Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, 18 others shot in Arizona

sarahpac_targetsRemember how, several months ago, we were discussing Sarah Palin’s decision to show her perceived political adversaries in the crosshairs of a gun? Well, one of those people, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, was shot this morning. The motivation of the shooting is not yet know, but, given that the Congresswoman was the first of 19 shot, it’s very likely political in nature. The following comes from Think Progress.

…Giffords recently won re-election in a close race. She entered Congress in 2007 and sits on the House Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Science and Technology. Today, she was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson, intended to allow constituents to present their concerns directly to her.

There have yet to be any indications that the shooting was political. Giffords was, however, a controversial figure in her district for her support of health care reform, immigration reform, and other issues. At a town hall event in 2009, also at a Safeway grocery store, her staffers had to call police after an angry constituent left a gun behind…

When healthcare reform passed in March, Giffords was one of 10 Democrats who “report[ed] death threats, incidents of harassment or vandalism at their district offices.” The front door to her district office was shattered…

Giffords, it’s being reported, was shot in the head from a distance of approximately four feet. It’s yet to be confirmed, but some sources are reporting that the Congresswoman has died.

Our thoughts are with Giffords, her family, and the 18 others who were shot.

One last thought… If this gunman’s actions were in any way motivated by the increasingly heated and irresponsible rhetoric of the right, one would hope that maybe, if nothing else, this horrible event exposes Palin and her fellow demagogues for what they truly are.

update: Jared Lee Loughner has been identified as the gunman, and is in custody. He is white and in his mid 20’s. It’s believed that he may have had an accomplice. Multiple sources are reporting that he has posted videos online in the past which express a strong anti-government sentiment, focusing primarily on the fact that our legislators are “ignoring the Constitution.” [A photo said to be of Loughner can be found here.]

update: Word is that Palin has removed the above map and any mention of Giffords being a “problem” that needed to be dealt with from her website.

update: The following two comments come from Redditors living in Arizona.

CashRorschach: Arizona redditor here: the political climate here is more insane than most people outside AZ would believe. Since SB1070 passed it’s really gotten out of control, and I was worried something like this would happen since the Tea Party invaded the state. With all the passive-violent rhetoric that Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, Angle and so many others have been spewing in the last year, I’m not really surprised. This is a sad day for democracy.

iamyo: Yes, I am from Arizona and I know kids who went off to college who are never moving back. They want to make it an inhospitable place for anyone who isn’t white and they are succeeding. It’s sad. I am an Arizona native and I really feel like the place is in my blood but the nutjobs have taken over the state. There are a LOT of great people in that state. The extremists have succeeded–often with a constituency who aren’t from the state but from Orange County or the Midwest. They are trying to drive out 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican-Americans. I don’t know how the right wing took over the West. It’s so depressing!

update: From Time:

…(Giffords) mentioned in an MSNBC interview that a Sarah Palin mailer had depicted her district in the crosshair of a gun sight. “They’ve got to realize there are consequences to that,” she said. “The rhetoric is incredibly heated.” The corner next to her office had also become, she said, a popular spot for Tea Party protests…

update: My friend Mike Shecket just pointed out the following to me: Gabrielle Giffords and Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia were the only two members of Congress on Sarah Palin’s “hit list” to be re-elected last November.

update: Giffords, according to surgeons, is alive. Among the six who were murdered was John M. Roll, the chief judge for the United States District Court for Arizona, and a 9 year old girl named Christina Taylor Greene. Greene had been featured in a book entitled Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11.

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40 Comments

  1. John
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    And yet, on the other hand, news outlets are reporting that on the shooter’s website, he lists as his favorite books The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. Not exactly Sarah Palin fare. The Congresswoman also was listed as a “target” on the Daily Kos for being a blue dog democrat. Do we blame Kos?

    I like your blog, but its a little early to hang this on any political group. I think everyone is jumping to conclusions.

  2. Bob
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I wish to god Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and the rest could be prosecuted for inciting this shit. It was only a matter of time.

  3. bash
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    http://pipl.com/cache/?N=10.10.93.54&S=2011010818194014800000003027407243462&P=39572.htm found this on the web abt the shooter

  4. Taco Tom
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    One never knows…crossing the street, driving your car, attending a simple meet and greet…
    I’m from Tucson. I visit there regularly. That very Safeway on the corner of Oracle and Ina Roads is where I shop when I’m there. Gabrielle Giffords is one of the sensible, real public servants who is trying to help, a moderate Democrat, if you will. She represents a very politically charged district, bordering Mexico. Folks there have strong feelings about immigration, border patrol, and the drug trade. She opposed the recently passed SB 1070. Unfortunately, Arizona is full of myopic, self-serving demagogues who pander to fear and self interest. There has been an influx of both LA and Midwest folks who just don’t get it that Arizona was part of Mexico, that the Native and Mexican cultures belong there, and that they are the new kids on the block, and bratty ones at that. I am amazed at the intolerance which has grown in recent years. It is not the place I left 40 years ago. But I digress. This episode is just another story which I’m sad to say, will likely happen again, somewhere else.
    I wish the very best for Gabrielle and her recovery.
    I give my condolences to Judge Roll’s family and all the others killed and wounded.
    I sincerely hope the shooter and any of his cronies are captured.
    This should be a wake-up to all the inflammatory would-be politicos that their speech is hate speech, and that their words create waves stirring up all the swamp-rats. Any observer should not be surprised at this. We should all be saddened by what is occurring in our land.

  5. Knox
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    My prayers are with the wounded, the dead, and their families tonight. And I hope that Nick J. Rahall II has protection.

  6. Alicia
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Saddened, yes, and scared, and depressed. I feel so helpless and also wonder if this is what people felt like in Germany circa 1935?

  7. Posted January 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    John, I didn’t say that this guy was motivated by Rush, Palin, Fox and friends. It’s going to take a while to get to the bottom of what happened. I do, however, think that all the heated rhetoric and “Constitutional” nonsense may have played a part. When we have people 24/7 telling us that our country is being taken over by Socialists, there are bound to be repercussions.

    In the past few years, very little political violence, if any, has been committed by people on the American left. On the right, however, we’ve had armed attacks on the Holocaust Museum, a plane flown into an IRS building, the killing of police officers in New York, the plotting in Michigan to do the same on a larger scale, the guy who was stopped with a car full of weapons in California, headed to kill people at the Tides Foundation, not to mention and all the smashed windows at Democratic offices and the countless threats of violence. The pot has been boiling for a while now, and I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that today’s horrible events might have been in some way influenced. Still, though, like you say, we don’t know. He could have been mentally ill… It would seem, however, that, if that were the case, sooner or later one of these nuts would threaten/attack a right wing political figure.

  8. Eel
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Get ready for the conspiracy theories. Looking through the material he’s authored on-line, he looks like an ideal patsy. Right now, I’m not buying it. I think he was probably a nut acting alone. If he winds up dead in a few days though, ask me again.

  9. Bob
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Mark, your point about it rarely being a left-wing nut says almost everything. And yet the media still go out of their way to always mention “extremists on both ends of the spectrum.” Wolf Blitzer was on CNN tonight covering the story and theorizing, based on the guys list of favorite books, that “maybe he’s a liberal nut.” The next interview was with a guy in his early twenties who helped subdue the suspect. My wife and I both gasped as he described how he was walking in to the Walgreens to buy cigarettes and how he happened to have his concealed gun on him that he always carries. It would have been comical if it weren’t so tragic. We spend too much time trying to avoid offending or pointing fingers in this country. I doubt that much is going to come out that will change the basic profile of this guy or what kind of garbage drove him to this act. I hope some of his bullets ended the political lives of Palin and the Tea Party crazies.

  10. wolverbob
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    I think Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik summed it up the best. From an AP news report, the sheriff blamed the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it centered in Arizona.

    “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,” he said. “And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

    Also, check this out from the same AP story…

    “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”.

  11. Kim
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    waiting for the first asshole to say that this never would have happened if everyone in the crowd had been armed

  12. Taco Tom
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    It really doesn’t matter if the shooter is left-wing, right wing, or de-winged. The issue is that violent speech legitimizes this sort of behavior in the mind of unhinged, loosely-wrapped individuals. Whatever the politics of this individual are is beside the point. Our bombastic broadcasters, and pontificating politicos have given him the ammunition he needs to justify his own twisted thinking and deeds of destruction.

  13. Edward
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Tom, I agree with you up to a point. This is about the vitriolic lies of the irresponsible intended to inflame the weak minded. This isn’t about what side of the political spectrum these people are on. With that said, though, they’re all on one side of the spectrum.

  14. Posted January 9, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to say that he was a card carrying Flea Bagger, but he is every bit as confused as your typical flea bagger:

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/01/08/arizona.shootings.suspect.social/index.html?hpt=P1&iref=NS1

    He as difficult to follow as that last guy. What was his name?

  15. Posted January 9, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Honestly, the American right’s fascination with violence, use of violent imagery and rhetoric in political speech, and the constant chest beating by Repuglican leaders makes me want to leave this insane asylum for good.

    I used to think that it was just my crunchy Ann Arbor bias, and for a while bought in to rightist claims that their irresponsible and nonchalant attitude toward violence, killing, torture and control doesn’t truly exist.

    It’s really pessimistic of me, but I really think there is no place for people who hate violence in America.

    I wonder how many people out there are hailing this idiot as a hero? My guess is that they number in the millions. Another several million are having NRA fantasies of pulling out their own gun and blowing his brains out.

  16. Taco Tom
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Edward-
    Yes, this sort of speech does seem to be on only one end of the spectrum. My adjectives were meant to replace names like B***, and P****, who are simply obscene. I guess I was too subtle.
    Wolverbob-
    Good research, I read those stories, they capture some of what has happened in Arizona.
    And, how about this for a chilling quote from Gabby herself-
    “For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,” Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.”

  17. Posted January 9, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    During this campaign you had Jesse Kelly holding an event about beating Giffords with guns. You had Sharron Angle calling for “second amendment remedies” if the ballot box didn’t work, you had Michelle Bachman asking people to be “armed and dangerous” and you had Sarah Palin’s reload with gun crosshairs poster.

    Was this man deranged? Probably. But this is exactly what an armed and dangerous, M-16, fully automatic, reloaded, second amendment remedy looks like. This is precisely what these people were asking for.

    I don’t have high hopes, but maybe this will make people think before they speak.

  18. Oliva
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I hope some of his bullets ended the political lives of Palin and the Tea Party crazies.

    I agree. And I hope Beck, Limbaugh, and other violent, hateful concocters of untruths and bad will will be removed from the public airwaves. Guns and hate and violence are awful tragedy makers, but so is willful dumbing down and bastardization of truth. It’s all of a piece. May this sordid era we’ve been living through now be over.

    With prayers.

  19. Robert
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Loughner was driven to the Safeway parking lot by another guy from his home about 5 blocks away. This other guy is said to be in his 40s or 50s.

    I haven’t heard details regarding the wounds of any of the deceased but I am guessing Judge Roll’s injuries will be at least one shot to the head and another to the chest. Let’s see how clairvoyant I am.

  20. dragon
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Hey Nostradamus, don’t be so quick to rule out drowning.

  21. John
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I was curious, so I googled left wing violence. Plenty out there, as it turns out. Lists here:

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mithridate-ombud/2010/03/24/medias-myth-right-wing-violence

    and here:

    http://www.redstate.com/athensrunaway/2010/03/29/whither-left-wing-violence/

    and here:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1254566/posts

    Conservative sites, of course, but I suspect all the incidents are documented. Several are links to articles published at Huffington, USA Today, Reuters, et. al.

    I’m no fan of Bush — he screwed us teachers — or of Palin, but I wonder how people could cheer the various writers and film makers who called for Bush’s assassination, yet condemn Palin for putting crosshairs on a map (while the DNC has a similar map targeting Republicans). The answer of course, it that we disagree with Bush and Palin’s politics, so everything they say is suspect and subject to condemnation; while anything said about them from the progressive side is true and justifiable.

    A little balance, calm and reason is called for here. There are no innocents any more. I would not have said that twenty years ago. I fear I have become cynical about both sides.

  22. Robert
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    In Macomb County these would all be ruled suicides.

  23. Edward
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    John, I didn’t go through all your links yet, but among the first things I saw when scanning these comprehensive lists of liberal violence were an episode where “crowds of liberals tormented buses full of Boy Scouts” and something about Greek liberals shouting, “Give us our way, or we’ll beat you up!” Not very persuasive arguments in my opinion if you’re trying to argue that liberals are just as bad as people who shoot their Congresswomen in the head.

  24. Bob
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    how many writers and film makers called for Bush to be assassinated and who cheered them on? Other than that ‘Death Of A President’ movie that no one saw, I’m not remembering much. Evan that was supposed to have been some sort of a satire of anti-Bush feelings I believe.

  25. John
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Not trying to argue that progressives are just as bad. Just refuting the statements above:

    “In the past few years, very little political violence, if any, has been committed by people on the American left.”

    and

    “With that said, though, they’re all on one side of the spectrum.”

    A pox on both houses. Both sides need to tone it down and stop using terms like “Repuglican” (see above) and commie and calling people stupid and so on. What I want are fact based discussions on the issues, not name calling.

    And in that vein, we still don’t have the facts on this particular shooting. We don’t even know for sure if he was aiming at the Congresswoman, or the Judge or someone else.

  26. Posted January 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I just can’t help myself.

    There are a few Repuglicans I like, though. Not many, but a few.

  27. Ting
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I call “false equivalence” John.

    Regardless of what Jon Stewart and others might say, the blame isn’t evenly spread across the spectrum.

  28. Robert
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    A few weeks ago, the father of a detroit homicide detective was murdered. His home was firebombed and he did not make it out alive. The police immediately said it appeared to be a case of mistaken identity. Later they said they believed the firebombers hit three consecutive houses not knowing which of the three was the one occupied by their target.

    Do you people believe this explanation? Do you see a more likely possibility?

  29. Robert
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Also a few weeks ago, Mark Hackel, the Sheriff of Macomb County, said bank executive David Widlak was in a suicidal state of mind in the hours before he disappeared. Hackel said Widlak had erased histories off of his car’s GPS and from his laptop files, and that this was evidence that he was suicidal.

    Does everyone see this as a logical connection? Does anyone here see a more likely scenario? I’m just curious?

  30. Robert
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I’m bothered by how little attention is being paid to the fact that a top federal judge has just been assassinated. Hardly any news sources are making much of it. They are all focused on the attempted assassination instead.

    A federal judge is a much more likely target for genuine hostility on the part of more sophisticated criminal interests than a congressperson is generally. At least it can be said that they are more frequently pivotal in some interest’s immediate fortune.

    The case against Loughner has been unusually neat and tidy right from the get go. Having incriminating letters sitting around and blog posts providing such detailed and apparently conclusive implications regarding his guilt is a nice gift to investigators. I’m not saying that means anything conclusively, but it’s the sort of thing which should make any good investigator think twice. It’s just too easy for an organization to stage something like this to dismiss the possibility out of hand.

    So far the cab driver’s identity hasn’t been made public. When it is I would expect the guy to be hounded by the press for interviews. I’ll be very interested in that guy’s recounting.

    I’ll also be interested in seeing where exactly the judge is said to have been standing in relation to everyone else at the moment the shooting began. The specifics of his injuries may be worth note as well.

    I don’t like people talking as if this is all cut-and-dry right off the bat. It just shows ignorance. Even for investigators, who have access to so much of the intricate detail of the incident, nothing should be assumed.

  31. K2
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    From Alternet:

    The weapon reportedly used in the mass murders in Tucson was an assault weapon — a Glock 19, semi-automatic pistol, with an extended magazine. That weapon was illegal to sell in the US from 1994 to 2004 under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. It is now legal to sell and own. The National Rifle Association reports there are tens of millions of assault weapons is private hands in the US.

    The federal background check for people purchasing such weapons only prohibits selling such weapons to people who have been legally determined to be mentally defective or found insane or convicted of crimes. This man had not been found legally mentally defective or convicted so he was legally entitled to purchase an assault weapon. In Arizona he was legally entitled to carry the weapon in a concealed manner.

    The US has well over 250 million guns in private hands according to the National Rifle Association. That is more, according to the BBC, than any country in the world. In one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States according to the Brady Campaign.

  32. Kim
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but the guy does talk an awful lot on his youtube page about mind control.

  33. Alice
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Did you see his mug shot? Look at it and ask yourself, who in their right mind would sell this guy an automatic weapon.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1345895/Tucson-gunman-Jared-Loughner-appears-court.html

  34. Robert
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    If anyone sees a crime scene diagram at any point please share a link here. I’d like to see a more detailed diagram than I’ve seen so far. I’m interested in knowing what Judge Roll’s exact position was and the nature of his wound(s).

  35. Robert
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    The taxi cab driver who transported Loughner to the Safeway is named John Marino. There doesn’t appear to be anything suspicious about him or his behavior regarding his interactions with Loughner. They apparently went inside the store together to get change for his cab fee. He described Loughner as calm and didn’t notice anything unusual about him.

  36. Posted January 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    We can be sure that there were no commercial planes there.

  37. Robert
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    II have to disagree with Mark and others who are suggesting that Loughner was provoked by the provocative language and expressions of right-wing groups and individuals. He appears to be so disjointed and shallow in his motivation that I would ascribe more connection in it to gun violence in movies and video games than I would to any right-wing political messaging.
    I think the disturbing nature of an incident like this can trigger people’s sensitivities and cause them to jump to making accusations founded more in their ongoing disagreements with others than in the details of the specific incident at hand.

  38. Posted January 11, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Robert,

    Instead of responding to you in my own words, I’ve decided to just cut and paste something that I someone else had written in response to Jon Stewart.

    No one is drawing a straight line between rightwing rhetoric and the shooter. Unfortunately Stewart, like many others, is arguing against that easy strawman.

    What is being argued is that a constant drumbeat of, “tyranny”, “most corrupt ever”, “I fear for our country”, “take our country back”, “second amendment remedies”, “marxists”, “socialism”, “islamofascists”, “lost the consent of the governed”, “death panels”, “pull the plug on grandma”, “he’s destroying our country”, “succession!”, “nullification!”, etc, day in and day out, every third sentence, often from the floor of congress, has an effect.

    It creates a constant atmosphere of crisis and danger, where those out of power feel under siege and at risk. Is it so hard to imagine that it might have an even worse effect on someone who feels completely marginalized, insecure and powerless; someone without the normal filters to know the conspiratorial nonsense that permeates today’s political debates as extremely exaggerated rhetoric; someone who has a history of buying into any conspiracy theory that comes their way? When the secret service says threats are up 300%, a lot of the people they deal with aren’t rational political actors but instead are often the mentally ill. Something is setting folks off these days.

    Sure it’s often impossible to really know everything that motivates an unbalanced individual, but if you acknowledge the possibility that the climate of constant crisis and danger may put unbalanced people more on edge, and make them more likely to act out, then what exactly is the harm in using a tragedy like this one as a moment for reflection on whether extreme, elimationist rhetoric should be pushed back to the fringes of our public political debate.

    So, there.

  39. John Galt
    Posted January 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Finally someone has the courage to speak the truth, and say that Giffords is ultimately to blame for the shooting.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/12/tucson-tea-party-blames-gifford/

  40. Kellee Arden
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Gabby returned to Congress yesterday. That’s one good thing in an otherwise shitty world.

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