Former U.S. lawmaker Giffords visits town hit by school shooting

NEWTOWN, Connecticut Sat Jan 5, 2013 7:27am IST

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (2nd L, in glasses) leaves the Newtown Municipal Building in Newtown, Connecticut January 4, 2013. REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (2nd L, in glasses) leaves the Newtown Municipal Building in Newtown, Connecticut January 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/ Michelle McLoughlin

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NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) - Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a mass shooting in her Arizona district two years ago, met with Newtown officials on Friday afternoon before heading to visit with families of the victims of last month's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Giffords arrived at Newtown's town hall a bit before 3 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) and met with First Selectman Pat Llodra and School Superintendent Janet Robinson among other officials.

After about 30 minutes, Giffords and a small entourage boarded their vehicles and drove off from the town hall.

On Thursday, Steven Jensen, spokesman for Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, said Giffords planned to attend a private event at a local home on Friday.

Giffords' visit is three weeks to the day since 20-year-old Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in rural Newtown, about 70 miles ( 113 km) n ortheast of New York City, and killed 20 first graders and six school staff members.

Before the attack, Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their home about 5 miles from the school. Lanza took his own life as police arrived at the Sandy Hook school.

Giffords retired from Congress last year to focus on her recovery from the January 2011 shooting in Tucson that left six dead and 12 others wounded.

Giffords, shot in the head in the attack, has become a symbol for proponents of stricter gun control in the national debate about the right to bear arms, which has grown louder since the December 14 attack in Newtown.

On Thursday, the more than 400 children who escaped without physical harm returned to school for the first time since the assault. (Writing by Dan Burns; editing by Claudia Parsons)

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