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.
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.
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.
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.