Gabby Giffords to testify at hearing on gun violence

WASHINGTON Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:48am EST

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Congressman Ron Barber (not pictured) leave the Pima County Recorder's office after casting their ballots in downtown Tucson, Arizona in this file photo taken November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Samantha Sais

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Congressman Ron Barber (not pictured) leave the Pima County Recorder's office after casting their ballots in downtown Tucson, Arizona in this file photo taken November 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Samantha Sais

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Representative Gabby Giffords, grievously wounded in a 2011 mass shooting, will make an appearance on Wednesday at the first congressional hearing on gun violence since last month's Connecticut elementary school massacre.

According to a senior Democratic aide and a person familiar with the proceedings, Giffords will testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The Democratic-led panel is considering a wide range of reforms, including a White House-backed ban on military-style assault weapons like those used by a gunman at the school in Newton, Connecticut, to kill 20 children and six adults.

Giffords will be accompanied by her husband, retired U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly, who is scheduled to testify. The couple recently founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group intended to combat gun violence.

Giffords and her husband visited Newtown to meet with survivors after the massacre.

"We must come together today as Americans seeking common cause," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in his prepared opening statement.

Facing opposition by pro-gun groups that assert that new restrictions on firearms would violate their constitutional right to bear arms, Leahy, a gun owner, said: "Let us forego sloganeering, demagoguery and partisan recriminations."

"This is too important for all that. We all abhor the recent tragedies - in just the last two years - in an elementary school in Connecticut, in a movie theater in Colorado, in a sacred place of worship in Wisconsin, and in front of a shopping mall in Arizona" where Gifford was among 13 wounded, six fatally.

Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who was the target of an assassination attempt, survived a head wound but later retired from the House of Representatives.

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Jackie Frank and Will Dunham)

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