TUCSON, Ariz. -- The husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords addressed the man who shot her, saying in court Thursday that he may have changed her life forever but could not damage her spirit.
Rep. Giffords stood by Mark Kelly, her arm in a sling, as the two faced Jared Lee Loughner for the first time, CBS correspondent John Blackstone reports. Loughner, 24, pleaded guilty to the January 2011 attack in Tucson that killed six and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.
"Her life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered," Kelly said. "Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she once was so good at."
Kelly described how his charismatic and outgoing wife now has difficulty talking, is blind in one eye, and is paralyzed in one arm.
"Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head but you haven't put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place," Kelly said.
The retired astronaut paid tribute to the six victims who lost their lives, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Greene, Giffords aide and 30-year-old finance Gabe Zimmerman, and Judge John Roll. "Gabby would gladly trade her own life to bring back those you savagely murdered on that day," he said.
Giffords kissed Kelly when he was done and they walked back to their seats. The Associated Press reports that Loughner's mother, also in attendance, was sobbing.
Kelly also made a plea for gun control, saying that the "political class ignores the white elephant of gun violence." He criticized Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and state legislature for ignoring the issue and refusing to pit guns themselves as a major problem.
"The challenges we face are so great, but the leadership in place is so often lacking. In so many moments, I find myself thinking, "We need Gabby," Kelly said.
Loughner is being sentenced to life in prison without parole after accepting a plea deal on 19 federal charges. The deal calls for the dismissal of 30 other charges and a sentence of seven consecutive life terms, followed by 140 years in prison.