TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords _ still recovering from a shooting three years ago _ said Thursday she might consider a return to political office.
The Arizona Democrat kept the door open when asked about such a possibility, saying “well, a little later” and “maybe” during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
The interview was aired a day after bell-ringing and flag-raising ceremonies were held in Tucson to remember the six people killed and 13 injured in the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting that occurred as Giffords met with constituents outside a grocery store.
To commemorate the anniversary and how far she has come, Giffords jumped from an airplane in Arizona in a tandem skydive.
Giffords, who did the “Today” interview with husband Mark Kelly at her side, said she felt “happy and sad” on the anniversary but believes it’s time to move on.
She said she’s making slow progress in her rehabilitation and wants to work on her Spanish and resume playing the French horn.
The interview was conducted by “Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie, who said a person associated with Giffords had contacted NBC several weeks ago about Giffords’ intention to make the parachute jump that was broadcast on the NBC show.
Broadcast video showed Giffords and other jumpers step out the back of a twin-engine plane and join hands midair during their descent under a blue sky.
Giffords landed on a grass lawn without injury. She waved and blew kisses to onlookers who cheered and applauded.
“She was the least nervous person on the plane,” said Jimmy Hatch, a former Navy SEAL who accompanied the group. “They did a little moment of silence at the drop zone … The emotion was really heavy. Then she smiled and said, `Let’s go.'”
Giffords has become a leader of Americans for Responsible Solutions, a national organization she founded with her husband to rival the powerful pro-gun lobby.
The group has struggled to bring about major change in its first year of existence, but the couple is confident they’ve laid the groundwork for success in future election cycles.
Giffords and Kelly formed their organization just weeks after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Since then, Congress has done nothing to tighten the nation’s gun laws.
Some states, including Colorado and Delaware, pushed ahead with their own gun-control measures, while others moved in the opposite direction. Arizona, the home state of Giffords, passed a law that requires municipalities to sell weapons surrendered at buyback programs instead of destroying them.
Kelly said his group raised more than $11 million between January 2013 and July 2013.
“So we’re going to have the resources to be effective in the next election cycle in 2014,” he said.
In an opinion piece for The New York Times on Wednesday, Giffords wrote about her struggles to recover, calling it “gritty, painful, frustrating work.”
“I had planned to spend my 40s continuing my public service and starting a family,” she wrote. “Instead, I’ve spent the past three years learning how to talk again, how to walk again.”
Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced in November 2012 to seven consecutive life sentences, plus 140 years, after he pleaded guilty to 19 federal charges in the shooting.
In Tucson, about 100 residents attended a ceremony on Wednesday outside the University of Arizona Medical Center, where the injured were treated.
Other ceremonies and moments of silence took place across the city.
“I think the commemorations are, in large part, recognition of our community’s collective care and compassion and grit to go on,” Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said.
Pam Simon, 66, a Giffords aide at the time who was shot in the chest, reflected with crisp memories and a positive outlook.
“When we stop on an anniversary to really reflect, sometimes it opens the wounds a little bit,” she said. “But it’s also gratifying in a way to see the community come out again and remember.”
Tang reported from Phoenix. Paul Davenport contributed from Phoenix.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them