12 years ago today, I was meeting my constituents at a local Safeway.
Then everything changed.
Six people were shot & killed: Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, Gabe Zimmerman. I was shot in the head. 12 more were injured. pic.twitter.com/Gf9N1D41Q7
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) January 8, 2023
Twelve years ago today, as I drove home from a medical appointment, listening to the local NPR station on the radio, the first live report of a mass shooting in a Safeway parking lot in northwest Tucson came on. I pulled into a parking lot and sat, glued to the radio, for the next hour. I remember at some point calling Donna at home and telling her to switch on the radio. Over the course of that first hour, Gabby Giffords was reported dead, then possibly alive but expected to die, then clinging to life. I didn’t know what to believe and could only hope.
Gabby Giffords was my congressperson. Young, vital, smart, pretty, born and raised in Tucson. She rode a motorcycle. Just months before she was shot, I’d written to request she protest the airing of Rush Limbaugh to American troops by Armed Forces Radio. Limbaugh’s radio show in those days was dedicated to undermining, and fomenting opposition to, President Obama. Perfectly fine at home under the umbrella of free speech, but another story entirely when sanctioned by the official Department of Defense radio network for military personnel stationed overseas, whose commander in chief happened to be the very same President Obama. Gabby came through, sending a formal inquiry to DoD. We got shot down, of course, but after that she was my hero, and my heart was in my mouth as I listened to coverage of the shooting. Making things even more immediate, I had a vivid mental picture of the scene of the shooting — when Donna and I first lived in Tucson we rented a house on the northwest side and that had been our corner Safeway.
The mass shooter, who killed six and wounded thirteen others in the Safeway parking lot that day, should never have had a gun. He has that in common with every other mass shooter. In any sane society … alas, ours is not a sane society. The carnage goes on and on.
God bless you, Gabby Giffords.
© 2023, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.