Update on Shooting

An update from Truthout.org about the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson.

Published on Truthout (http://www.truth-out.org)

Arizona Congresswoman, 17 Others Shot in Tucson

Yana Kunichoff | Friday 08 January 2010

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) and six others were shot Saturday after a gunman opened fire at a public event in Tucson, law-enforcement sources confirmed.

The 40-year-old Arizona Democrat was taking part in a “Congress on Your Corner” event in northwest Tucson, when a gunman ran up to the group and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

Gifford was shot in the head once at point-blank range and rushed to University Medical Center (UMC). Gifford has had surgery and is now in critical condition, with a representative from UMC saying doctors were optimistic about her recovery.

A number of national news organizations including CNN, NPR and Reuters reported prematurely that Giffords had died.

At least 17 other people, including member of Giffords’ staff, were injured in the attack. Five people have been confirmed as dead, according to local southern Arizona TV station KOLD News 13, including a nine-year-old boy. A federal law enforcement official has confirmed that Federal Judge John Roll was among those shot.

The shooter, identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, was tackled by a bystander and taken into custody. The FBI has said he was the only shooter; Loughner purchased his semi-automatic pistol legally in Tucson, the Washington Post reported.

Giffords, Arizona’s first Jewish congresswoman, was first elected as a representative of Arizona’s 8th District in 2006 and was reelected to her third term in November.

During her time in Congress, Giffords focused on immigration reform, military issues, stem cell research and alternative energy. Just days before she was shot, Giffords introduced a bill for a 5 percent reduction in congressional salaries, and said she had real hope for bipartisan cooperation in the next Congress.

“I fly coach,” said Giffords, who was voted one of the “Top Ten Rebels in the House” last year.

Gifford has received death threats, vandalism and harassment – her office was one of numerous Democratic offices in three states vandalized shortly after the vote for health care reform in March.

She was one of 20 Congress members placed in the crosshairs on Sarah Palin’s “target list,” meant to highlight Democrats in vulnerable congressional districts, that stirred controversy for the use of gun sights.

Speaking to MSNBC about Palin’s list in March, Giffords said, “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.”

In a statement on Facebook, Palin said “my sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.” Palin did not make any comment on Giffords place on her target list.

Gifford’s Republican opponent in the November race, Jesse Kelly (R-Arizona), was also criticized for a campaign event at a shooting range, advertised with the words “Get on Target for Victory in November,” “Help remove Gabriel Giffords from office” and “Shoot a fully automatic M16.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), who has also been the target of vandalism and harassment, told KOLD News 13, “The lesson we can take from the terrible thing that just happened” is that “we can differ, but that difference does not need to go to an extreme where it becomes danger.”

“Civil discourse and civil debate should be exactly that,” said Grijalva.

In a statement, President Barack Obama called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy,” and said that while we do not know the motive of the shooting, “what we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.”


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