Tucson's two Congressmen both handled today's massacre in Aurora, Colorado with class. The first e-mail to hit my inbox was from Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD8). Not surprisingly, his statement did not even mention that he was shot last year in the assasination attempt/massacre in Tucson. The text of his statement is below the jump.
Longtime Tucson Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD7) also e-mailed a statement, and he did not explicitly raise the Tucson shooting (in which six people died and 13 others hit by bullets). His statement is also below the jump.
Both Barber and Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Cmdr. Mark Kelly, were interviewed tonight on CNN. Barber clearly expressed his emotional response, and also gently told CNN host Piers Morgan that tonight was not the proper time to be discussing gun control - as Morgan was unabashedly intent on doing. Morgan did not argue with Barber, as he had earlier argued with a guest:.
Morgan had asked Barber whether he thought there would be anything passed in Congress. Barber did not take the expected tack, instead noting that there will not be substantive policy decisions between now and November. (CNN has not released the video of the interview, but the transcript is below the jump.)
Kelly also beautifully expressed his emotions and urged the Denver community to come together to help each other get through this:
Rep. Barber's statement: The people of Aurora have suffered an immense loss. We are tested in times like these and we must come together to support one another in the wake of tragedy. I know that Aurora and its residents will take solace in one another in the coming days and weeks. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones last night, each of those who were injured, the first responders and medical teams treating the victims, the law enforcement personnel and the entire community of Aurora. All of Southern Arizona, and the nation, stands with you today.* * *
Grijalva: “My first thoughts are with the families of the people killed or injured in last night’s terrible attack. At such moments, words can offer little relief and comfort. I extend my sympathies and support to them nonetheless. There is very little most of us can do in the wake of such a tragedy, except hope the wounded recover and give the families time and space to grieve. We would be remiss if we did less. I only wish I were able to do more. “This is not the first time such a horrific crime has been visited on a peaceful community. Unfortunately, it may not be the last. When the time comes, we owe it not only to the dead and wounded but to our national community to have a conversation about violence and weapons that is respectful, honest and productive. That conversation should neither start too soon nor be postponed indefinitely. When we have it, and we will, we should be careful not to rely too much on clichés. These attacks, like all violence, cause great pain, and that pain will not heal if we are not honest about it. “As much comfort, support and fellowship as I can offer to the people of Aurora, I humbly offer today. They have done nothing to bring this tragedy to their community. All we can do now is try to help them, and each other, bear the pain of it. Grieving is often long, but grief is not permanent. As a nation, our solemn duty is to help bring them through this period of grief and mourning without expectation, without excessive need for answers, and without judgment. If we take time, I believe we can do that much.”* * *
Barber's interview on CNN:
MORGAN: Ron Barber was a top aide to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot down earlier this year -- last year. He was shot at well. Six people died in that attack, including a nine year old girl. And Bob won the special election to replace Giffords when she stepped down earlier this year. He joins me now.
Ron Barber, today must have brought been extremely difficult memories for you. What was your reaction to what happened?
REP. RON BARBER (D), ARIZONA: Well, it did bring back some terrible memories. Obviously I learned about the shooting as I was boarding my plane this morning to come back from Washington, to come home for the weekend. I'll be meeting with constituents tomorrow. I'm sure I will hear a lot about this when I meet with them.
It did, as I say, bring back some pretty terrible memories. I was listening earlier when you were interviewing the family, Jamie and his family. And I was very moved. In fact, I have to tell you, I'm very emotional coming out of hearing that interview about the tragedy -- the almost tragedy that happened to that family and the loss of 12 people, more injured.
We hope they all survive. Having been through this a year and a half ago, on a smaller scale, thank God, but still it has a lot of similarities. I know what's going on right now with those families who have lost loved ones and who are waiting to see their other loved ones recover. I'm thinking back, for example, to the phone call that my wife got from someone who was at Congress on Your Corner when the shooting occurred, telling her that your husband has been shot.
And she said is he alive? And the woman said to her he's still with us. And I know conversations like that have been going on since the shooting started. And all I can say is I'm heartbroken with what I know what's going on in Aurora with those families who have lost relatives and friends and those who are still recovering.
It's a tragic event. And one would hope it never happens again. And I'm just heartbroken for the families. And I just want them to know how deeply I feel about this and how personal this is with me.
MORGAN: Ron, it is -- no one can speak more eloquently about this than you can. I can't let you go without asking you about the gun control debate. You're a politician. You're going to be responsible for trying to force through some changes to this. Do you think it's possible? Do you think that Washington is going to wake up tomorrow, perhaps, and realize that America simply can't keep having this number of outrages involving guns?
BARBER: Well, I think any decision of serious political issues or policy issues are not going to be had now. And I'll tell you why. In my month in the Congress -- I've been sworn in a month ago. What I know is going on is very little. We have passed some important legislation. The Department of Defense budget yesterday and a week or so ago a budget that will help us build our infrastructure and transportation.
But between now and the election, I really believe that very little is going to be said about major policy issues, including this one. Right now I'm just heartsick over what happened. I have to say, it's deeply moving to me in so many levels about the families that have lost loved ones. And I remember what my wife and family were going through. And I know that's happening over and over again in Aurora.
And I want to say to the people of Aurora, know that we're with you. We care about you. We're sending our prayers to you. Hold on to each other. And please, you know, have hope and look forward to a brighter tomorrow, even though today looks very dark.
MORGAN: Ron Barber, thank you very much for those very powerful words. We'll be back after this break.
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