TODAY   |  November 09, 2012

‘Gabby’s eyes were locked on’ Loughner, Kelly says

Mark Kelly, the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, tells TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie that his wife “spent a lot of time looking” at Jared Loughner during the sentencing hearing for the man who shot her in the head during a 2011 rampage as a shopping plaza in Tucson, Ariz.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> husband mark kelly is with us now exclusively. mark, good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> it could not have been easy to be inside that courtroom. what was it like for you and for gabby to come face to face with this man? did she express anything about it afterwards to you?

>> this was something we, you know, we've been thinking about for the last month. before that she wasn't really interested in attending but about a month ago she changed her mind and thought it would be a good idea for her to be there to get some sense of resolution to what happened. inside the courtroom it was pretty comfortable until the moment that he walked in and then it was pretty intense, you know, to be sitting just probably about 30 feet from where jared loughner was. you know, gabby was sitting up in her chair and sitting up straight, spent a lot of time looking at him. it was the first time she really had ever seen him.

>> loughner, of course, didn't say anything, no emotion, no apologies. did you feel when you were speaking that you were getting through to him, that he was listening at all?

>> absolutely. as gabby and i went up to the podium i asked judge burns if we could address loughner directly, so we moved to the left side of the podium so we could look directly at him. you know, gabby 's eyes were locked on his the entire time as i read our statement, you know, i kept looking up and his expression would change. he was paying attention to what we were saying. he wasn't really happy at points, and, you know, i almost felt like, you know, during that whole, you know, few minutes that he and gabby were having quite the staring contest.

>> in your statement you said gabby struggles to walk. her right arm is paralyzed. she is partially blind. gabby works harder in one minute of an hour fighting to make each individual moment count for something than most of us work in an entire day. how is gabby doing? what strides are you still hoping she'll make in her recovery?

>> well, she is doing really well. i mean, her right arm doesn't improve much but her walking improves a little. the thing that we see that improves the most is her ability to communicate. it is also the thing she works the hardest on. you know, i don't see changes over days or even over weeks now but month to month she does improve and i'm hopeful that that'll continue for years. anecdotally from people around the country that have similar injuries, this is something that you typically if you work hard will improve for the rest of your life.

>> you talked about her spirit. there have to be moments though when this is such a struggle when you think about all that has been taken from her.

>> yes, it is. you know, it's a struggle every single day for her. it's difficult for her to do almost anything that was easy before. she's not at the point where she can even drive a car. that is something she is looking forward to at some point but as i mentioned in the statement, her vision is an issue as well as her arm. there are things she looks forward to. she is generally in a very good mood and she continues to work really hard on her recovery.

>> before i let you go, you gave a stinging rebuke in your statement to political leaders who haven't done anything about gun control . you and gabby are gun owners and supporters of the second amendment. what do you hope will change? are you expecting president obama to do something about gun control in a second term?

>> you know, i don't know if he is going to address that. he certainly, i don't expect him to in the beginning part of his second term but, you know, we have a congress that could address it as well. we've got state legislatures , governors. this is obviously a problem. i mean, we have gun violence that happens time and time again in this country. i think almost everybody would agree that we have a problem. we've got very smart people and we've got committed legislators, you know, that can work on the issue and it should be worked on. i think, you know, repeatedly we lost the opportunity and i hope somebody picks up that mantle and tries to do something about it.

>> well, this obviously underscores the need for the issue to be addressed in some way. mark kelly , thank you so much.