Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords unveils gun violence memorial in San Francisco

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords unveiled a gun violence memorial Tuesday in San Francisco, saying the sheer number of victims is proof that more needs to be done to crack down on gun violence.

"Our lives can change so quickly. Mine did when I as shot. But I never gave up hope,' Giffords said.

Behind her were nearly 3,500 vases of white flowers, honoring the Californians who were shot and killed in 2020.

Giffords was severely injured in a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011.

"I'm re-learning so many things - how to walk, how to talk, and I'm fighting to make the country safer," Giffords said.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed agreed, saying, "It's important to shine a light on this and never give up."

She said the flowers are a grim testament to the lives lost.

"We are going to get there because we are not going anywhere, we are not going to give up, and we're going to continue to fight to end gun violence in this country," Breed said.

Former Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney lost her son Victor in a shooting in Los Angeles during an attempted robbery in 2019.

"There's not a day in these past three years that I don't weep. There's not a day that I don't cry out," she said. "It would be one thing if we were just up against a disease we can't identify. That's a fight… But this is something we can cure."

Giffords executive director Robyn Thomas said, "This is a problem that has solutions. We don't have to be looking at almost 3500 flowers in the field behind us."

Giffords has unveiled similar memorials, with vases in Washington,  D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Houston. 

"Change doesn't happen overnight. We can't do it alone. Join me. Move ahead together," Giffords said.