Gabrielle Giffords: Former Member of the Arizona House of Representatives

Gabrielle Giffords is a Jewish American politician and former member of the United States House of Representatives from Arizona's 8th congressional district. She was born June 8, 1970, and was raised in Tucson, Arizona. She completed her undergraduate university studies from Scripps College, where she was awarded a William Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Mexico. Later, Giffords obtained her master’s degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University.

Prior to becoming involved with politics, Giffords was the President and Chief Executive Officer of El Campo Tire, Inc. Giffords' began her career in politics by representing Tucson in the Arizona Legislature from 2000 to 2005, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate. She was named Woman of the Year by Tucson Business Edge for her commitment to business and public service and Woman on the Move by YWCA in 2005. She was named Legislator of the Year by the Arizona Planning Association and Most Valuable Player by the Sierra Club, for her work on environmental issues. Giffords also received the Top 10 Technology Legislator of the Year award from the Arizona Technology Council for three straight years - 2003, 2004, 2005, and was named Legislator of the Year by the Mental Health Association of Arizona in 2004.

In November 2006, Giffords was elected for the first time to the House of Representatives from the 8th District of Arizona, a diverse area that covers 9,000 square miles including a 114-mile border with Mexico. She was re-elected in November 2008 and again in November 2010. While in Congress, Giffords served on the House Armed Services, Appropriations, Commerce and Economic Development, and Finance Committees and the Subcommittees on Air and Land Forces and Military Readiness. In addition, she acted as Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, Vice Chair of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group and Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.

On January 8, 2011, Giffords was the target of an assassination attempt during a political rally at a grocery store in suburban Tucson, Arizona. The lone gunman entered the rally and proceeded to shoot twenty people, six of whom died at the scene including a young girl and a federal judge. Giffords was shot in the head and taken to the University Medical Center in Tucson for emergency surgery, after which she was place into a medically induced coma. Miraculously, she survived the gunshot wound and the subsequent surgeries.

In August 2011, Giffords returned to the floor of the Congress for the first time following the attack and submitted her vote on a House bill to a standing ovation.

On January 25, 2012, the day after President Obama's State of the Union address to which she attended, Giffords formally submitted her letter of resignation from Congress. In her statement she said that holding political office was still a calling but that she needed to focus on her recovery efforts. Her letter was publicly read by fellow Democratic representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Giffords is married to Captain Mark Kelly, a Navy Pilot and NASA astronaut, and was the only U.S. Representative in 2011 with an active-duty military spouse.

Q8: What is the number one way the average citizen can make a substantial difference in stopping gun violence?

Let your elected representatives know that you care about this issue! Pro-gun extremists—people who think there should be no gun laws—are a small minority of the country, but they have the gun lobby behind them. We need to make sure that our government knows that most everyday Americans want to see gun safety reform and safer communities. Our elected officials are juggling a lot right now, but gun violence hasn’t gone away during the coronavirus pandemic. In many ways, it’s gotten worse, with shootings surging in a number of cities across the country. We must keep making our voices heard, and keep pushing for the common sense solutions that we know will save lives.


Q9: Why do you think that Congress has not been able to pass the legislation to try to prevent mass shootings?

For decades, the NRA and the gun lobby have suffocated attempts to pass gun safety legislation through Congress. The NRA’s lobbyists push lawmakers to adopt extremist positions on guns that prioritize profits over saving lives. Senate Republicans eagerly embraced this and blocked common sense gun safety laws, while accepting huge donations from the gun lobby. We know that gun laws save lives—but only if we have leaders with the courage to enact them.

Americans want gun reform. Our democracy is based on the principle that Congress should reflect the will of the people. I’m hopeful that the current Congress will have the courage to act.

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