Saturday, January 8, 2011

Political World Stunned By AZ Congresswoman's Shooting

TUCSON, Ariz. – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday by a gunman who opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with voters, killing a federal judge and five others, including one 9 year old child who was born on 9/11/2001. Giffords was reportedly shot in the head after a man approached the event and began firing, also hitting 18 other people, including three of Giffords staffers. Rep. Giffords is one of 20 Democratic lawmakers targeted with gun cross hairs on Sarah Palin's political action committee map of the US.

In Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s press conference tonight, he said that law enforcement are “actively in pursuit” of a second suspect in the shooting.

President Obama called the shooting an "unspeakable tragedy." "We do not yet have all the answers," he said in a statement. "What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society."

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Giffords was the target of a gunman whom he described as mentally unstable and possibly acting along with an accomplice. He said Giffords was among 13 people wounded in the melee that killed six people, including Arizona's chief federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and an aide for the Democratic lawmaker. He said the rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman.

Doctors were optimistic about Giffords surviving as she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head. "With guarded optimism, I hope she will survive, but this is a very devastating wound," said Dr. Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general who lives in Tucson.

The sheriff pointed to the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country as he denounced the shooting that claimed several of his friends as victims, including U.S. District Judge John Roll. The judge celebrated Mass on Saturday morning like he does every day before stopping by to say hello to his good friend Giffords.

"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," the sheriff said. "And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

After Giffords voted in favor of the health-care overhaul in March, she said that vandals had broken the glass door of her Tucson office. "The rhetoric is incredibly heated, not just the calls but the emails, the slurs," she told MSNBC at the time. "Things have really gotten spun up." She added: "We do have these polarized parts of our parties that really get excited, and that's where ... all of us have to come together and say, 'OK, there's a fine line here.' "

That same month, Sarah Palin's political action committee posted a map of the US, showing the locations of the 20 Democratic members of Congress, including Giffords, it was targeting for defeat. Each location was marked by an image of a gun cross hairs.
Palin's camp dismissed charges that she was encouraging acts of violence, saying she had spoken out against violence. But Giffords herself was one of many who spoke out against the image, telling MSNBC: "When people do that, they've gotta realize there's consequences to that action."

Palin, who has never publicly advocated violence against fellow US politicians, has often employed "lock and load" rhetorical attacks that leverage imagery and terminology familiar to gun owners and evocative of firearms. She said last March that her supporters should "reload" and "aim for" Democrats, ostensibly with their votes.

Jesse Kelly, Giffords' Republican opponent in the 2010 mid-term elections, similarly employed guns in a campaign event. He staged an event in July asking supporters to "get on target" and "remove Gabrielle Giffords from office" -- all while shooting "a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."
Huffingtonpost: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who represents a district adjacent to Gabrielle Giffords's, said that Saturday's shooting is a consequence of the vitriolic rhetoric that has arisen over the past few years among extreme elements of the Tea Party. "The climate has gotten so toxic in our political discourse, setting up for this kind of reaction for too long. It's unfortunate to say that. I hate to say that," Grijalva said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "If you're an opponent, you're a deadly enemy," Grijalva said of the mindset among Arizona extremists. "Anybody who contributed to feeding this monster had better step back and realize they're threatening our form of government."

Keith Olbermann Issues Special Comment On Arizona Shooting:
'Violence Has No Place In Democracy'

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