Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunman’s rampage, has been named this year’s recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced the award this morning, citing Gifford’s political, personal, and physical courage in her “fearless public advocacy for policy reforms aimed at reducing gun violence.”
“Gabby Giffords has inspired the world with her bravery and her dedication to making change through the political process,” said Caroline Kennedy, president of the foundation. “Instead of retreating following the tragic shooting that ended her Congressional career, she has recommitted herself to fighting for a more peaceful society free from hate and violence. She is a true Profile in Courage.”
On Jan. 8, 2011, Giffords and 18 others were shot during a constituent meeting she was holding in a supermarket parking lot in Casas Adobes, Ariz., in the Tucson metropolitan area. Six people died, including Arizona District Court Chief Judge John Roll; Gabe Zimmerman, one of Representative Giffords’s staffers; and a 9-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green.
Giffords was holding the meeting, called “Congress on Your Corner” in the parking lot of a Safeway store when Jared Lee Loughner drew a pistol and shot her in the head at point-blank range before proceeding to fire on other people.
After a year of rehabilitation, she resigned from Congress in order to focus on her recovery. On the second anniversary of the shooting, Giffords and her husband, retired Navy captain and astronaut Mark Kelly, launched Americans for Responsible Solutions to encourage elected officials to support measures to prevent gun violence and promote responsible gun ownership.
Giffords will be presented with the award by Caroline Kennedy at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on May 5.