President Obama on the jumbo-tron in Arizona Stadium. (Photo Credit: Pamela Powers)
Yesterday in Tucson, President Obama urged us as a nation to move forward from the tragedy of Saturday’s mass shooting and become a better democracy. He invoked the memory of little Christina Taylor Green saying, “I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it to be.”
Last Saturday, we saw 2nd amendment gun rights trample 1st amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Will the massacre in Tucson prompt us to rethink our lax gun laws– particularly in Arizona? I hope so…
Will this tragedy prompt us to rethink how we have cast aside the mentally ill in our country? I hope so…
Will this tragedy prompt us to set aside racism and hate speech and move forward together as one nation? I hope so…
Glock semiautomatic handgun like the one used to shoot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and kill six innocent people in Tucson on January 8, 2010. (Photo Credit: Stinsonarms.com)
Regardless of what Bill O’Rielly says, right-wingers are the masters of spin.
I knew that my anti-gun-violence article in Sunday’s Tucson Citizen would spark a plethora of the 2nd Amendment freedom comments, but I was really surprised at the level of denial regarding the link between gun ownership and violence.
I was particularly shocked that some commenters said if there had been armed citizens in the crowd at the Safeway that they could have stopped the gunman from shooting 18 people and killing six. (That’s the ticket– a re-enactment of Shootout at the OK Corral in suburban Tucson. People, just because you own a gun doesn’t mean you magically know how to shoot straight.)
Another person basically said, S**t happens and brushed off the assassination attempt and mass murder as something that happens in a country with so many people.
To Heller, Saturday’s shooting rampage, which killed six and injured 14 outside a northwest-side Safeway store, is evidence of the wisdom of liberal gun laws.
“This shows why it is so vital to have an armed citizenry,” Heller said. “If you can’t get the guns out of society, what can you do? You can have a well-prepared citizenry.”
Personally, I agree with Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who called out Arizona politicians for passing racist laws and fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry in our state.
Now Dupnik is coming under fire from wing-nut talk radio host Jon Justice and Senator Jon Kyl. As the right mobilizes against Dupnik for having the nerve to speak truth to power, the left is organizing a boycott of Justice’s advertisers.
CREDIT: FOX News
CAPTION: Clarence Dupnik, Pima County AZ Sheriff, Blames AZ Political Culture for Shooting
The intrusive government “permit” system in Arizona, introduced in 1994 with paperwork, approvals, fingerprinting, criminal-database listings, required classes, two mandatory tests, taxation and expiration dates to exercise “rights” is still available, but is now optional. Enormous police resources that could be going directly toward reducing crime have instead been diverted by the program into registering, regulating and tracking the innocent. About 3% of the public have signed up for the plastic-coated permission slips, though an estimated 50% of the state’s population keeps and bears arms. Official sources acknowledge they get millions of dollars per year from the permit taxes called “fees.”
“This new law brings rights restoration for the public, and an increase in freedom for law-abiding people,” said Dave Kopp, a lobbyist for the Arizona Citizens Defense League that requested and promoted the new law. “The people have the same right to bear arms discreetly that they have to bear arms openly, we are simply correcting statute to reflect that. If your jacket accidentally covers your sidearm, that no longer exposes you to criminal penalties.” A woman will be able to put a handgun in her handbag, go about her business, and not be subject to arrest.
The key changes in the law were made by repealing the infringing language in A.R.S. §13-3102, not by enacting new rules. A number of other changes were made in SB 1108, the bill that carried the Constitutional Carry law, and these will be described in plain English and posted by gunlaws.com next week. The new law will become effective 90 days after the legislature closes, or approximately in July.
Guns don’t make us safer; they only make our lives more dangerous. According to public health research, the number one risk factor for being shot by a gun is owning a gun. Also, according to the research, gun owners are more likely to shoot friends and family members than burglars or other bad guys. Wake up, Arizona.
Extremist FOX news pundits like Glen Beck and Sean Hannity and politicians like Sarah Palin whose website displayed gunsite logos on 22 targeted Congressional districts– including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ CD8– and Nevada’s Sharon Angle who talked about “second amendment solutions” should be ashamed of themselves for the role they have played in the proliferation of hate speech and violence in the US.
In this special video comment, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann calls out these pundits and politicians. It aired on January 8, after Giffords was shot point blank in the head at a Tucson grocery store.
CREDIT: Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC
CAPTION: Keith Olbermann comments on gun violence and the Giffords' shooting
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords with supporters on primary election night 2010. (Photo Credit: Pamela Powers)
University Medical Center (UMC) has announced that there will be a media briefing to update everyone about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ condition this morning– Sunday, January 9, 2011– at 10 a.m. in Kiewitt Auditorium. Giffords was shot in the head– along with 18 other people– at a Safeway in northwest Tucson on Saturday, January 8 while she was meeting with constituents. She is in critical condition at UMC following surgery.
UPDATE from UMC press conference: The update released this morning from UMC is that Giffords remains in the hospital’s intensive care unit and is on a ventilator. The bullet went through her brain on the left side– which is better than it crossing through both hemispheres of the brain. A multi-surgeon team that conducted the 38-minute surgery on Saturday removed bone fragments and a small portion of her brain which had been damaged by the gunshot, along with pieces of her skull (in order to minimize brain swelling). She was responsive to simple verbal cues yesterday and today. The medical team is optimistic about her survival but will not comment on her future functioning.
Here is UMC’s update from Saturday.
Tucson, AZ – Peter Rhee, MD, MPH, medical director of University Medical Center’s Trauma and Critical Care, and professor of surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Department of Surgery, spoke at a media briefing regarding U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and other patients who were admitted to the Level 1 trauma center.
UMC received 11 patients; five are in critical condition, five are in serious condition and a nine-year old child died.
UMC neurosurgeons completed the surgery on Representative Giffords, who was listed in critical condition following a single gunshot to the head. The congresswoman was recovering from surgery in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“I am as optimistic as I can be at this point about the congresswoman’s condition. We will watch her recovery during the next 24 hours and will know more,” said Dr. Rhee.
Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup said, “This is a grave tragedy for our community, the state of Arizona and our country.” He called this a time of prayer for the people who are fighting for their lives and their family members. He has instructed the chief of the Tucson Police Department to cooperate completely with the investigation that is under way led by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Roberto Villaseñor, Tucson chief of police, and Walkup asked the media to verify information with sources from University Medical Center and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, which has scheduled a media briefing for 6 p.m. today at Westward Look Resort in Tucson. Media are asked to verify the briefing time and location with the Pima County Sheriff Department.
Robert Shelton, PhD, president of the University of Arizona, acknowledged the work not only of the public safety officers, but also the staff of UMC, including Dr. Rhee and his entire team.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords surrounded by supporters on primary election night 2010. (Photo Credit: Pamela Powers)
News of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting rocked the Pima County Democratic Party’s reorganization meeting today in Tucson. A Facebook post from the Three Sonorans sent shockwaves through the Democrats’ media brainstorming session as smart phones lit up around the event.
Tears and disbelief spread amongst the precinct committee members and party officials who had gathered to elect new party officers and begin to develop strategies for the future. Many in attendance had worked tirelessly on multiple Giffords’ campaigns.
The meeting suspended temporarily as delegates made phone calls, tuned in radios, and watched the TV news which were conflicting early on. At one point, NPR, CNN and local TV affiliate KOLD all reported– prematurely– that Giffords had died. At the time of this writing, Giffords is recovering from surgery at University Medical Center (UMC) after a bullet that went through her brain. According to a press conference at UMC, 10 shooting victims had been taken there, and one– a child– had died as of 3 p.m. today. National Public Radio reported 18 shooting victims, including 6 dead.
After the meeting resumed, Democrats unanimously elected a slate of new officers for 2011-2012 and unanimously passed a resolution condemning HB2281– the Arizona law banning ethnic studies at Tucson High School.
The new officers are:
Jeff Rogers, returning for another term as chair of the Pima Dems
Deya Nevarez, 1st vice chair
Paul Eckerstrom, 2nd vice chair
Paul Durham, treasurer
Elaine Lim, recording secretary
Martin Bacall, corresponding secretary
After the quickest election in the history of the Pima Dems, more than of the 100 party faithful adjourned to the party headquarters for a vigil for Giffords. Multiple Tucson Police Department squad cars were dispatched to the Democratic Party meeting at Rincon High School and to the subsequent vigil; Giffords had been scheduled to speak at the meeting today.
Pamela Powers Hannley writes the Tucson Progressive blog on the TucsonCitizen.com and contributes articles to the Huffington Post and Salon.com. She has had more than 30 years of experience in written, visual, and electronic communication—including freelance writing, photography, graphic design, and consulting. In addition to blogging for the Citizen, she is the Managing Editor of an international medical research journal.
Hannley has authored medical research articles, print magazine and newspaper stories, and numerous cancer prevention and self-help publications.
She has been a blogger since 2006, joined the ranks of Tucson Citizen bloggers in October 2010, and started contributing to the Huffington Post in 2011 and to Salon.com in 2012.
Hannley holds a masters’ degree in public health from The University of Arizona and a bachelors’ degree in journalism from The Ohio State University. She is a native of Amherst, Ohio but has lived in Tucson since 1981.