Gabrielle Giffords Returns to Tucson “For Good” in the Wake of Loughner’s Guilty Plea
After many months of intensive care and recovery in Houston for a gunshot wound to the head, former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords has returned to Arizona to live and work again. She is joined by her husband, Mark Kelly, who tweeted, “Moving back to Tucson today. Gabby has been waiting for this day for a long time.”
Back in January 2011, a young gunmen opened fire on a crowd that had gathered for a “Congress on Your Corner” event outside of a Safeway store in Tucson. Giffords, a Democrat, was speaking at the event in an effort to reach out to the community. Jared Loughner showed up at the event and opened fire. He killed six people and injured 13, including Giffords, who took a nearly-fatal shot to the head. Last week, Loughner pleaded guilty to killing six people, as well as pleading guilty to 19 of the 49 charges filed against him.
He admitted that he was guilty of murdering a 9-year-old girl as well as outstanding members of the Tucson community. The tragedy has stayed with residents of Arizona, where gun laws have become extremely lenient, allowing for the weapons to be carried in restaurants and bars, among other things. The Republican-dominated state poses a particular challenge to Democratic Representatives.
Loughner was sentenced to life in prison without parole, rather than the death penalty, the Los Angeles Times reports. Experts confirmed that Loughner was mentally unstable but that he now understands what he has done and is aware of the consequences after regular psychiatric treatment and medication.
While Loughner’s trial has gone on for many months, suspended for some time due to his mental state, Gabrielle Giffords faced months of taxing recovery from a bullet wound to the head. She recovered at special facilities in Houston where she slowly regained speech, movement and normalcy. She returned to the House floor back in August 2011 and also recited the Pledge of Allegiance on the one year anniversary of the shooting, MSNBC notes.
While her recovery has been nothing short of miraculous and inspirational, regaining motor skills and remaining determined to continue public service, she stepped down from her position as an Arizona Representative in January in order to recover more fully. CNN notes that Giffords plans to continue on with her career as a public servant in the future. Mark Kelly told the Daily Star, “You know, it’s time for her to get back to as much of a normal life as possible after this type of catastrophic injury.”
Gabrielle Giffords’ story is particularly sobering in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado, which has recently rocked the country. Both tragedies involved a young man with access to firearms and a plot to make a point through violence. Mark Kelly had tweeted the day after the shooting, “Gabby and I were horrified to hear of the tragedy in Colorado last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
Photo Credit: United States Congress