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Gabrielle Giffords speaks at a Senate hearing on reducing gun violence

9:54 AM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

The Senate on Wednesday is holding its first hearing on ways to reduce gun violence since 20 Connecticut students were killed in a December mass shooting.

President Obama proposed a new ban on assault weapons, background checks on gun buyers and limits on ammunition magazines.

Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman shot in the head in 2011, started the hearing by urging Congress to "be bold" and to do something to reduce the number of children killed by violence. Our live coverage of the hearing begins here:

10:33 a.m. Kelly says he and Giffords "aren't here as victims. We're speaking to you today as Americans. We're both gun owners and we take that right and the responsibilities that come with it very seriously."

10:32 a.m. First witness is Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and Giffords' husband. The couple have founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a PAC aimed at reducing gun violence.

10:27 a.m. Grassley criticizes executive actions taken by Obama to reduce gun violence, saying there is not enough detail provided about the specifics of each move. He also says they could have been issued before Newtown.

10:24 a.m. Grassley says any discussion about what to do needs to include focus on mental health. He also condemns violent video games. "Banning guns based on their appearance does not make sense," Grassley says about proposed assault weapons ban. He also questions limit on ammunition magazines.

10:21 a.m. Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, is now speaking. He says no one will ever forget where they were when they learned about the "evil act" that happened at Newtown. "Clearly violent crimes and those who commit them are a plague on our society," he says.

10:20 a.m. Leahy says he hopes hearing will build consensus around "common sense solutions." He urges the new 113th Congress to act in a bipartisan fashion -- something that has been missing in recent years on Capitol Hill.

10:17 a.m. Leahy says "Americans are looking to us for solutions and for action."
He says it is a "simple matter of common sense" to plug loopholes in the law dealing with background checks for gun owners.
"The Second Amendment is secure and will remain secure and protected," Leahy says.

10:15 a.m. Leahy begins his opening statement, saying "America's heart was broken" on Dec. 14 when 20 children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn.
"I hope we can forgo partisan recrimination. It's too important for that. We should all be here as Americans."

10:12 a.m. Giffords is speaking haltingly, slowly enunciating her words. "This is an important conversation for our children," she says. "Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. ... It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you."

10:11 a.m. Leahy lays down the rules for the hearing, asking for respect on this "serious subject." Capitol police will remove anyone who is disorderly. "We're going to hear a lot of different perspectives on gun violence," he says.

10:09 a.m. Giffords and Kelly are being escorted to the witness table by Leahy and Grassley. The photographers are snapping away.

10:01 a.m. ET Before the hearing, Giffords sent out a tweet thanking Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, "for starting this conversation."

USA TODAY

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