Former Rep. Gabby Giffords attends a news conference outside Safeway grocery store where they asked Congress to provide stricter gun control in the United States, March 6, 2013 in Tucson, Ariz.
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Three years after nearly losing her life, Giffords taking flight


Three years ago last week, a gunman opened fire at one of her outdoor events in Tucson, Arizona. He killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She was shot in the head, and is still partially paralyzed and undergoing extensive rehabilitation. Nearly two years after Giffords was shot, a gunman attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

That shooting prompted Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, to launch Americans for Responsible Solutions, to persuade elected officials into more immediate action on gun control. Despite that effort, there have been at least 16 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, and attempts at more substantive gun control–like the background checks bill the Senate rejected in April–have failed in Congress.

But still, Gabby will not give up. Having turned her apparent weakness into a beacon of strength, resilience, and unyielding hope in the face of the ongoing struggle for better gun laws, Giffords is our Foot Soldier this week.

On the third anniversary of the Tucson shooting, her voice soared to new heights–both literally and figuratively–in the nation’s gun control dialogue. Not only did she go skydiving, she also penned an op-ed in the New York Times called “The Lessons of Physical Therapy,” where she wrote: 

“I’ve spent the past three years learning how to talk again, how to walk again. I had to learn to sign my name with my left hand. It’s gritty, painful, frustrating work, every day.” She continues, “Our fight is a lot more like my rehab. 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.”

Gabby Giffords’ skydiving demonstrates her determination to triumph over her injuries as she champions gun control. And she simply asks our elected officials to match her strength, her toughness and her resolve:

 “I’ve seen grit overcome paralysis. My resolution today is that Congress achieve the same.”

For her fight for gun control and the hope that grit will eventually overcome legislative paralysis, Gabby Giffords is our Foot Soldier of the week.

Melissa Harris-Perry and Melissa Harris-Perry Foot Soldiers

Three years after nearly losing her life, Giffords taking flight