Yesterday’s shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 20 other victims (to date) at a meet-and-greet your Representative gathering outside a Safeway in Tucson, AZ left me speechless.
The Congresswoman is currently in a medically induced coma after being shot in the head at point blank range. The chief neurosurgeon at the University of Arizona Medical Center is being cautiously optimist. Sadly six people lost their lives including federal court judge John M. Roll who was put under 24 hour U.S. marshal protection after receiving death threats about a decision in an immigration case in 2009, Gabe Zimmerman, a member of Congresswoman Giffords’ staff, nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, retirees Dorothy Morris and Phyllis Scheck, and Dorwin Stoddard.
22-year-old Jared Loughner has been charged by federal prosecutors for attempted assassination, 6 counts of murder, and attempted murder charges in the shooting. He’s been described as a “loner” who lived with his parents. While biography trickles in from various media sources in search of a motive, the debate over whether or not Loughner’s motives were political, psycho-babble or a combination of both, will be in the interests of his legal defense and the continuing political hyperbole. If convicted, Loughner will in all likelihood face the death penalty. After all, it’s Arizona.
In the meantime the families and friends of the victims must come to terms with the shocking reality of their tragic losses while family, friends, staff, colleagues, and constituents of Congresswoman Gifford hold vigil as the Congresswoman fights for her life.
In times like these, the people who have to report the story go in desperate search for a lead narrative. So far that narrative in this story appears to be the call for civility in the political discourse. And perhaps, the state of Arizona itself is part of the reason why the civility narrative is standing out. Key issues that were part of the discourse are inching their way into a larger picture as to why this happened. Is this a reflection of the country over the past two years?
A few responses stand out:
Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner eloquently responded…
“I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society.”
Today, the House Speaker Boehner added:
“To the members of the House and their staffs, I ask that you on this Sabbath day that we keep Gabby and her staff in our thoughts and prayers. Public service is a high honor, but these tragic events remind us that all of us in our roles in service to our fellow citizens comes with a risk. This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling to represent our constituents and to fulfill our oaths of office. No act, no matter how heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duty.”
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik represents the people who have the responsibility of maintaining law and order, justifiably expressed his frustration:
I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what (we) see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in. And I think it’s time that we do the soul-searching… The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
Artist, activist and restaurateur Anas “Andy” Shallal made this observation via Facebook:
You’ll see/hear/read more about the “troubled” Loughner. Will religion, ethnicity, or gender be part of his psychological or sociological profile?
Don’t Retreat, Reload!
In the heat of the 2010 election, team Sarah Palin issued a map of state political races and the opponents or “targets” of her pac. The identifying icon was a bulls eye.
David Wiegel of Slate writes:
Palin doubled down, and she had a lot of support from conservatives for doing so, because a lot of them considered the “target map” criticism a bad faith attack on her. Were some of the attacks in bad faith? Maybe. But Gabrielle Giffords had specifically raised her concerns about the target map. Palin had many, many months to stop using the “reload” line, or to identify the targets as “surveyor’s symbols,” and she didn’t do that.
Were surveyors or cartographers the “target” audience for SarahPac? Since Saturday’s shooting, Sarah Palin has offered an on-line call for prayers in support of Congresswoman Giffords and her family. While her team spins and scrubs the map, what remains is this will be a defining moment for the former Alaska governor and communications major. It’s been a challenge for Palin to come out fresh when her opponent, interviewer, critic or in this case, political target is another woman. It’s a situation and dynamic she can’t flirt, flatter, or wink her way out of. In this case, Palin can’t quite use the music/movie influence pass due to the fact that Congresswoman Giffords’ name is on this target chart, and Congresswoman Giffords herself responded to it. Shouldn’t, the 7-year student of communications know better?
GUNS, GUNS & MORE GUNS
The Washington Post has just posted an article about Arizona having the most lenient gun laws in the U.S. Congresswoman Giffords is a long-time gun owner and has supported the Supreme Court ruling to overturn the gun ban in Washington, DC. Lougner had no criminal record. He purchased his gun legally. Yet…
“Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a National Rifle Association-backed bill repealing a state law requiring gun owners to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. State law now permits anyone 21 years or older and legally qualified to own a firearm to carry the weapon without a concealed-to-carry permit.”
Remember that guy Christopher Broughton or Chris B. who showed up with an assault rifle at an Obama rally in Phoenix, AZ in 2009 at the height of the health care town hall meetings?
And, check this out….
“A Washington Post analysis of data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that Arizona is a net exporter of guns that are seized in crimes. In 2009, 1,637 guns first purchased in Arizona were recovered at out-of-state crime scenes, according to an analysis of guns traced by the ATF. That means for every 100,000 state inhabitants, 25 guns were exported from Arizona.”
At this point I, and I hope many others will refrain from using the phrase “nuclear option.”
And from E-Notes:
There is now an urgency to love more than ever before.
President Obama will initiate a moment of silence for Congresswoman Giffords and the victims of the shooting, Monday, January 9 at 11 AM EST.
Prayers and other expressions of support, sympathy and love to the families, friends, and people of the shooting victims in Tucson, AZ.