From truthout.org… Arizona
Shooting Sets Off Debate on Violent Political Rhetoric
by Yana Kunichoff
Jan. 8, 2011 - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) and seventeen others
were shot Saturday after a gunman opened fire at a public event in
Tucson, law-enforcement sources confirmed. Six people were killed,
including a federal judge, an aide to Giffords and a nine-year-old
The 40-year-old Arizona Democrat was shot in the head once at
point-blank range and rushed to University Medical Center (UMC). During
a press conference Sunday, Dr. Peter Ree of the University of Arizona
Medical Center said that she was out of surgery and in critical
condition, but was awake and following commands. Ree said that he was
"very optimistic about recovery."
U.S. District Judge John Roll was among those killed at the scene of
the shooting, U.S. Marshall David Gonzales confirmed to the Associated
A number of national news organizations including CNN, NPR and Reuters
reported prematurely that Giffords had died.
The shooting occurred during Giffords' "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
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.
Pima County Sheriff Clarance
Dupnik would not confirm that Loughner was the suspect in the shooting,
but said the shooter was targeting Giffords.
“He ran into the crowd and when he got to (Giffords), he started
shooting,” said Dupnik.
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, who was voted one of the "Top Ten Rebels
in the House" last year, introduced a bill for a 5 percent reduction in
congressional salaries, and said she had real hope for bipartisan
cooperation in the next Congress.
Giffords had been the target of death threats, vandalism and harassment
in recent months – Dupnik noted a political event at which an audience
member dropped a weapon. During another incident, windows in her office
were broken shortly after her vote for health care reform in March, and
authorities are currently investigating a suspicious package found
Saturday at Giffords’ Tucson office.
The shooting has been connected to the heated political rhetoric around
issues such as health care legislation and immigration recently, and
according to Dupnik the atmosphere in Arizona was particularly
“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 capita,” Dupnik said. “We have become the
Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Giffords was one of 20 Congress members placed in the crosshairs on
Sarah Palin’s "target list," meant to highlight Democrats in vulnerable
congressional districts, which stirred controversy for the use of gun