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Gabrielle Giffords rallies for Clinton, gun control in Dix Hills

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, center, speaks while sitting

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, center, speaks while sitting with Rep. Steve Israel, left, and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, as they campaign for Hillary Clinton on Long Island at Five Towns College in Dix Hills, Sunday, April 17, 2016. Credit: Steve Pfost

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined gun control activists in Dix Hills on Sunday to rally support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Giffords, who represented Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, was shot in the head in 2011 and critically wounded while speaking with constituents in the parking lot of a Tucson supermarket. On Sunday, she appeared at Five Towns College with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) along with families who lost members to gun violence.

“Hillary is tough. Hillary is courageous. She will fight to make our families safer. In the White House, she will stand up to the gun lobby,” said Giffords, a Democrat from Tucson. “Speaking is difficult for me. But come January, I want to say these two words: Madame President.”

Since leaving office, Giffords has toured with her husband advocating tougher gun laws.

Kelly and Israel criticized Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary, for voting against the Brady law and saying he did not think victims of gun crimes should be allowed to sue gun manufacturers.

Kelly and Giffords highlighted their New York roots. Kelly is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, and Giffords received a master’s degree from Cornell University in upstate Ithaca.

Israel recalled that it was his father, Howard Israel, who suggested that he tap Giffords for a congressional run. Giffords was then a state senator from Arizona, and Israel, a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, flew out to meet with her.

Other speakers on Sunday included Rita Kestenbaum, of Bellmore, whose daughter Carol and her best friend were killed by a gunman in 2007 when Carol was a sophomore at Arizona State University.

“We start to get a little numb,” Kestenbaum said. “I don’t want prayers. . . . I want anger.”

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