We have conflicting reports at this time regarding whether Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, has survived a shooting at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson. Earlier reports I saw said she was killed by a gunshot to the head, but now it appears that she is still in surgery.
Others who were there were also shot (as many as 12) and some have died.
There is little information on the gunman, who was tackled by bystanders when he tried to flee. He appears to be a young 20s-ish man, and there is currently no information as to whether the shooting was politically motivated.
Here Chicago, and many cities, we're used to a lot of violence. Even when policemen are killed in the line of duty, which is far too often, we seem to acknowledge the fact and mourn, and then move on with our lives. But this kind of senseless killing that potentially is an act that is antithetical to our entire form of free government is a national tragedy. By all accounts, Congresswoman Giffords was engaged in exactly the kind of activity that a true public servant was supposed to be doing -- going out on the street, into the community, and talking to her constituents. If the gunman's motivation was to stifle free speech, our democratic form of government, or to try to advance some kind of political agenda, no form of punishment is sufficient, and no words too strong, to condemn such a direct attack on our democratic, representative form of government.
We'll say a prayer for the victims and for Congresswoman Giffords, and hope she pulls through, and is able to continue representing her constituents.
UPDATED x1 3:20 p.m.: Latest word is that Congresswoman Giffords is alive. Of course, the blame for the shooting is already starting. But before people start laying the blame at the foot of right-wingers (the obvious target), you might want to take a look at the eerie coincidences over at Daily Kos (courtesy of HillBuzz).
UPDATED x2 3:30 p.m.: Appears that doctors say they are optimistic about Giffords' recovery and she is out of surgery. Is this guy the shooter?
UPDATED x3 5:10 pm: Elected officials are being warned to take precautions in the wake of the Giffords shooting. New Congressman Bob Dold had this reaction to the shooting:
"As officials, it is one of the greatest honors to represent the needs and concerns of our residents, and we will not allow the deplorable actions of one effect our ability to serve our districts, states and country," said Rep. Bob Dold
UPDATED x4 8:45 pm: Though its been more than 12 hours since this tragedy, answers are slow in coming, and in many ways, may never come. The natural instinct in such situations is to try to understand, to make sense of what has happened, but sometimes it's just not possible. Right now, I'm sure the suspect is being questioned, and everyone is trying to find out more about this person, to understand what drove him to do this. Here's Ben Smith of Politico on what he's been able to piece together, and I'm sure we will learn much more about this obviously very disturbed, if not insane, person. More here.