Three years ago today, tragedy struck the Tucson community. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was faithful to her constituents, was meeting with them on a normal sunny day for a “Congress On Your Corner” event at the Safeway on Ina and Oracle.
A very disturbed young Pima Community College student started shooting everyone in sight. While the obsessive focus of the mentally ill man was Giffords, six people lost their lives, including a nine-year old girl, and many more were injured.
The good people of Tucson and across the nation were devastated. At the same time, politicians exploited the tragedy for their own political purposes.
Yesterday, on January 7th, 2014, City Council member Steve Kozachik brought a partisan group of elected officials and city leaders to remember the event and prevent such an event in the future. The panel included Clarke Romans, Peter Ambler, Lisa Kiser, Jeannette Murray, Mayor Rothschild, Sheriff Dupnik, Chief of Police Villasenor, and of course Kozachik.
Stephen Brigham a Director at UA Health Networks, started the event off on a truly bipartisan basis by concentrating on the memorial and the plans for it going forward. He remarked, “We went from a tragedy to an opportunity to have a different type of conversation with each other… And remember, these tragedies are not always about guns, not always about mental health. They are about any form of tragedy, but they have common features. The community always wants to be defined not by the tragedy, but by their response.”
January8memorial.org is where citizens can go to donate and get involved with supporting the memorial.
Then the viewing of “Living for 32,” a movie about a survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings, and his crusade to get stricter background checks and ban larger capacity magazines. A moving film designed to force the viewer to become emotionally involved and form only one conclusion: guns must go.
The desired effect was evident during the discussion portion of the event, when one resident said, “They need to stop gun shows… It’s a band aid approach.”
The majority of panelist paid lip service to only wanting to tighten background checks and limit clip capacity. The audience, perhaps under the influence of the film, seemed to want more.
Melinda Carroll remarked, “I am very concerned about gun violence and the lax gun laws in this country… Sadly, on a federal level it would be nice if we had some laws like banning assault weapons, the big guns. But I don’t know if that is going to happen and that is why I appeared tonight because I’m not sure how hindered Arizona is with the laws that we can’t limit gun violence.”
Steve Kozachik tried to reach a bipartisan approach by concentrating on issues such as mental health, suicide prevention, and targeting straw buyers.
However, Sheriff Dupnik, who on that tragic day three years ago, condemned Tucson as the Mecca of hate and bigotry, fed partisan hate and bigotry again. On the issue of his proposed clip capacity law, he said, “The legislator didn’t react in a favorable way… The word that we got back was from some of the leaders was tell those people down in Tucson to stop whining and that’s the state of politics in guns.”
When the tragedy struck three years ago, there was no differentiating between people, and this day should be completely absent of such divisiveness. We all mourn for the lost, support the victims, and have hope that Tucson’s future will be devoid of anything ever like this again. On this day the inclusiveness of the phrase, “together we thrive” should be our motto.
On this day, let us all remember our lost:
U.S. District Judge John McCarthy Roll, 63.
Gabriel Zimmerman, Giffords’ director of communications, 30.
Christina Taylor Green a member of her school student council, 9.
Dorwin Stoddard a community pastor, 76.
Dorthy Morris, 76.
Phyllis Scheck, 79.