Former U.S. congresswoman and gun violence victim Gabrielle Giffords delivered a forceful plea for gun control at a Senate hearing Wednesday.
"Violence is a big problem," she told the hearing held in the wake of last year's Newtown elementary school massacre. "Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something!"
Giffords herself was badly wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in which a gunman killed six people and wounded 13. She has since given up her Congress seat to focus on her recovery.
Walking slowly into the chamber, Giffords was accompanied by her husband Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, who was also due to address the lawmakers.
The couple have become strong advocates for gun control.
"This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans," she said, speaking haltingly due to the brain injuries she sustained in the shooting.
"Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important - violence is a big problem," she said. "Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something!"
Giffords acknowledged that action would be hard but called on her former colleagues to "be bold, be courageous" and act.
The hearing came as lawmakers weigh stricter gun laws in the wake of the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut state in December that left 20 children and six adults dead.
US President Barack Obama has called for a ban on assault weapons, stricter background checks and stronger mental health measures in the wake of the tragedy.
Action however will be politically difficult as the powerful gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association has opposed restrictions as it defends what it considers to be the constitutional right to own guns.
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