Giffords is seen as a rising star among Washington's Democrats [EPA] 

Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot while meeting her constituents at an event in Tuscon, Arizona, is a Democratic congresswoman serving, among other things, on the House committee on foreign affairs.

Born in Arizona in 1970, she took national office in the House of Representatives in 2007 and is seen as rising star in the Democratic party.

She earnt a place on the "hit list" of Democrats that Sarah Palin, the Republican governor of Alaska, wanted to unseat and won a third term only after a close competition with a candidate sponsored by the Tea Party movement.

Giffords has been heavily criticised for her support of US healthcare reforms and her office was one of several Democratic offices vandalised by opponents of the legislation.

She has focused on reforming immigration laws and has supported stem cell research.

She served as chairwoman of the House space and aeronautics sub-committee and holds seats on the House science and technology and armed services committees.

Her husband, Mark Kelly, is a pilot in the US navy and a NASA astronaut.

Giffords is a vocal supporter of the controversial US right to "bear arms" and campaigned against a proposed ban on handguns.

Her website notes she "is a longtime gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment".

Source: Al Jazeera