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Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords pledges to keep up gun control work

Retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly sits with his wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she makes a statement before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 30, 2013. UPI/Pete Marovich
Retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly sits with his wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she makes a statement before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 30, 2013. UPI/Pete Marovich | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords says she is as determined to fight for gun control laws, a battle she knows won't be easy -- just like her rehab.

"Many may look at me and see mostly what I have lost," Giffords wrote in a commentary published Wednesday in the New York Times. "But three years ago, dispatched to an almost certain death by an assassin's bullet, I was allowed the opportunity for a new life."

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She said she and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, pledged after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults died, it would be their mission "to change laws and reduce gun violence in a way that was consistent with our moderate beliefs and our identities as proud gun owners."

Giffords was shot at a constituent event in Tucson Jan. 8, 2011, in which six people died and she was among 14 people injured. Jared Loughner, who has a history of mental illness, pleaded guilty to the shootings in 2012 and has been sentenced to seven life terms plus 140 years in prison.

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Giffords said she and Kelly knew their mission wouldn't be easy and "[predictably,] Washington disappointed us during the first year of our work with the organization we began, Americans for Responsible Solutions," Giffords wrote, noting she and her husband remain undaunted.

"Our fight is a lot more like my rehab," she said. "Every day, we must wake up resolved and determined. We'll pay attention to the details; look for opportunities for progress, even when the pace is slow. Some progress may seem small, and we might wonder if the impact is enough, when the need is so urgent."

She urged Congress to pass laws that would reduce gun violence, such as enhance enforcement by passing a law making gun trafficking a serious crime with stiff penalties, making it illegal for stalkers and domestic abusers to buy guns and extend mental health resources into schools and communities "so the dangerously mentally ill find it easier to receive treatment than to buy firearms."

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She also spoke for the first time about an milestone she reached in 2013: movement in her right arm.

"It's fractional progress, and it took a long time, but my arm moves when I tell it to," Giffords said.

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"I'm committed to my rehab and I'm committed to my country and my resolution," she said, concluding that she stands with the "vast majority of Americans who know we can and must be safer" while giving "no ground to those who would convince us the path is too steep."

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