On January 8, a gunman, identified as 22-year-old Jared Loughner, opened fire on progressive U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat and Arizona’s first Jewish congresswoman, and others during a “Congress on Your Corner” event, outside a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, shooting Giffords in the head, killing U.S. District Judge John Roll, a nine-year-old girl, and four additional individuals, and wounding 10 others. At this writing, doctors are reportedly “cautiously optimistic” about Giffords’ condition. Queerty.com, a gay site, and other web sites have reported that Daniel Hernandez, 20, Giffords’ openly gay intern, who had served on the Tucson Commission on GLBT issues and had accompanied her to the event, quickly applied triage, checking her pulse and “covering and applying pressure to the wounds,” and was credited, by Arizona State Representative Matt Heinz, who is a physician at University Medical Center, where Giffords was taken, with probably saving her life.
Giffords, who is against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the restriction of marriage solely to couples consisting of a man and a woman, and who signed ENDA, H.R. 3017 and S. 1584, prohibiting “employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” has also focused on immigration reform, stem cell research and alternative energy. She has received death threats, and had her office windows broken following her vote for health care reform last spring.
Giffords’ name has notably appeared in the crosshairs of a gun on a list of “20 House Democrats from Districts we carried in 2008 [who] voted for the health care bill” on the site www.sarahpac.com, Sarah Palin’s web site, about which Giffords, presciently, had said, “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.”
Giffords was reelected by Arizona’s 8th District to a third term in Congress this past November. Her Republican opponent in the recent election, Jesse Kelly, asked supporters, shortly after his defeat, to donate money in order to “shoot a fully automatic M 16” to “get on target” and help “remove Gabrielle Giffords,” according to progressive sites Credo Action and Fire Dog Lake. Credo added that Palin praised Kelly on Fox Business News, saying, “I don’t feel worthy to lace his combat boots.”
Credo, Move On, U.S. Action/True Majority, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, film maker Michael Moore, and other progressives have been calling for an end to political figures’ encouragement of violence. Olbermann said, “Violence, or the threat of violence has no place in our democracy.” Moore wrote of the “climate of hate and violence that exists these days … Congresswoman Giffords was a target of this violence.” Credo is petitioning Sarah Palin to “renounce use of shooting images in political rhetoric immediately, and stop using your platform to promote violence and validate violent calls to action on the right,” adding, “stop validating political figures who use violent metaphors in” such calls. Describing the shooting as a “terrible tragedy,” Move On noted that “Gabrielle Giffords is an up-and-coming, shining star in Congress. Anyone who's been around her will tell you that she's smart, passionate, and one of the hardest working members of Congress. Robert Reich, one of her mentors, once said, ‘I wouldn't be surprised if she's the first or second female president of the United States.’” And U.S. Action/True Majority organized a “virtual candlelight vigil to share support, prayers, sympathy and wishes for recovery and peace with Rep. Giffords, Judge Roll and all the victims and their families.”