President Obama made what’s becoming a rare reference to gun violence Thursday after he met with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot by a gunman four years ago to the day.
Mr. Obama met with Ms. Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, before giving a speech in Phoenix. He told the crowd that the former lawmaker is a “hero.”
“Gabby is doing great,” Mr. Obama said. “She looks wonderful. And she’s got the same energy and passion that she always has had. Even as she waged her own fight to recover, she’s fought to prevent the next tragedies from happening to others.”
Ms. Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in Tuscon in January 2011. Six people were killed in the attack by the lone gunman, who was captured by police.
That incident, and other mass shootings, preceded a push by Mr. Obama for Congress to pass a measure that would have required background checks for gun purchases. But that effort failed in the Senate in April 2013, and nowadays Mr. Obama rarely speaks publicly about gun control.
Ms. Giffords resigned from the House in January 2012. Mr. Obama said he is “proud of her.”
“This was a remarkable meeting for me because it was four years ago today that Gabby and some other wonderful Arizonans were gunned down outside the supermarket in Tucson,” he said. “It was a tough day for a lot of folks down there. We keep them in [our] thoughts and prayers.”
The president also made a joke about Ms. Giffords’ brother-in-law, Scott Kelly, who is also an astronaut. He is scheduled for a mission beginning this spring in which he’ll spend one year at the International Space Station.
“I know there’s some folks in Washington who wish I was going to be in space for a year, but … I’m still around,” Mr. Obama said. “Because I got some work to do.”
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