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Gabrielle Giffords visits Newtown

By David Ariosto, CNN
updated 10:35 AM EST, Sat January 5, 2013
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a mass shooting two years ago, visited Newtown on Friday.
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a mass shooting two years ago, visited Newtown on Friday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: She discussed gun control and mental health treatment with local leaders
  • Gabrielle Giffords makes a private visit to the Connecticut town
  • After the Newtown shooting, Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, vented his frustrations
  • The former Democrat lawmaker retired from Congress last year to focus on her recovery

(CNN) -- The former Arizona congresswoman who survived a mass shooting in her district roughly two years ago paid a visit Friday to Newtown, Connecticut, where last month a gunman killed 27 people and himself in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

Gabrielle Giffords made the trip with her husband, Mark Kelly. The couple met with local and state leaders to discuss gun control legislation, mental health identification and treatment, and "concerns for the erosion of our societal values such that we are increasingly desensitized to violence," according to Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra.

"There is an agreed-upon sense of urgency that we need to take action while we have the world's attention," Llodra said of the meeting.

Giffords retired from Congress last year to focus on her recovery after she was shot in the head in January 2011. Giffords was one of 19 people shot at a political event at a shopping plaza in Tucson, Arizona, and spent months relearning how to speak and walk. Six people died in the encounter, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge.

Gun control and public health

After the Newtown shooting on December 14, her husband vented his frustrations on Twitter.

"When will we address this problem as a nation? The time is now!" Kelly wrote.

Giffords' visit came one day after Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy set a two-month deadline for a special commission to address the state's gun laws, mental health policies and public security issues. He called for recommendations to be brought to the state legislature by March 15.

"We don't know the underlying cause of this tragedy, and we probably never will," Malloy said, but that is "no reason for inaction."

Friday's visit also coincided with the second day of school for students from Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 of their classmates -- all ages 6 or 7 -- were killed last month. The gunman, Adam Lanza, also gunned down six adults after killing his mother, an avid gun collector, in her Newtown home.

Authorities say security measures have been increased at Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby Connecticut town of Monroe, where Sandy Hook students are currently attending class. Their former school remains part of an active police investigation.

Giffords met earlier this week with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss gun control, a topic that the three-term mayor has pressed on the national stage, urging tighter restrictions on high-capacity magazines and assault rifles.

Despite emotions, little happens legislatively after mass shootings

CNN's Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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