Just over a year after being shot in the head by a crazed constituent at a Congress-on-your-corner event at a Tuscon super market, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Sunday announced via Facebook that she is resigning her office.
“I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week,” she said in a video statement posted on Facebook. The two-minute clip was overlaid with images of Giffords before and after the shooting, working with constituents and recovering. “I’m getting better every day,” she said. “My spirit is high.”
(PHOTOS: Giffords One Year After the Shooting)
Giffords spent much of this month honoring the victims of the shooting, which wounded 13 and left six dead. The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, is schizophrenic and courts are still trying to decide if he is competent to stand trial. He pleaded not guilty in March.
Giffords labored through 2011 in rehabilitation and speech still comes slowly to her, as evidenced by the handful of interviews she’s given recently to promote her best selling book, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, written with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. She has lost 50% of her vision in each eye and needs the help of a cane to walk. Still, her recovery from a close range gunshot wound to her temple has been nothing short of miraculous. She traveled to Cape Canaveral in April for the scheduled launch of one of the last space shuttle missions to support her husband: it was the last mission Kelly would command before his retirement. And she returned to Congress in August to vote on the debt ceiling deal less than eight months after the shooting, receiving a prolonged standing ovation from her colleagues.
So miraculous has her recovery been that many wondered if the Blue dog Democrat would run to take retiring Republican Arizona Senator Jon Kyl’s seat. Her close friend, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement released minutes after Gifford’s announcement that she is confident “that Gabby will find other ways to fulfill her calling to public service and continue to lead and inspire the nation.” For the immediate future, Giffords’s office says she will attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address before handing in her official letter of resignation. She also said she plans one last official event: to complete the Congress-on-your-corner gathering that was so brutally interrupted a year ago. Though she gave no indication in her statement of her future plans, her video did strike a political closing note. “I will return,” Giffords said, “and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”