(Reuters) - President Barack Obama signed into law on Friday the last legislation written by former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded in a Tucson shooting rampage last year, and the U.S. Navy piled on the honors by naming a ship for her.
Giffords, who joined Obama at a signing ceremony at the White House, stepped down from Congress last month to focus on her recovery from a single gunshot wound to the head.
The Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act gives authorities greater powers to crack down on smugglers using low-flying, single-seater aircraft to slip drugs across the U.S. borders from Mexico and Canada.
“I wished Gabby well in her recovery and told her that I expect to see more of her in the months and years to come,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
“I‘m confident that while this legislation may have been her last act as a congresswoman, it will not be her last act of public service,” he added.
Giffords was known as a centrist willing to work with Republican colleagues in Congress. Obama said the fact that the legislation passed unanimously showed “just how much Gabby is respected by her colleagues in Congress in both parties.”
Giffords was severely wounded when a gunman armed with a semiautomatic pistol opened fire on her first congressional outreach event of 2011 on January 8 of last year, killing six people and wounding 13 others.
In a separate announcement on Friday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said a 419-foot combat vessel will be named the USS Gabrielle Giffords to honor the Arizona Democrat who he said was known for supporting the military and veterans.
“I am pleased to honor Gabrielle Giffords and the people of Arizona with the naming of this ship,” he said in a statement.
Construction of the 419-foot combat vessel, designed to operate in coastal waters in roles including mine and anti-submarine warfare, was announced last December. It is to be built by a shipyard in Alabama.
Giffords is married to former astronaut Mark Kelly, a U.S. Navy captain and naval aviator.
Mabus said the ship’s sponsor will be Roxanna Green, the mother of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed attending the “Congress on Your Corner” event where Giffords was shot.
Accused shooter Jared Loughner was charged with 49 crimes, including attempting to assassinate Giffords, who was left with broken speech and a marked limp and continues to receive intensive rehabilitation therapy.
Loughner pleaded not guilty and was found mentally unfit to stand trial at court hearing last May.