She uttered just 71 words. But Gabrielle Giffords, in delivering her first extended public remarks since she was gunned down in Tucson two years ago, created perhaps the most emotional moment in the fraught debate over the nation’s gun laws.

Giffords spoke slowly, but with purpose, each word chosen carefully. She acknowledged in her statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee that it was hard for her to speak, but that there was something she needed to say.