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Advocates on all sides of the national debate about gun violence were heard Wednesday when a Senate held an emotion-filled hearing on the issue.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was seriously wounded in a gun assault in 2011, testified despite having difficulty speaking because of her injuries.  "Violence is a big problem," she said, "Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time to act is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you."  Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, urged Congress to enact better mental health screenings and other gun control measures--emphasizing that they are both gun owners themselves.

The hearing is Congress' first major step toward revisiting gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting and other recent gun violence tragedies.

Image: The U.S. Capitol, via Shutterstock