January 8, 2011 – U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot in Tucson, Arizona

In 2006, Gabrielle (“Gabby”) Giffords was elected to the U.S. Congress to represent the 8th District of Arizona.

Gabrielle Giffords in Congress, before her injury

On this day in history, Representative Giffords and eighteen others were shot during a “town hall” for constituents in the parking lot of a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona. Six people died, including a nine-year-old girl. Thirteen were injured, with Giffords sustaining the most serious injuries. She was shot through the head at point-blank range, and her medical condition was initially described as “critical.”

The shooter, a 22-year-old Tucson man who was fixated on Giffords, was tackled by bystanders and arrested at the scene. He pleaded guilty to 19 counts, and in November 2012 was sentenced to life in prison.

After the incident, many politicians expressed grief and condemnations. Republicans sent thoughts and prayers, while stressing the importance of their “liberal” interpretation of the Second Amendment. In April 2011, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into law which designated the Colt Single Action Army Revolver as Arizona’s state firearm.

In August, 2011, the Pima County Republican Party [Tucson is in Pima County] featured a giveaway to raise money for GOTV (Get Out the Vote) efforts. For just $10, one could purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win a brand new Glock 23. Giffords was shot with a Glock 19. The raffle gun came preloaded with adjustable grips, a case, and three 12-round magazines.

In December 2012, following the mass shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, in Newtown, Connecticut, Gabby and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, gun owners themselves, announced the formation of an organization to fight the gun violence epidemic. [In 2020, Mark Kelly won a seat in the U.S. Senate.] Originally named Americans for Responsible Solutions, the organization quickly became known as a leader in the growing movement to save lives from gun violence.

Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords

In 2016, Americans for Responsible Solutions joined forces with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to expand its mission, increase its impact, and launch the organization today known as Giffords, as explained on their website.

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