Many of the survivors of Loughner’s rampage were in the packed federal courtroom for the sentencing hearing. Also present were relatives of those killed in the attack, who included John M. Roll, a federal judge; Gabe Zimmerman, a member of Giffords’s staff; and 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Kelly paid tribute to each of the victims in his remarks, before continuing:
“Gabby would give anything to take away the grief you visited upon the Morrises, the Schnecks and the Stoddards — anything to heal the bodies and the psyches of your other victims,” Kelly said.
Giffords was critically wounded in the attack, of which she was thought to be the primary target. Her injuries, Kelly said, damaged her ability to speak and to see and left her partially paralyzed.
The 42-year-old Democrat resigned her House seat in January, but she appeared at the Democratic National Convention in September to deliver the Pledge of Allegiance.
On Thursday, Kelly was critical of Arizona’s governor, Republican Jan Brewer, saying she was among the “feckless” political leaders who had failed to take on gun control. He cited Brewer’s remark after the attack that the shooting did not “have anything to do with the size of the magazine or the caliber of the gun.”
Arizona gun laws are among the most lenient in the country. The state allows anyone 21 or older to own a firearm and to carry it concealed, and gun owners can carry their firearms almost anywhere in Arizona, including inside the State Capitol and other government buildings. In January 2010, Brewer signed a bill that repealed a state law that required gun owners to have permits to carry concealed guns.
On Thursday, Kelly ended his statement to the court by paying tribute to his wife.
“Even amid all that was lost, Gabby and I give thanks for her life, her spirit and her intellect, which are a continued force in the world despite what you’ve done,” he said.
Loughner, who was declared schizophrenic after the attack, pleaded guilty in August to 19 federal charges in the shooting rampage. Arizona authorities have said they will not file state charges against Loughner.
William Branigin contributed to this report.