Arizona Congresswoman Shot in the Head at Public Event January 08, 2011
Democratic Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at close range by a gunman Saturday morning outside a grocery store in Tucson while holding a public event.
18 people were injured, and six were killed, including Federal Judge John M. Roll and a 9 year old girl, when a lone gunman opened fire on them.
According to a local news report, Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range. She was taken to University Medical Center in Tucson.
Last March, Giffords was one of ten House Democrats who were the subject of harassment over their support for the national health care overhaul. At the time, the front door of Giffords' Tucson office had been shattered in an early morning incident.
Giffords had been a top target by Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections, but managed to win a tough re-election battle against a tea party candidate.
The up-and-coming lawmaker, known as a moderate Democrat who paid close attention to constituent concerns, had been singled out with a gun target by Sarah Palin's SarahPac website. Giffords was one of the 20 Democrats on the ballot in November who appeared in a graphic on the website with gun sights over them. "It's time to take a stand," Palin's fundraising appeal said of Giffords and the other Democrats, who had all supported the health-care bill.
AP reports that Giffords was talking to a couple outside of a local Safeway when the suspect ran up and fired from about four feet away. The man was tackled when he tried to flee the scene. Police confirmed that a young man was in custody in connection with the shooting.
This was not the first time someone brought a gun to a Giffords event. A protester in August brought a gun to Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event in Douglas. Police were alerted after he dropped the firearm.
Giffords began her political career as a legislator in the Arizona House of Representatives, where she served from 2001 to 2003.
Giffords was elected to the Arizona Senate in the fall of 2002 and is the youngest woman ever elected to this body. She took office in January 2003 and was re-elected in 2004. She resigned from the Arizona Senate on December 1, 2005, in preparation for her congressional campaign.
In early 2005, Giffords said of the Arizona Legislature: "The previous two legislatures enjoyed the benefits of a working coalition consisting of Democrats and middle-of-the-road Republicans. Due to a lack of competitive legislative districts and low voter turnout during GOP primaries, a fairly large crop of mostly conservative Republicans will dominate the House and Senate in 2005." Giffords' concerns played out as an increasingly conservative legislature combined with a Democratic governor, led to increased polarity in Arizona politics.
Expanding health care access was an issue of interest for Giffords when she served in the legislature. She also pushed for bills related to mental health and was named by the Mental Health Association of Arizona as the 2004 Legislator of the Year. Giffords also earned the Sierra Club's Most Valuable Player award.
In her first month in office, Giffords voted in favor of increased federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, raising the minimum wage, endorsing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, new rules for the House of Representatives targeting ethical issues, and the repeal of $14 billion of subsidies to big oil companies, in favor of renewable energy subsidies and the founding of the Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve.
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