Spencer Platt/Getty Gabrielle Giffords
On the 10-year anniversary of an attack that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords tragically wounded and six others dead, the former Arizona lawmaker declared the harrowing moment “did not break me.”
“My recovery has taught me to celebrate even small victories—and treat every day as a new opportunity,” Giffords, 50, tweeted. “To achieve a safer America, we must continue our work through the next decade and beyond.”
Giffords marked the somber anniversary with defiance on Friday, a decade after a gunman opened fire on the representative and a crowd outside a supermarket to hear her speak on Jan. 8, 2011.
The lawmaker was shot in the head and nearly killed. The gunman killed six others, including a federal judge named John Roll and a 9-year-old named Christina-Taylor Green. In total, 13 people were injured in the Tucson mass shooting.
Giffords is memorializing the victims and speaking out about her own recovery on Friday, marking the 10-year anniversary in statements, interviews, and a virtual memorial ceremony.
Ten years ago, my life and my community changed forever. I was shot in the head, six people were killed, 12 others injured. But the attack did not break me—or the people I represented in Congress. We came together, turned pain into purpose, and found hope in each other.
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2021
The lawmaker-turned-activist retired from Congress in 2012 to focus on her recovery and has become a leading voice on gun violence prevention, often speaking up in the wake of mass shootings as she did in 2017 after the Las Vegas concert massacre.
The day of tributes comes just two days after she lamented the pro-Donald Trump riot in the U.S. Capitol building, where her husband, current Sen. Mark Kelly, and other lawmakers were evacuated and put on lockdown. Five people, as of Friday, have died in connection with what lawmakers have since described as a failed "insurrection" attempt on the U.S. Capitol.
“As I sat waiting for information about [Kelly’s] safety today, I couldn’t stop thinking about what you must have gone through 10 years ago this week,” Giffords tweeted Wednesday. “I’m so glad you and your staff are safe. I love you, sweetie.”
Kelly, a former astronaut, was recently elected to fill the same seat once held by Sen. John McCain. Led by President-elect Joe Biden, the Democratic Party won the presidency, maintained a slim majority in the House of Representatives, and gave the Biden administration an easier path to pass legislation.
UNITED STATES - MAY 3: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., speaks during a news conference with Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to a call on Congress to address the issue and resist the agenda of gun lobbies on May 3, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2017
Speaking with USA Today this week, Giffords said her top priority for 2021 is helping advocate for federal laws on gun violence. Last August, she declared "we are at a crossroads" on gun violence in the U.S. during a speech at the Democratic National Convention, in support of Biden.
“There’s no magic recovery in store for us as a nation,” Giffords wrote on Friday, in an editorial for The New York Times, marking the 10-year anniversary. “We have a long way to go.”
But, Giffords remains hopeful.
“We will move ahead together as I did and still do every day — one foot after another,” she wrote. “When one person flags, another person steps in — to lift up the weak, and give strength to the doubtful. Together, our resolve and determination will be fuel for years to come.”