U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

This Sunday, January 8, Arizonans and many others around the country will recall a horrific shooting that killed six people and injured 13.

Though deaths by loaded weapon are relatively commonplace in this country, certain factors ensured that the Tucson shooting would ring in our memories far longer than the sound of the shots did. Among those felled were U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and U.S. District Court Judge John Roll. Giffords survived; Roll died.

I wrote about the event a few times in 2011, the first time just two days after the shooting:

“The lives of judges and Congress-folk are no more important than the lives of anyone else—not a jot. But a person of my age was raised on a nutritious diet of study—of history, of federalism, of the U.S. Constitution. We learned—and many of us still feel—that our government is OUR government.

“So when a criminal attacks a judge and a member of Congress, he takes arms against all of us. When he ratchets up political dissent to transform it into a chambered round, and then sends his rebellion hurtling out the end of a gun barrel, he aims it at every American citizen.”

(The complete post is here.)

Chief Judge John M. Roll

Since then, I’ve written about Giffords, the shooting, and the coverage of guns in the state more times than I would have guessed I ever would have.

This week, a PBS program shares some stories from survivors and aims to heal some of the wounds that have been made. Read more about it here.

Meanwhile, efforts at civil discourse continue. Another recent one featured former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Have a good and thoughtful weekend.

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U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords celebrated her 41st birthday yesterday. That was five months after she was shot in the head by a would-be assassin in Tucson. Days after that awful shooting, I wrote about it (and later in regard to a UA Law event I did the same), and I’m always interested to see reactions to it from people outside the state.

Reports are that she is making some therapeutic progress—though that must surely be measured in tiny steps, given the severity of her injuries. But many people have felt they were celebrating alongside her as she watched her husband command the Space Shuttle Endeavour into orbit. The Tucson tragedy, and Giffords’ slow recovery, have transfixed a stunned nation.

On Wednesday, someone who had never met Giffords before did what he could to help celebrate her birthday. Jeff Koterba is a cartoonist for the Omaha (Neb.) World Herald, and he has committed himself this spring to memorializing some of the pain and sacrifice torn from victims on that sunny January morning.

One of his works depicts Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly. Here it is.

Later, when Koterba learned that Giffords’ friends and colleagues were planning to present her with his framed cartoon as a gift, he decided to pen his own best-birthday wishes to the U.S. Representative in the newspaper. You can read them here.

The artist had preceded that with a cartoon featuring Christina Taylor Green, the young girl who was killed that morning in Tucson. You may recall that she had been born on September 11, 2001, and so that tragic day was always an important part of her life. Koterba decided to feature that event in his cartoon about her.

Here is a news story about that cartoon. As it says:

“Koterba had known from news reports that tragedy had marked the beginning of Christina’s life, too. She was born Sept. 11, 2001. He didn’t know until hearing from the family that Christina’s mom is from New York City and that one of her aunts is a firefighter.”

Finally, here is a cartoon of his from September 18, 2001.

There is plenty more to see on this talented guy’s own website. Among the items you should read is his bio, which includes this noteworthy fact:

Jeff Koterba

“Jeffrey Koterba is a writer, musician, and cartoonist. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and during the summer of 1978 was struck by lightning. By coincidence, a few weeks later he landed his first cartooning job on his high school newspaper.”

On Friday, I’ll write about another cartoonist I recently had the pleasure to meet: Nick Galifianakis. But for today, I’ll just send a happy belated birthday to Representative Giffords.

Last June, I wrote about a growing national boycott of Arizona by musicians in response to its passage of SB1070, our immigration-criminal law. The boycott was organized by Sound Strike, a coalition of musicians.

This week, we learned that Arizona activist (and possible Phoenix mayor candidate) Kimber Lanning landed a national convention of the Alliance of Independent Media Stores. One of the headliners will be the band Calexico.

To read Kimber’s letter imploring support for the February event, go here (or scroll to the bottom of this post).

For more on the story from the Republic, go here.

Here’s Kimber’s letter:

My friends,

Calexico

I have worked to secure the national convention of music industry professionals here in Phoenix from Feb 2-6. We will have about 100 folks in town from around the country and we’re trying to put a good face on Arizona. Six months ago, the organizers were considering boycotting Arizona, but we convinced them to come by outlining several concerts that would be a tribute to our Latino culture and heritage, which they are all very excited to see.

Calexico is my favorite Arizona band of all time (http://www.myspace.com/casadecalexico/music) and that’s saying a lot since I’ve been in this business for 25 years. They do a wonderful job combining indie rock with Mariachi and their live show is simply amazing. We are doing the show at Corona Ranch (http://www.coronaranch.com/), which if you haven’t been is truly a hidden gem here in town – at the base of South Mountain, it’s everything we are proud of here in Arizona. Opening the show will be Sergio Mendoza with Salvador Duran (http://www.myspace.com/ylaorkesta/music) and Mariachi Pasion (http://www.mariachipasion.com/).

I am asking all of my friends to please, please grab your partner, your family and friends, and come help us celebrate Arizona heritage with our guests from around the country. Calexico, as you may know, is very, very close to Gabby Giffords, and this will be their first appearance after the horrors in Tucson. We need to come together as Arizonans to celebrate and to heal.

If you only see one show this year, please let this be the one.

Friday, February 4th, 7 PM, tickets are available here or at Stinkweeds, Hoodlums, or Zia.

Lastly, a percentage of the proceeds will be going to Ear Candy Charity, an organization working to put musical instruments into the hands of children, which we hope will teach them compassion and tolerance. Music is the universal language, after all.

Thanks in advance, for your presence.

Kimber Lanning

P.S. please help me spread the word by inviting others I may not know who appreciate the importance of this occasion.

I have heard more than one person say that they are pretty much “done” reading any further analyses of Saturday’s shooting in Tucson. And I sure sympathize with that view.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Since the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the news chatter has been unrelenting, and the facts that we learned were largely horrifying. It will take quite some time to determine what brought a 22-year-old man to commit murder on a sunny Saturday morning. Until then, some may say, we should leave the families to grieve. They may be right.

And yet, I had to wonder at my own reaction, which I believe was shared by many. Why did this crime hit so close to home?

That may appear to be an offensive question. After all, six people were killed, and others are hovering somewhere between life and death. A man died sprawled across his wife, successfully saving her life as he gave his own. And a 9-year-old girl, eager to meet a Congresswoman, was savagely shot in the chest.

Isn’t that enough reason for this tragedy to hit home?

Well, yes, except for one thing. We are a violent country.

I know that the crime rate has been dropping over the past decade, but we still have grown accustomed to hear of weapons-related crimes that take lives and limbs. The news in the United States comes with such regularity, we simply file it in the “shooting-death” portion of our brains, and continue on. In our approach to crime and our uninterest in its consequences, we Americans paraphrase Robert Frost: “Good weapons make good neighbors.”

But this post is not about the weapons. It’s about our reactions. It’s not about ballistics, but about the increasing willingness to go ballistic in service to one’s own ends.

Judge John Roll

Shouldn’t we be horrified at any incident in which someone causes the death of another? Yes. But we now require “murder-plus” for it to register.

For me, this incident’s murder-plus may come from my (almost) middle age, and the experiences that half a century brings with it.

For instance, my wife and I have a 9-year-old daughter. The thought of kissing her goodbye as she heads out the door—which we do every day—and then to never see her alive again. It makes you double over in sorrow.

But the attacks on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Judge John Roll—they strike me for different reasons entirely.

One reason may be that they are (or were, in Judge Roll’s case) terrific people. Both have written for Arizona Attorney Magazine (Representative Giffords here, and Judge Roll here), and they were wonderful people to work with.

I knew John Roll personally, and he left you, every time, better off than before you saw him. According to news reports, he died a second after a friendly salutation had escaped his lips. That was Judge Roll.

But the honorifics before their names reveal another reason that their travails leave me stunned.

Understand, the lives of judges and Congress-folk are no more important than the lives of anyone else—not a jot. But a person of my age was raised on a nutritious diet of study—of history, of federalism, of the U.S. Constitution. We learned—and many of us still feel—that our government is OUR government.

So when a criminal attacks a judge and a member of Congress, he takes arms against all of us. When he ratchets up political dissent to transform it into a chambered round, and then sends his rebellion hurtling out the end of a gun barrel, he aims it at every American citizen.

The rule of law in the United States may be one of our most significant attributes. But its security is assailed when disagreement turns violent.

This Wednesday, I will be privileged to serve as a judge on the We the People competition sponsored by the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education. (The program is on Facebook—Like it here.) There, middle-school and high-school students will demonstrate their understanding of the U.S. Constitution. I have judged the competition before, and it’s always terrific.

But this year, as I sit and listen to some of the smartest kids our state has to offer, my thoughts—and that of my fellow judges—will be at least partly with Gabrielle Giffords and John Roll, who served us all, and gave so much for a Constitution and for the people whom it benefits.

Here’s hoping we continue to deserve it.

Suspected shooter Jared Loughner (AP photo)

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona just announced that it has filed a federal complaint against Jared Loughner, the suspect in yesterday’s Tucson shooting. Five counts are alleged. Read the complete release below.

Office of the United States Attorney, Dennis K. Burke

District of Arizona

MEDIA ADVISORY Public Affairs

Sunday, January 09, 2011 MANNY TARANGO

Telephone: (602) 514-7456

Cell: (602) 799-8322

Federal Complaint Filed Against Jared Lee Loughner

PHOENIX – The United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis K. Burke, announced today that his office filed a federal complaint against Jared Lee Loughner. The complaint was signed by Magistrate Judge Michelle Burns in Phoenix.

Loughner is suspected of shooting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Chief Judge John Roll, Giffords’ staff member Gabriel Zimmerman and approximately 16 others Saturday in Tucson.

The federal complaint alleges five counts against Loughner:

COUNT 1

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did attempt to kill Gabrielle Giffords, a Member of Congress; in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 351(c).

COUNT 2

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did unlawfully kill Gabriel Zimmerman, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties and who was assisting Member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords while she was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1111.

COUNT 3

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did unlawfully kill John M. Roll, a United States District Court Judge for the District of Arizona, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1111.

COUNT 4

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did, with intent to kill, attempt to kill Pamela Simon, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties and who was assisting Member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords while she was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1113.

COUNT 5

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did, with intent to kill, attempt to kill Ron Barber, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties and who was assisting Member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords while she was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1113.

Defendant Loughner will make an initial appearance on the complaint at 3 p.m. Monday January 10, 2011 in front of Magistrate Judge Lawrence Anderson at the Sandra Day O’Connor Courthouse in Phoenix in courtroom 302. He is entitled to a preliminary hearing and detention hearing. The court will set a date for both hearings. Loughner remains in federal custody.

The Rules of Criminal Procedure require that a grand jury review the evidence and issue an indictment within 30 days of the defendant’s initial appearance.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is in the process of drafting an indictment against Loughner for presentation to the grand jury.

RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-003( Loughner)

# # #

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/az/