US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, struggling to form the words in her first extended interview since being shot in the head in a January rampage, said she will not return to Congress until she is “better”.
“No. Better,” she said in a response to a question about whether she wanted to return to Congress.
As she gestured as if to help her form the words, her husband Mark Kelly completed the thought: “She wants to get better.”
At that point, interviewer Diane Sawyer also tried to get Ms Giffords to summarise her mindset, asking whether she was thinking she would go back to Congress if she got better. “And that’s where you’re at right now?” Sawyer asked.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Ms Giffords replied.
The Arizona shooting reopened a national debate over gun use and ownership. The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the US Constitution, alongside such basic rights as freedom of speech and of religion. State laws on gun control vary widely.
Proponents of gun control argue that the states with more guns have higher death rates. But some Americans are undeterred and blame incidents on such social ills as broken families or a culture of violence, or just bad luck.
The story of the recovering congresswoman and her astronaut husband has riveted people in the US, and their memoir, titled Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, is set for release today.
The television interview comes as fellow victims of the shooting came to Washington to testify in favour of a gun-control bill. They said Ms Giffords’ appearance represents a milestone for them, helping them cope with the trauma they have endured over the past 10 months.
About a dozen survivors and family members were in Washington lobbying for legislation that would extend criminal background checks to all gun sales and enhance the quality of the FBI’s criminal background checks.