NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Former U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Friday visited the town where 26 people, including 20 children, were killed at an elementary school.
The former Arizona congresswoman met for 45 minutes Friday afternoon with Newtown selectmen Pat Llodra and Jim Gaston, Rob Sibley, the town's deputy land use director, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, said Llodra. Gifford was accompanied by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.
Llodra said they discussed "needed change in gun control legislation" and "greater awareness of mental health issues," including identifying and treating people who have mental health problems.
They talked about "concerns that our society has become desensitized to acts of violence, conflict and aggression," and the need for adults "to examine" their role "in allowing societal values to become eroded," she said.
Llodra said they also discussed "a sense of urgency" to enact change "before the hurt and anger" of the Sandy Hook shootings "leaves the public consciousness." They also agreed that the federal government should "lead the charge" for change, and Congress should have the "courage needed to do the right thing for our citizens," Llodra said.
Newtown has an elected Board of Selectmen that has three members who supervise the administration of town affairs. First Selectman Llodra is the town's chief executive and administrative officer.
Giffords was shot in the head in 2011 by a gunman in a mass shooting that killed six people outside Tucson.
Llodra says she understands Giffords' interest in coming to Newtown.
"Our horrible event of Dec. 14 has some of those same tragic elements as experienced in the Tucson event that so harmed Ms. Giffords and took the lives of innocent citizens," Llodra said.
"I believe that our community will see Ms. Giffords as an ally in the efforts to draw attention to gun control legislation," Llodra said. "I welcome that elevated attention and hope that this visit adds more power to the voice needed to be heard at government levels."
The public and the media were not invited to Giffords' meetings in Newtown.
Giffords' husband, Kelly, called for tighter gun control after 27 people, including 20 children, were killed in Sandy Hook, a village in Newtown, by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza.
On the day of the shootings, Kelly, who retired from NASA after four space shuttle flights, posted on his Facebook page that he learned about the Sandy Hook massacre after waking up in a hotel room in Beijing.
"As we mourn, we must sound a call for our leaders to stand up and do what is right," Kelly wrote. "This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve leaders who have the courage to participate in a meaningful discussion about our gun laws - and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America. This can no longer wait."
Seven days later, Kelly posted on Facebook that he and Giffords were "extremely disappointed" by the National Rifle Association's "defiant and delayed response" to the Sandy Hook shootings.
"The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren't even popular among the law-abiding gun owners it represents," Kelly wrote.
"Today, the NRA chose narrow partisan concerns over the safety of our families and communities," Kelly wrote. "The time for this kind of extreme rhetoric is over. We must have a real conversation about preventing gun violence, because when it comes to protecting our children, families, and neighbors, we can't wait any longer."
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, said on Dec. 23 that new gun regulations wouldn't make children safer and that a White House task force looking into gun violence may try to undermine the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.
On Dec. 21, LaPierre said guns and police officers are needed in all American schools to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings."
USA Today, CBS News