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Giffords faces Loughner as husband lauds her "spirit"

Updated 2:30 p.m. ET

TUCSON, Ariz. The husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords addressed the man who shot her, saying in court Thursday that he may have changed her life forever but he couldn't damage her spirit.

Giffords stood by Mark Kelly, her arm in a sling, as the two faced Jared Lee Loughner for the first time, CBS correspondent John Blackstone reports. Loughner, 24, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the January 2011 attack in Tucson that killed six and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.

"Her life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered," Kelly said. "Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she once was so good at."

Kelly described how his charismatic and outgoing wife now has difficulty talking, is blind in one eye, and is paralyzed in one arm.

"Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head but you haven't put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place," Kelly said.

The retired astronaut paid tribute to the six victims who lost their lives, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, 30-year-old Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, and Chief Federal District Court Judge John Roll. "Gabby would gladly trade her own life to bring back those you savagely murdered on that day," he said.

"You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did. But after today, after this moment, here and now, Gabby and I are done thinking about you," Kelly said. Giffords then kissed her husband and they walked back to their seats.

The Associated Press reports that Loughner showed no emotion as his mother sobbed nearby.

Kelly also made a plea for gun control, accusing the "political class" for ignoring "the white elephant of gun violence." He criticized Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the state legislature for refusing to recognizing guns and gun laws as a major problem when addressing crime.

"The challenges we face are so great, but the leadership in place is so often lacking. In so many moments, I find myself thinking, 'We need Gabby,'" Kelly said.

Loughner was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years after accepting a plea deal on 19 federal charges. The deal called for the dismissal of 30 other charges. The judge said he will never set foot out of prison, Blackstone reports.

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