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Giffords says she’s ‘not bitter about what could have been’ 11 years after shooting

Gabby Giffords
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Former congresswoman and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords stands among vases of flowers that make up the Gun Violence Memorial installation near the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2022. The flowers are meant to represent the number of Americans who die from gun violence each year.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) said that she would rather she’d rather channel the pain she experienced after a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head into purpose than think of her assailant.

“I get asked a lot if I’m bitter about what could have been,” she told Esquire in an interview.

“I can honestly say that I’m not,” she continued. “This acceptance has taken me a while to come by, and I won’t pretend it’s been easy, but that’s been one of the keys to my recovery.”

A gunman opened fire during a constituent meeting Giffords held in Tucson at a supermarket in 2011. The shooting left Giffords critically injured and killed six others. The incident lead her to resign from Congress and co-found a gun violence advocacy organization called Giffords.

“Freedom is being able to exist in public spaces without having to worry whether someone next to you has a gun,” she told Esquire.

A documentary released in theaters last month, titled “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down,” follows the Arizona Democrat’s recovery, including a raw look at the days and months immediately following the shooting.

Giffords told Esquire she still does speech-therapy homework every day.

“If I think about the enormity of the task I have before me — healing my brain from a gunshot wound! — it can feel overwhelming,” she said. “So instead, I focus on completing the exercise in front of me, knowing that if I do that hundreds of times, in time that homework will retrain and rewire my brain to make it easier for me to access words that the aphasia has placed out of reach.”

She told the magazine she doesn’t have a memory of the shooting beyond where she parked her car that day and the gloves she wore. Her husband, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), had to explain what happened more than a month later.

“It took me much longer to really reckon with the extent of my injuries,” Giffords said. “I cried a lot in those early days for the lives that were lost on January 8, 2011, and for what was taken from those of us who survived.”

Tags Gabby Giffords gun violence

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