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Obama calls Gabby Giffords a 'hero' on anniversary of shooting

Four years ago Thursday, a gunman shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head, critically wounding the congresswoman and killing six others.
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Gabby Giffords speaks in New York on May, 6, 2014.

"She is a hero."

That was President Barack Obama's description Thursday of former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured four years ago in a shooting rampage that left six people dead at a Tucson, Arizona supermarket. The president, who was in Arizona Thursday to speak about housing, met with Giffords and her husband, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, to mark the four-year anniversary of the shooting. Giffords now struggles to speak and has weakened eyesight.

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White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted a photograph on Thursday afternoon of Obama with Giffords and Kelly. They discussed gun control efforts, according to a spokesman for Giffords' super PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, a pro-gun control group.

Giffords and Kelly also recorded a YouTube video to describe their commitment to end the gun violence "that is ripping our communities apart."

"Enough is enough," Giffords said. "We need you more than ever." On Twitter and Facebook, Giffords thanked her former colleagues for observing a moment of silence recognizing the 2011 tragedy. Last year, she went skydiving in Arizona to mark the third anniversary of the shooting.

Giffords resigned from Congress two years ago and has become a public advocate for gun control. With help from her husband, Giffords established Americans for Responsible Solutions, which aims to push legislators to act on gun control. Ahead of the midterm elections, the organization pledged to support candidates from both sides of the aisle who worked to reduce gun violence.

The group also released other advertisements that questioned Giffords' former colleagues in Washington about their failure to act and pass reform following the December 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School Newtown, Connecticut.

For almost two years, Congress has been in a stalemate on gun-safety legislation, following the failure of the Senate to pass a comprehensive and bipartisan background checks bill last April. In that time, nearly 100 school shootings have occurred on American soil, the FBI says mass shootings are on the rise, and active-shooter and lockdown drills have become part of children’s academic routines.