Rep. Gabrielle Giffords thanking supporters after her first primary win, 2006
Earlier today, a gunman shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head in Tucson. She remains in critical condition, and at least five others are dead. The suspected gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, is in custody.
Giffords, a Democrat, was a supporter of causes ranging from gun rights to healthcare reform. Her backing of the latter saw her face death threats and vandalism.
She did not hide. When shot, she was holding a "Congress on Your Corner" event to aid her constituents with nuts-and-bolts questions. In last year's election, she fended off a Tea Party-backed challenge, including Sarah Palin targeting her district specifically in militant terms that are now the target of a backlash.
Despite rampant speculation, there is simply very little evidence right now concerning Loughner's motivations. Some information indicates he may simply be stark-raving mad, without affiliation to any recognizable cause. That does not make the events any less tragic.
I appreciate people trying to draw much-needed attention to the real-world consequences of violent rhetoric, but pre-fact conclusions leapt to in the wake of violent tragedy are often dead-wrong.
Instead, hope for recovery and justice. As more information comes out, judge and act accordingly.
Giffords refused to bow to fear. So press for every member of Congress to follow her example: call for them to hold a Congress on Your Corner event as soon as possible. Show that constituents and representatives alike refuse to let violent lunatics run our lives.
Everyone has the right to see their elected representative in peace. Bullets can't kill that. Fear can.
"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were, for the moment, unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate their responsibility."
-Edward R. Murrow