Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman shot in the head in a mass shooting two years ago, called on her former colleagues Wednesday to pass laws to reduce gun violence.
Giffords spoke at a painstakingly slow pace, saying she has not fully recovered since Jared L. Loughner nearly killed her in a rampage in Arizona in January 2011. She did not take questions from the panel after her remarks.
"Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans," she said. "Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important."
She said "violence is a big problem," then pointed to the number of child deaths, a flashpoint of the gun control debate since a gunman killed 20 kindergarten students at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last month.
"Too many children are dying. Too many children," Giffords said. "We must do something. It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you."
National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre addressed Congress soon after Giffords, and urged lawmakers to place armed guards in schools rather than put restrictions on firearms. Last month, he said violent films and video games contribute to a culture of violence.
Watch the full video of Giffords' remarks: