Injured US politician is 'speaking'
Doctors of Gabrielle Giffords say she's recovering much faster than anticipated, a month after she was shot in the head.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2011 23:49 GMT
Victims of the Tuscon mass killing seek a legislation to limit gun ownership [Getty Images]

A spokesman for US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords says she is speaking "more and more", the first confirmation that she is able to talk a month after being shot in the forehead.

C.J. Karamargin says Giffords spoke for the first time within the past few days,  in what would be a significant milestone in her recovery from a traumatic brain injury.

He does not know what her very first words were, but says at breakfast one morning she asked for toast.

The spokesman added that the Congresswoman is "working very hard and it's paying off" and that everyone at the office is elated.

Six people were killed in the attack outside a supermarket in the US state of Arizona, where Giffords was holding a political event. Thirteen others were injured in one of the deadliest rampages.

Husband off to space

Earlier, Giffords's doctor said that he hopes the wounded congresswoman can make enough progress to attend her husband's space launch in two months, describing it as "a goal for us to work towards."

The US space shuttle Endeavour will leave April 19 for a two-week mission to the International Space Station, and astronaut Mark Kelly, Gifford's husband, announced last week that he'll be aboard and expects his wife, who was shot in the forehead, to see him blast off.

But Dr. Gerard Francisco said doctors would have to decide on a variety of medical issues for that to happen, including whether Giffords can fly to the Florida location from where the spacecraft is to be launched, how much assistance she would need and how much noise she can tolerate.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Kelly wrote it's hard to believe only one month has passed.

"The doctors say she is recovering at lightning speed considering her injury but they aren't kidding when they say this is a marathon process," he said.

He said he wants the families of the other victims and the entire Tucson community to know that his wife "will soon stand by your side to mourn this tragedy and learn how we can heal."

Gun control legislation

In Phoenix, Arizona's largest city, the family of a Giffords aide killed in the attack joined lawmakers to call for a new state law to ban large-capacity magazines like the one used in the rampage.

The bill faces a difficult road to passage in the Republican-led Legislature, which has a strong record of supporting gun rights. Gun rights advocates said the measure would not have prevented the tragedy.

"I think it's wrong-headed, misguided, unconstitutional, and I don't think it will have any chance of passing out of this Legislature, much less than being heard," said John Wentling, a lobbyist for gun rights group.

But there is bipartisan support for a second piece of legislation that would require educational institutions and public agencies to notify health authorities about terminations, expulsions and suspensions resulting from violence or threatening behavior.

Jared Loughner, the alleged shooter, was kicked out of a local College because of behaviour that campus police considered disturbing. He was told to get a mental health evaluation or not return.

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