovations when she returned to the House in January 2012 to say goodbye as she resigned her seat and she delivered the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention in September.


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

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