As you’ve likely heard by now, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot today at a constituent meeting in Arizona. The suspect, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner of Tucson, is in custody. Giffords is out of surgery but remains in critical condition. Loughner’s shooting spree killed six others, including a 9-year-old girl, leaving as many as 12 more people wounded.
President Obama reacted to the shooting by saying he wasn’t surprised Giffords “was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors.” He continued, “That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.”
Vice President Biden described Giffords as “a principled leader and a consensus-builder” and a woman who “loves her husband and family above all else.” He also praised Arizona Judge John Roll, who lost his life in the shooting, as “a dedicated jurist whose death is a terrible loss to Arizona and to the country.” Biden concluded, “There is simply no justification, no rationale for such senseless and appalling violence in our society.”
Senate majority leader Harry Reid added, “I hope for a speedy recovery for the congresswoman and all of the wounded, and that those responsible will be brought to justice quickly. This is a sad day for our country, and acts of senseless violence such as this one affect us all.”
Arizona residents have gathered to hold vigil outside of the hospital where Giffords is being treated, echoing similar sentiments of shock and disgust. 67-year-old Dorsett Edmunds told reports this afternoon, “I am in shock, I am in deep sadness, I ask myself why? Why do we keep killing our good people? I remember (John F.) Kennedy, I remember Martin Luther King. And I feel anger, but I also feel the basis of this is fear and racism.”
As Strollerderby blogger Katie Allison Granju noted earlier, Congresswoman Giffords was part of Sarah Palin’s “hit list” for having voted in favor of health care reform. As a representative of a border state, Giffords was to be a key player in the immigration debate, advocating a “long-term path to citizenship for illegal immigrants,” Reuters reports.
Representative Giffords spoke about the heated climate surrounding her office, but stated she remained unafraid despite the violent overtones of protesters. In March, she told MSNBC:
“Are you afraid? Are you fearful today?”
“You know, I’m not. We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of protesters over the course of the last several months. Our office corner has become a place where the Tea Party has congregated. And the rhetoric has become incredibly heated. Not just the calls, but the emails, the slurs. So things have really gotten spun up. But you gotta think about it. Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world because we effect change at the ballot box, and not because of these outbursts — of violence in certain cases, and the yelling, and it’s just … you know, change is important, it’s a part of our process, but it’s really important that we focus on the fact that we have a democratic process.”
Source: Huffington Post