Former lawmaker Giffords to visit Newtown on Friday

Thu Jan 3, 2013 8:05pm EST

(Reuters) - Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a mass shooting in her Arizona district two years ago, plans to visit Newtown, Connecticut, the site of last month's deadly elementary school massacre, the Connecticut lieutenant governor's office said Thursday.

Giffords plans to attend a private event at a local home on Friday, Steven Jensen, spokesman for Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, said in an email. The event will have no media access and Giffords' plans are still developing and may change.

Giffords retired from Congress last year to focus on her recovery from the January 2011 shooting in Tucson that left six dead and 12 others wounded.

Giffords, shot in the head in the attack, has become a symbol for proponents of stricter gun control in the national debate about the right to bear arms, which has grown louder since the December 14 attack in Newtown.

Giffords' planned visit would be three weeks to the day since 20-year-old Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in rural Newtown, about 70 miles northeast of New York City, and killed 20 first graders and six school staff members.

Before the attack, Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their home about 5 miles from the school. Lanza took his own life as police arrived at the Sandy Hook school.

On Thursday, the more than 400 children who escaped without physical harm returned to school for the first time since the assault. (Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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