"Too many children are dying, we must do something," said the woman who was grievously injured in a mass shooting while meeting with constituents at a Tucson shopping center in 2010. Giffords admitted that a solution will be "hard" to achieve, but added "the time is now" to get it done.
Giffords spoke first -- even before Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy gave his opening statement. She was escorted from the chamber, apparently at her own request, immediately after speaking.
In his opening statement, Sen. Leahy said people have a right to self-defense, and Americans' Second Amendment rights are not at risk. "What is at risk are lives," he said. "Lives are at risk when responsible people fail to stand up for laws that will keep guns out of the hands of those who use them to commit murder and especially mass murders."
Leahy requested that Wednesday's discussion focus on "additional statutory measures to better protect our children and all Americans."
In his opening statement, ranking Republican Sen. Charles Grassley urged that any forthcoming legislation "actually be effective in reducing gun violence."
Others slated to speak Wednesday include Gifford's husband, Mark Kelly; and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.
Kelly told the committee that both he and his wife are gun owners: "We believe wholly and completely in the Second Amendment, and that it confers upon all Americans the right to own a firearm for protection, collection and recreation," he said in his prepared testimony.
But, Kelly added, "Rights demand responsibility. And this right does not extend to terrorists, it does not extend to criminals, and it does not extend to the mentally ill."
"When dangerous people get guns, we are all vulnerable, he said.