TODAY   |  January 31, 2013

Giffords: ‘We must do something’ about guns

In Newtown Wednesday night, family members of Sandy Hook victims and former Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords gave emotional pleas in favor of gun control, urging lawmakers to take action. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> there was an emotional meeting in newtown , connecticut , where some of the parents killed at the sandy hook elementary school spoke out about gun violence . nbc capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell has more on that.

>> good morning. it was hard to watch because the families living with the fallout of gun violence know how hard a climate it is to get any kind of change to gun law . in connecticut and washington, they want officials to know what they've been through.

>> reporter: their grief and rage barely contained.

>> i remember looking at him in his casket and holding his hand. no parent should hold this memory of their child.

>> reporter: the fathers.

>> the liberty of any person to own a military assault weapon and high capacity magazine and keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life.

>> reporter: husbands.

>> these are not partisan issues. resist distraction from special interests .

>> reporter: and mothers at sandy hook elementary.

>> you do not use a gun against someone else unless you're angry or a victim.

>> reporter: together wednesday night in newtown with connecticut officials from both parties grappling with the complex balance of gun safety and gun rights . reinforced with applause. many there demanded new gun restrictions, like bans on assault weapons and high capacity clips. the same kind of pain and frustration drove gabby giffords and husband, mark kelly , back to capitol hill wednesday two years after the shooting that nearly took her life and did take much of her eyesight and ability to spea speak.

>> we must do something.

>> reporter: working from her speech therapists handwritten notes , giffords pushed herself to deliver her handwritten message.

>> you must act. be bold, be courageous.

>> reporter: but a different message from the head of the national rifle association . wayne lapierre who rejected democrats proposal to inject background checks at gun shows and gun sales.

>> we have to look at what works and never works. my problem with background checks , you will never get criminals to go through universal background checks .

>> that was the first hearing related to guns since newtown . others are planned like mental health issues and dealing with violence in video games . senate democrats will have to lead the charge on this and say they expect to have some kind of bill written to get it going over the next month.

>> kelly o'donnell in washington, what i'm sure will be an emotional moment, the chorus from sandy hook elementary school will be singing "america the beautiful" before sunday's super bowl game.