A Shot at Democracy

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and several people with her wounded at an event where she was planning to speak to her constituents.

We don’t know yet the motive for the attack, apparently by a young man who was able to get a semi-automatic weapon. No count on those injured.

We do know that the level of viciousness and personal spite has been a stain on politics. Congresswoman Giffords would not be the first or only American to be shot for her opinions or her principles.

Rep. Giffords official site is here.

Think of all our representatives who face the public every day. All of us who lived through the decade of assassinations remember the fear and the harm. Let us not see this again.

Let all Americans unite in condemning this violence.

Gawker.com is posting an eyewitness account…

The event was very informal: Gifford had set up a table outside the Safeway and about 20-30 people were gathered to talk to her. The gunman, who may have come from inside the Safeway, walked up and shot Gifford in the head first, “point blank”. According to Rayle, who is a former ER doctor, Gifford was able to move her hands after being shot.

After shooting Gifford, the gunman opened fire indiscriminately for a few seconds, firing 20-30 rounds and hitting a number of people, including a kid no older than 10 years old. Rayle hid behind a concrete pole and pretended to be dead. When the gunman apparently ran out of ammunition he attempted to flee, but a member of Gifford’s staff tackled him. Rayle helped hold the gunman down while waiting for the sheriff to arrive, about 15-to-20 minutes later. The EMS came about 30 minutes later. Rayle said he was “stunned” by how long it took medical help to arrive.

From NPR…

Giffords was first elected to represent Arizona’s 8th District in 2006. The “Congress on Your Corner” events, which she holds regularly, allow constituents to present their concerns directly to her.

Giffords is married to astronaut Mark Kelly, a veteran of Desert Storm. They have two children.

MSNBC is reporting that the judge who was shot and killed was the target of extreme language from the far right for his ruling on an immigration issue. John McCarthy Roll, federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, had faced death threats for his ruling in a 2009 civil rights case, for a time traveling with a security detail.

We don’t know yet what motivated the shooter, or whether he acted alone. We do know that violent rhetoric in times of great stress can lead to violent action. Having lived through times when several leaders and public people had their right to free speech stopped with a bullet, I can say that I never want our country to go through such a time again.

MSNBC is saying that the ‘bullet went through’ Gabrielle Giffords brain. There is no good brain injury. She has been greatly harmed and diminished– not in her value as a human being, but in her natural powers which have been stolen from her by a man who vandalized her brain with a gun. It is a shame and a disgrace to put a bullet into a human being. Only in last resort and immediate self-defense is it even thinkable. If Rep. Giffords makes a good recovery, which I devoutly hope, don’t think it means that guns don’t destroy lives.

If the gunman was truly deranged, he has still undone the will of the people by violence. This must stop now.

MOTIVE: From the HuffPo, reporting from Arizona…

[Pima County] Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, speaking about Arizona:

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

“It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. And that’s the sad thing of what’s going on in America. Pretty soon, we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S STATEMENT: Measured and reserved. The President spoke a few hours before the infosphere erupted with indictments of the violent political rhetoric of the past few years, including tape of Gabrielle Giffords herself describing the level of threat they were under. I hope for more from the President when the facts are established.

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26 responses

  1. Watching a press conference, and a trauma director stated that the child (9 years old?) has died.

    Heartbreaking.

  2. Yes, and many wounded. bullets do terrible things, no telling yet what lies ahead for the people who were shot. I hope Gabrielle Giffords will recover from this traumatic brain injury.

  3. Wow, 30 minutes waiting for emergency….that’s terrible. I hope she can survive and recover.

  4. It appears she probably will recover since they said she was responsive,but to what extent will be the question.
    A 9 year old being killed is the worst part of this.
    A Federal judge was also shot-apparently he was the target of threats in the not too distant past-could he have been th target?
    Rep.Giffords didn’t seem controversial-a somewhat conservative Democrat who was strong on border security and gun rights and proposed a Congressional pay cut.She also voted against Pelosi as Majority Leader.Not what you’d think of as a polarizing figure.She is also the only member of Congress married to an active duty military person.I’d probably vote for her given the chance.
    This shooter could also be crazy.No motive needed.

  5. no saying yet.
    It is a loss that this will probably put a chill on our representatives coming out to speak to the public.

    1. Why should it?They take a bigger chance every time they get on the road in their vehicle-seriously.
      It seems she was conscious and communicating after she was shot-head wounds can be bizarre-devastating or in some cases not.
      BTW mentally deranged people have had too much access to firearms.The NRA has strongly supported gun dealers being able to determine if a person has been committed.The ACLU has tried so hard to protect the rights of the mentally ill,that not until after the Virginia Tech massacre,did things change.Identifying a person as dangerously mentally ill is not a value judgement-it’s a necessary responsibliity.

  6. Brian Hull at RIF already decided it was a right wing zealot-I’d expect that from Pat Crowley or”klaus”,but I guess Brian is just showing who he is.Too bad. He’s blaming Sarah Palin.
    The latest reports are making this guy out as possibly a schizophrenic.
    Actually Nancy,your idea about when firearms should be used are pretty much standard policy in most law enforcement agencies except corrections.
    Self defense or defense of a third party is about it in most circumstances.
    The military has a different policy at certain facilities,particularly where nukes are stored.
    This guy has writings on the web that sound a little word salady.

  7. This was clearly a premeditated assassination. On the shooter’s Facebook page, he left messages for his friends not to be angry with him. On YouTube, he has several videos, one of which is supposed to be his final thoughts and which includes passages that I read as his intended defense.

    I’m just waiting to hear that he is a big fan of Limbaugh and Beck.

  8. Would the NRA consider keeping guns out of the hands of madmen, and taking responsibility for the bullets they shoot?
    I don’t think we can ban guns anymore than we can prohibit alcohol. There is not enough public support.
    But I think the public would support accountability.

    1. Why don’t you do some research before asking that question?Or maybe….read my comment above.
      The NRA has consistently supported legislation that would include mental health committments on background checks.It’s you liberals who want to protect everyone’s privacy to a ridiculous extent.
      Not everyone who sees a psychciatrist is unfit to own a firearm.I.E.why would someone with an eating disorder be dangerous?People who are delusional,receiving command hallucinations,severely depressed for no reason,or schizophrenic obviously shouldn’t own guns.So don’t rant at the NRA for something they already support.
      The NRA is no more responsible for someone abusing a firearm than Ford is for someone driving drunk.

  9. Manifest Insanity EPITOMIZED.

  10. Anyone remember the Fort Hood shooting?On this site I’d have to wonder.Yet we’re not supposed hold radical muslim imams accountable-oh,no,that would be sooo prejudicial.
    The NRA?Sure,why not?Situational ethics again.
    Somehow I don’t think this 22 year old pothead nitwit was incensed over health care.He sounded confused at best.

  11. This is just sad. Common sense says that hate speech and loose guns are a formula for disaster. Every shooting makes us more terrorized. Is this the America we want?

    1. If this is what you want to believe,there’s no point in arguing over it.You have your head in the left wing sand of”it’s Beck,it’s Limbaugh,it’s Palin,it’s the NRA”etc and on and on.Sometimes you sound like Karina Wood from the Million Moron March.
      NEVER hold the individual accountable.
      How ridiculous.I’m the only person responsible for my actions.so are you.End of story in almost every instance.Charlie Manson and the extreme Imams are exceptions.

  12. Joe, I wonder if we can continue this discussion when you continue to throw personal insults at me and question my intelligence and intentions.
    Karina Wood goes to my church, I was on the Million Mom March. I see patients whose bodies have been ruined by guns. I wonder how many people know the damage it does. You won’t find it out from TV and the movies.
    I am who I am, if you disagree, please make your case. But stop it with the insults. Stop putting words in my mouth and arguing with yourself. I am grieved about this awful shooting. This is a human being you are talking to. It’s wearing to have to screen out the static.

    1. As if I haven’t seen the results of shootings?You’re not talking to someone who plays video games.
      After Vietnam and the rest of my service time,I worked in a hospital in Brooklyn-one of my duties was to accouunt for valuables of the deceased and put them in the morgue.
      A lot of them were young people who been shot,stabbed,beaten to death ,or OD’d.
      It was a hospital in a bad neighborhood.I was born ion that place,and grew up around there.
      I saw a guy literally blown practically in half with a shotgun when I was eleven on my way home from playing ball.
      I obviously saw a lot on my job,so I don’t need education on the results,and by the way you outed my name,but you knew it was me anyway and anyone else who’s been here did too.
      Karina Wood got on a radio show years ago and started in on banning firearms and changing the 2nd amendment.I obviously picked up her accent and asked the host to query her on whether she was a citizen.
      she said she was a permanent resident,so I thought it was out of line for her to tell us what our laws should be if she wasn’t even a US citizen.Permanent residents are legally here,but if they don’t like our laws,too bad-they can leave and go home.If they naturalize,then they have the same legitimacy you or I do in criticizing our laws.
      I could out “klaus”,but I guess I won’t.
      FWIW one of the more disgusting jobs I had in Vietnam was helping to unload corpses from C130’s that brought them in from the field and clean up the aircraft floor afterward.
      The Koraens boxed them up out in the field;the US used body bags;the South Vietnamese a lot of times just dumped them on pallets.It was hot and the bodies weren’t always just deceased if you get my drift.To this day I can’t tolerate decomposition smell.
      I guess I am not a sunny personality,but I try to treat people the right way.

  13. I don’t know if you caught it,but Craig Close,who used to contribute here,died recently.

  14. I’m sorry about Craig.
    Why were you using a pseudonym?

  15. I actually can’t say.I guess it was some disgust with being crapped on by people who are too cowardly to identify themselves.
    I don’t care what people say if they can own up to who they are.
    I actually use a screen name on projo because everyone does and there’s not much interpersonal sparring(or at least I don’t engage in it there).
    I had no illusions that you didn’t know who I was,because there are too many specific markers relating to my experience to mislead anyone who has gone back and forth with me before.

  16. Just for the sake of argument, one of the folks that knew him considered him a left wing liberal.

    But I don’t think that would fit neatly into what nancy and others are trying to portray.

    I woke up this morning and thought to myself, why are people always looking to blame their opposition whenever something tragic happens? Something feels false about it to me. I’m more inclined to reserve judgment and look at the facts than try and speculate why this guy did what he did.

    Is political vitriol from both sides over the top? Yes. Usually the right is trying to incite people to think the world as we know it is coming to an end while the left is trying to tell us they are holier than thou and you better get on the bus, as it were. Both don’t and won’t ever appeal to this citizen.

    And it’s disappointing that our discourse on this issue can’t rise above who had worse rhetoric to produce this gunman. If we only look at this situation from that perspective we can only expect more of the same.

    I hope this Rep. recovers fully and I hope she goes back to doing her job with more zeal than ever. And finally, I hope she has another Congress on the Corner or whatever its called.

    Terror wins when we change what we do to accommodate them. Their terror puts fear into us. But, there are many rational, reasonable, and respectful people of all political persuasions who would not do what this gunman did. Those are the people Giffords represents and those are the people who are rooting for her to recover and be standing outside the Safeway again.

  17. It would be good if our representatives and leaders would take a vow of civility right now.
    I think the shooter followed a pattern of the angry man who decides to settle things with a gun and go out in a blaze of glory.
    I’m thinking about Jessica Stern’s recommendation for anti-terrorism– that part of the solution is to discredit and marginalize terrorists in their own society. Violent people are a menace to the ones closest to them.
    We have to give up our romance with the gun. Five minutes channel surfing shows that we do have a myth of the gun-toting hero. Again and again troubled people, almost always men, decide to play that role.
    Anyone who shoots another person for any reason other than immediate self-defense is a criminal.

    1. Anyone who stabs,bludgeons,beats or otherwise assault someone without justification is a criminal.That’s not a point of contention.
      Here’s a revolutionary idea-why couldn’t Sherrif Dupnik,who was so devastated by two people he was close to being shot,station a deputy or two at the event for routine security and crowd conteol?Or the chief of the Albuquerque PD?
      They have a cruiser detailed to repairing potholes oftentimes.
      It doesn’t have to be an overbearing police presence,just enough to deal with crowds or any potential weirdos.
      I bet if Angelina Jolie had appeared at the Safeway,half the cops in the county would’ve been there.
      A police presence might have prevented this,or at least minimized it.
      It always strikes me as particularly tragic that when these maniacs cut loose in a mass shooting too often there are no citizens around who are armed to respond.Police are stretched thin.My niece repelled a home invader/rapist with a handgun.I’d like to see someone tell her she should have just given in to the rapist.They caught him the next day,but he’d already raped a number of women.Is my niece going to stick up a 7-11?Not likely-she’s a librarian.
      I saw a good bumper sticker aimed at the concept of self defense:”911-20 minutes/Glock-2 seconds”.

      1. Actually nancy,my dad would’ve made you look like Rush Limbaugh politically,but he hated gun control and always owned a gun-in his case a carbine-he was WW2 veteran and a hell of a good shot-he just thought gun control empowered criminals and left ordinary citizens helpless in their own homes.It was probably the only thing we ever agreed on.

  18. Joe, if you read what I’m saying, I recognize that some people might want to own a gun for self-defense, and in some circumstances a gun can help prevent a crime. I’m glad your niece had a gun in that situation, and hope they caught the perp.
    If someone feels they need a gun, they should be accountable for how they use it. I don’t think the second amendment demands we sell weapons of mass destruction to deranged people.
    As far as the sheriff, hindsight is 20/20. We are in a new and worse place now, and the right to peaceably assemble is diminished.

  19. I really don’t think i was engaging in hindsight-most of the time the police are around at any public event sponsored by a politician jsut for routine reasons taht don’t impinge on freedoms.
    In this case the Sheriff was saying Arizona had become a mecca for extremists to paraphrase him, so as an experienced LE professional,he should have acted on his intuitions,especially since Giffords’ office had been vandalized after the vote on the health care bill.
    It’s hard to say we’re in a worse place now in view of what transpired in the 60’s and 70’s.You actually made that point earlier.
    I think anger now is more driven by the economy and uncertainty than by politics like it was in the 60’s and 70’s when jobs were plentiful and a pension and health benefits weren’t a crapshoot.

  20. The sheriff definitely spoke out of turn and injected his political feelings into a situation where they may or may not be accurate. As a law enforcement official he should have know better than to do that.

    I don’t fault him too much because he was probably p’o’d at the entire situation. Still, there’s no place for that type of rhetoric from government officials lacking factual info.

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