(CNN) – Three years to the day that she was critically wounded in a mass shooting that left six dead, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords called for persistence in the fight for gun control, and revealed for the first time that she now has movement in her right arm.
In an opinion piece Wednesday for the New York Times, the Democrat from Arizona described the daily "gritty, painful, frustrating work" of rehab and compares it to her mission to strengthen gun laws, saying "our fight is a lot more like my rehab. Every day, we must wake up resolved and determined. We'll pay attention to the details; look for opportunities for progress, even when the pace is slow."
Giffords described the disappointment in Congress for failing to pass gun control measures in the aftermath of the December 2012 shootings at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 young children dead, writing that "Washington disappointed us during the first year of our work with the organization we began, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Many of you were outraged at the failure of the Senate to pass the background checks bill, and so was I."
But Giffords, who along with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have become leading advocates for gun control, also sounded optimistic. And she touted a recent high profile electoral victory this past November for a candidate who supported gun control, saying "we can get tough and win elections. We'll support our allies. And those who stood in the way will face a powerful advocacy community standing between them and re-election. I know that after the next elections, candidates won't wonder if common-sense gun policies can win elections; trust me, like Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, they'll know that the answer is yes."
On a personal note, Giffords revealed the slow progress she's made with her rehab.
"This past year, I have achieved something big that I've not spoken of until now. Countless hours of physical therapy – and the talents of the medical community – have brought me new movement in my right arm. It's fractional progress, and it took a long time, but my arm moves when I tell it to. Three years ago, I did not imagine my arm would move again. For so many days, it did not. I did exercise after exercise, day after day, until it did," she said.
Giffords and her husband marked the third anniversary of the shooting by skydiving.
Giffords was first elected to Congress in 2006. She stepped down from her seat one year after suffering a severe head wound in the shooting, which took place as she was meeting with constituents at a supermarket near her hometown of Tucson.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.