Gabrielle Giffords

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Updated On January 4, 2022
Tucson, Arizona
Birth Sign
Tucson, Arizona

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Dee “Gabby” Giffords is an American politician. She made headlines after surviving an assassination attempt (although with a significant brain injury). She attended ‘Scripps College’ and ‘Cornell University,’ both in Arizona, where she was born and raised.’ She got a position in the ‘Arizona House of Representatives’ after spending a few years to her family’s business. Later, she was elected to the ‘Arizona State Senate,’ becoming the youngest woman to do so. Giffords left the ‘Senate’ to run for a congressional position in Arizona’s 8th district, becoming the state’s first Jewish congresswoman in the ‘US House of Representatives.’ During her time in office, she was a staunch supporter of border security, alternative energy development, and servicemen and their families’ needs. She was elected to the House of Representatives three times in a row. However, she was shot in the head by a gunman called Jared Loughner near the start of her third term while visiting with constituents. She completed rehabilitation and was able to restore some of her talents. She resigned from her position a year later. She is the first living woman to have a ‘Navy’ battleship named after her in over two centuries. She is married to Mark Kelly, a former ‘NASA’ astronaut and US Navy Captain.

Childhood and Adolescence

Spencer Giffords, a Jewish father, and Gloria Kay (née Fraser), a Christian Scientist mother, gave birth to Giffords on June 8, 1970, in Tucson, Arizona. She was reared in a mixed religious household but now practices Judaism. Her father was a member of the local school board and ran the family business, ‘El Campo Tire Warehouses.’ Her mother worked as an art restorer and novelist.
Melissa Giffords is Giffords’ older sister, while Alejandro is her older half-brother. Summer camping with Melissa across the border in Mexico was one of her childhood adventures. She worked in the stable to pay for her riding lessons because she liked horses.
Giffords attended Tucson’s ‘University High School’ and graduated in 1988. She, too, was a ‘Girl Scout.’ She earned a BA in sociology and Latin American history from ‘Scripps Institution,’ a women’s college in California, in 1993. She then received a ‘William Fulbright Scholarship’ and spent a year studying in Chihuahua, Mexico. She graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with a master’s degree in regional planning in 1996.
She worked as an associate at ‘Price Waterhouse’ in New York City for six months after finishing her education. She returned to Tucson to run her family’s tire warehouses, ‘El Campo Tire Warehouses.’ She sold the company to ‘Goodyear Tire’ in 2000.

Career of Gabrielle Giffords

Giffords became interested in assisting her community while working in Tucson. She enrolled as a ‘Republican’ at the age of 18, inspired by ‘Supreme Court’ justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She did, however, move to the ‘Democratic Party’ in 1999.
She was elected to the ‘House of Representatives of Arizona’ in 2001. She held this position until 2003. She ran for the ‘Arizona Senate’ in 2002 and won, making her the youngest woman ever elected to the ‘Arizona Senate.’ In 2003, she was elected to the ‘Senate,’ and in 2004, she was re-elected.
Giffords worked on issues like healthcare expenses and low educational accomplishment while in the legislature. Her efforts on mental health bills earned her the title of ‘Legislator of the Year’ in 2004 from the ‘Mental Health Association of Arizona.’ She was granted the ‘Outstanding Legislature Award’ by the ‘Arizona Family Literacy’ program in 2003 for her efforts to improve education and healthcare for the children of her state.
She resigned from the ‘Senate’ in December 2005 to run for the ‘US House of Representatives’ elections. Representative Jim Kolbe’s seat in Arizona’s 8th congressional district was being vacated, and Gifford launched her candidacy for that position on January 24, 2006. Bill Clinton and other prominent ‘Democrats’ endorsed her. After a primary election on September 12, 2006, she was nominated by her party.
She was elected with 54 percent of the vote on November 7, 2006. ‘Republican’ Randy Graf, her opponent, received 42 percent of the vote. She was the first woman of Jewish origin from Arizona to be elected to the ‘Congress.’
Gifford faced a strong challenge from ‘Republican’ candidate Timothy Bee, the president of the ‘Arizona State Senate’ and a childhood classmate, in her second term elections in 2008. With 56.20 percent of the vote, she won the election. On November 5, 2010, she was re-elected for her third term, defeating ‘Republican’ challenger Jesse Kelly by a razor-thin margin.
When she was sworn in on January 3, 2007, Gifford became the third woman from Arizona to serve in the US ‘Congress.’ She spoke about a variety of challenges in her state, including immigration and border security. She worked to reduce violence associated with border security and drug trafficking along the Mexico–Arizona border. With 60 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, she convened a drug violence summit.
She was also involved in a number of other initiatives, including support for embryonic stem-cell research, the creation of the ‘Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve,’ and raising the minimum wage. She supported a national cowboy day and introduced legislation prohibiting the open market sale of F-14 aircraft parts.
Giffords sponsored ‘Congress on Your Corner’ events in Tucson on a regular basis, where she visited and interacted with her residents. She served on the ‘Armed Services’ and ‘Foreign Affairs’ committees during her second term. She was also a member of the ‘Science, Space, and Technology Committee,’ chairing the ‘Space and Aeronautics’ sub-committee. Giffords was also a member of the ‘Blue Dog Coalition,’ a fiscally conservative group.
During her third term, she voted in favor of a $600-million border security bill, which President Barack Obama eventually signed. This enabled the hiring of a thousand additional border control agents and other employees.
Giffords also pushed for small-business tax relief and was a vocal supporter of the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,’ which she had to fight hard for. Her office was later vandalized. This was thought to be tied to her support for the legislation.
Giffords was shot in the head in an assassination attempt on January 8, 2011, while attending a ‘Congress on Your Corner’ gathering outside a ‘Safeway’ grocery store in Tucson. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, opened fire with a 9mm pistol and a 33-round magazine, killing six people (including a ‘District Court’ judge, a 9-year-old child, and a Giffords assistant) and wounded 18 more. According to reports, Giffords was the primary target of the attack.
Giffords was transported to Tucson’s ‘University Medical Center,’ where she had emergency surgery. Her condition gradually stabilized and eventually improved. She was transferred to the ‘Memorial Hermann Medical Center’ on January 21 and subsequently to the ‘TIRR Memorial Hermann’ in Houston for rehabilitation on January 22.
She was well enough to travel to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 16, 2011, to watch the launch of her husband Mark Kelly’s final space shuttle mission, ‘Endeavour.’
She was discharged from the hospital on June 15th.
Giffords made her first public appearance after the assassination attempt on August 1, 2011, in the ‘House of Representatives,’ to vote for “raising the debt limit ceiling.” She was received with applause and a standing ovation. She struggled to speak because she couldn’t fully use her right side. She had also lost half of her eyesight in both eyes by that time.
She resigned from her ‘Congress’ seat on January 25, 2012, stating that she needed to focus on her rehabilitation. Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter, was facing more than 50 federal criminal charges. He pled guilty in a plea bargain in November 2012, avoiding the death penalty, and was sentenced to seven life terms and 140 years in jail, with no chance of release.

Personal Experiences of Gabrielle Giffords

On November 10, 2007, Giffords married Mark Kelly. On a vacation to China four years before, she had met him. He was a ‘Navy’ pilot and a ‘NASA’ astronaut in the past.
Kelly and Giffords went on to form ‘Americans for Responsible Solutions,’ a group that promotes gun violence prevention and gun ownership accountability.

RS & Publications

‘Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope,’ co-written with Jeffrey Zaslow, was released in November 2011 by Giffords and Kelly.
‘Enough: Our Fight to Keep America Safe from Gun Violence,’ their second book, was released in May 2017.
On June 12, 2017, in Texas, the ‘US Navy’ combat ship ‘USS Gabrielle Giffords’ was commissioned into duty in her honor. She is the first live woman to have a battleship named after her in the United States Navy. In 1776, Martha Washington was the only other woman. She is also the third living woman to have a navy vessel named after her in the United States.

Estimated Net Worth

Gabby Giffords has a net worth of $20 million.