Kelly ‘proud’ of Giffords’s Senate testimony

“For her to get up there ... as people can see, it was extremely difficult for her,” said Kelly on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “But she had a message that I think folks really need to listen to.”

Giffords, who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt two years ago, made a dramatic appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Reading a statement, Giffords, who suffered severe brain injuries in the attack, told lawmakers they “must act” to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.

"Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something,” Giffords said. "Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you."

“She’s a victim of gun violence, she personally knows what this experience is like,” said Kelly, who also offered testimony before lawmakers.

The Judiciary Committee heard from a number of supporters and opponents of tighter firearm restrictions as lawmakers consider proposals to stem the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

President Obama has signed a number of executive actions to strengthen enforcement of the nation’s gun laws and is pressing lawmakers to enact bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity clips and institute universal background checks.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has said he hopes to mark up legislation to send to the Senate floor by the end of February, but any measures will face an uphill climb in the face of opposition from GOP lawmakers and the National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby.

Since her shooting, Giffords and Kelly have been vocal proponents of tougher laws, and earlier this month launched a new group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, to support pro-gun-control lawmakers and counter the influence of NRA.

Kelly said Thursday he was optimistic there was support for universal background checks.

“When you look at the NRA the membership itself, 74 percent of the NRA members agree with Gabby and I that there should be a universal background check before buying a gun,” he said. “We’ve got those folks on our side on this issue. It gets a little more complicated with assault weapons and high capacity magazines, but I think we can have a reasonable conversation.”