01/30/2013 07:53 am ET Updated Jan 30, 2013

Gabby Giffords To Give Opening Remarks At Senate Hearing On Gun Violence

WASHINGTON -- Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head in the Jan. 2011 shootings in Tucson, Ariz., will give opening remarks in Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, a source confirmed to The Huffington Post.

Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, was already scheduled to testify in the hearing, but the news of Giffords' testimony was previously unannounced.

Wednesday's hearing is the first congressional hearing focused on gun violence since the December shootings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. It is also sure to be dramatic: Seated alongside Giffords and Kelly will be Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

Giffords and Kelly are among those leading the charge to reform gun laws. The couple launched a gun safety group last month called Americans for Responsible Solutions and visited with the families of the Newtown shooting victims.

UPDATE: 10:20 a.m. -- Giffords gave brief remarks as the hearing began. Escorted to the panel at the front of the room by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Giffords sat with Kelly as she read aloud her statement with slow, deliberate speech:

Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.

As soon as she finished, Kelly and others escorted Giffords out of the room.