Shot congresswoman Giffords meets school shooting victims' families

Former US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords met families of victims of the Connecticut school massacre that left 26 people dead, nearly two years after she was critically wounded in a mass shooting.

Ms Giffords was accompanied by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at the private meeting in Newtown that was also attended by US senator 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," Mr Blumenthal said.

Ms Giffords was left partially blind, with a paralysed right arm and a brain injury, when a gunman opened fire as the Democrat was meeting constituents near a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store on January 8, 2011.

Arizona's chief judge and five others were killed and 13 people, including Ms Giffords, were injured.

The gunman, Jared Loughner, pleaded guilty to 19 charges and was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years.

Mr Kelly said on the day of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last month that it should lead to better gun control.

"This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence," Mr Kelly said on his Facebook page, calling for "a meaningful discussion about our gun laws and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America".

Mr Blumenthal said he was eager to find allies as he pursued tougher gun laws.

"I'm hopeful that everyone who cares about this issue or has a stake in it will be active in supporting our effort in gun violence protection legislatively," he said.

Ms Giffords' visit came a day after Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy announced the creation of an advisory commission to review and recommend changes to state laws and policies on issues including gun control in the wake of the December 14 rampage at Sandy Hook.

The gunman, Adam Lanza, shot dead his mother, then drove to the school and slaughtered 20 first-graders and six staff before committing suicide as police arrived.

Ms Giffords has appeared in public a few times since the shooting. She came face to face with Loughner when he was sentenced in November and attended ceremonies for the anniversary of the shooting.

She received tributes and ovations when she returned to the House of Representatives in January 2012 to say goodbye as she resigned her seat and delivered the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention in September.

President Barack Obama invoked the Tucson and Newtown elementary school shootings when he spoke at Newtown shortly after the attack.

He said four shootings, including those two plus the attacks at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, marked his first term in office.

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

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