By Marc Lacey and David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, January 8, 2011
Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and 18 other people were shot just north of Tucson on Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents for a “Congress on Your Corner” event.
A 22-year-old man was in custody in connection with the shooting, law enforcement officials said. But at a Saturday evening news conference, officials said they were seeking a second suspect.
Ms. Giffords, 40, was described as being in very critical condition at the University Medical Center in Tucson, where she was operated on by a team of neurosurgeons. Dr. Peter Rhee, medical director of the hospital’s trauma and critical care unit, said that she had been shot once in the head, “through and through,” with the bullet going through her brain.
“I can tell you at this time, I am very optimistic about her recovery,” Dr. Rhee said in a news conference.“We cannot tell what kind of recovery but I’m as optimistic as it can get in this kind of situation.”
Early into the evening, there was still confusion about the number who were killed.
An official with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department said that six people had been killed, including a child about 9 years old and John M. Roll, the chief judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.
President Obama said in a news conference that at least five had died, including the child and Judge Roll. The Sheriff’s Department said that a total of 19 were wounded, with the hospital confirming that 10 had been taken there.
Mr. Obama confirmed that a suspect was in custody and said that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, was on his way to Arizona to oversee the investigation.
Richard Kastigar, a supervisor with the sheriff’s department, identified the gunman as a 22-year-old who was in custody. Various media reports identified him as Jared Lee Loughner. Investigators were seen entering the house of someone by that name about five miles from the shooting scene. Investigators said they were looking into whether the gunman acted alone and what his motives might have been in what they said evidence showed was a clear attempt to kill an elected official. ...
Ms. Giffords, who represents Arizona’s Eighth District in the southeastern corner of the state, has been an outspoken critic of Arizona’s tough immigration law, which is focused on identifying, prosecuting and deporting illegal immigrants, and she had come under criticism for her vote in favor of the Democrats’ health care law.
It is not only the prevalence of guns in the American society, at all levels, but more importantly the firmly held belief that the way to solve a problem is to take violent action against the enemy that is so appalling.
For political views not acceptable to the alleged perpetrator(s), both a member of the U.S. Congress and a member of the judiciary have been gunned down, along with an innocent child. And one has to assume, until proven differently, that this was a politically motivated assassination.
Of course, the incident will get considerable attention, but those who have helped to generate this culture, most recently the Tea Party movement, with its lexicon of violent, racist and unceasing vitriol directed at the president's person, will not be hauled into the courts to explain their hate crime language. They are immune, and have the impunity granted by a culture that sees their vitriol as "just par for the political course".
It is not 'par for the course' and ought not to be considered in that way.
Innocent women and children are killed every day by the military and the military mercenaries, also with impunity, and the world pays little notice. However, on the home turf in a supermarket, on a Saturday morning, while conducting a "Congress of the street,"....now that's a different kettle of fish, especially as it focuses on such high profile individuals.
Calling for the elimination of the second amendment, the right to bear arms, will not result in any action, certainly not by the current congress, whose House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans.
Calling for a cooling of the political rhetoric will not result in any change in the political discourse.
Calling for more personal ownership of guns, "to protect myself and my family" will only create more profit for the manufacturers and the gun sellers.
Even the death penalty for those who perpetrated this violence will not result in changing the violent culture, because that act, taken by the state, only enhances the credibility of a violent approach to situations.
This is a country that is losing its grip on the body politic, and while that phrase may seem vague, it nevertheless attempts to sound an alarm for those who live within its borders, and for those thinking of visiting.
And the proverbial approaches of more arrests and more incarcerations and more death penalties and more guns will not even nudge the country in the right direction.
Only more violence and more and more piled on will take the country to a "bottoming-out" and a potential wake-up to the realization that "what we're doing is not working and needs to change!"
By Amanda Lee Myers, Toronto Star, January 8, 2011
The shooting comes amid a highly charged political environment that has seen several dangerous threats against lawmakers but nothing that reached the point of actual violence.
A San Francisco man upset with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s support of health care reform pleaded guilty to threatening the Democratic congresswoman and her family, calling her directly on March 25 and threatening to destroy her Northern California home if she voted for health care reform.
In July, a California man known for his anger over left-leaning politics engaged in a shootout with highway patrol officers after planning an attack on the ACLU and another non-profit group. The man said he wanted to “start a revolution” by killing people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.
During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.
“I don’t see the connection,” between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday’s shooting, said John Ellinwood, Kelly’s spokesman. “I don’t know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way. I just don’t see the connection.
By Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star, January 11, 2011
While there’s been much outrage over the Tucson violence, there’s been a reluctance among mainstream commentators and politicians to pin the blame where it belongs — on the kind of hostile, right-wing extremism that implicitly promotes political violence.
Of course, there’s been plenty of talk about today’s “toxic politics” and references to the “lock and load,” gun-crosshairs imagery used by Sarah Palin and other Tea Partiers. But commentators typically insist that toxic politics exist at both extremes of the political spectrum.
This deliberate neutrality is highly misleading. There may be leftists using similarly threatening language, but such individuals are not tolerated in any mainstream political party, nor are they given endless exposure on the nation’s airwaves.
The Tea Party crowd, on the other hand, dominates U.S. cable news, gets a pass when it uses violent imagery and now appears to dominate the Republican party.
This acceptance of threatening, right-wing extremism was evident early in Barack Obama’s presidency when protestors carrying AK-47s were allowed to walk about freely at Obama rallies.
Emboldened, Tea Party candidates like Sharron Angle openly referred to “second amendment remedies” — suggesting that the constitutional right to bear arms might be the way to block Obama policies.
Giffords’ office door was smashed after she voted for Obama’s health-care plan, and her Republican opponent, Jesse Kelly, urged voters to “help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office: Shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly.”