June 7, 2022 7:39 PM EDT

Former U.S. Representative and leading gun control advocate Gabrielle Giffords says she is hopeful that the country will enact meaningful reforms in response to rising gun violence—despite the failure of past efforts to pass legislation.

Giffords spoke as the U.S. processes yet another spate of multiple mass shootings, including the May 14 shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y. where 10 were killed, and the May 24 shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas where 19 students and 2 teachers were killed.

“I’m optimistic,” Giffords said at the TIME100 Summit Tuesday in New York City. “It will be a long, hard haul, but I’m optimistic.”

Giffords, a 2013 Time 100 honoree, is herself a survivor of gun violence, as she was shot in the head in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. Since the assasination attempt, the former Arizona representative has become both a symbol and a fierce advocate for gun control.

TIME Senior Correspondent Charlotte Alter asked Giffords how she was feeling in the wake of the recent shootings. “I’m sad,” Giffords replied. “I’m sad, I’m sad, I’m sad.”

Giffords joined filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen on the stage to discuss the need for anti gun violence prevention, including Congressional action. West and Cohen co-directed the TIME Studios documentary Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year.

The film follows Giffords during her rehabilitation, return to politics and her gun control work after the attack. In addition to recovering from her physical injuries, Giffords suffered a brain injury that left her with aphasia, a language disorder that makes it harder to communicate through speech.

Bipartisan talks for stricter gun legislation are underway in both houses of Congress in response to the attacks. At the same time, the gun rights lobby is preparing to oppose any propositions.

Cohen noted that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is “quite likely” to pass a form of gun prevention legislation this week, though the Senate—which is evenly split—is the “bigger barrier” as it would need to reach 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

“With some of the horrors we’ve all seen the past couple of weeks, perhaps there’s a chance of getting to 60 [votes],” Cohen added. She turned to Giffords and said, “You’re the optimist. Do you think?” “Yes, yes,” Giffords said.

West said working with Giffords on the documentary brought the issue of gun violence home to her personally.

“To see the consequences of gun violence, to see what happened with Gabby Giffords and what Gabby has gone through…it certainly opened my eyes,” West said. “This is a scourge on our country, and something that Gabby’s working very hard to change.”

Cohen and West are the Academy Award-nominated directorial team behind a number of documentaries about pioneering icons, such as RBG (2018), Julia, (2021) and My Name is Pauli Murray (2021).

The TIME 100 Summit is the live event extension of the annual TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. It convenes leaders from the global TIME 100 community to spotlight solutions and encourage action toward a better world. This year’s summit features a variety of impactful speakers across a diverse range of sectors, including politics, business, health and science, culture, and more.

Speakers for the 2022 TIME 100 Summit include Apple CEO Tim Cook, producer Mindy Kaling, filmmaker Taika Waititi, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, musician Jon Batiste, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, NBA champion, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Dwayne Wade, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, ACLU deputy director for transgender justice Chase Strangio, Christian Siriano founder and creative director Christian Siriano, Brother Vellies founder and creative director Aurora James, Netflix head of global TV Bela Bajaria, author and poet Cathy Park Hong, Olympic freestyle skiing champion Eileen Gu, author, poet, and president of the Mellon Foundation Elizabeth Alexander, BioNTech SE senior vice president Dr. Katalin Karikó, Ukrayinska Pravda editor in chief Sevgil Musaieva, and TIME co-chair and Salesforce chair and co-CEO Marc Benioff.

The TIME 100 Summit is the live event extension of the annual TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. It convenes leaders from the global TIME 100 community to spotlight solutions and encourage action toward a better world. This year’s summit features a variety of impactful speakers across a diverse range of sectors, including politics, business, health and science, culture, and more.

Speakers for the 2022 TIME 100 Summit include Apple CEO Tim Cook, producer Mindy Kaling, filmmaker Taika Waititi, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, musician Jon Batiste, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, NBA champion, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Dwayne Wade, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, ACLU deputy director for transgender justice Chase Strangio, Christian Siriano founder and creative director Christian Siriano, Brother Vellies founder and creative director Aurora James, Netflix head of global TV Bela Bajaria, author and poet Cathy Park Hong, Olympic freestyle skiing champion Eileen Gu, author, poet, and president of the Mellon Foundation Elizabeth Alexander, BioNTech SE senior vice president Dr. Katalin Karikó, Ukrayinska Pravda editor in chief Sevgil Musaieva, and TIME co-chair and Salesforce chair and co-CEO Marc Benioff.

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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com.

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