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Ms. CHU. Madam Speaker, this weekend, a horrible tragedy befell the city of Tucson, the State of Arizona and the Nation. One of our own, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was doing her duty as a Member of Congress. She was out in the neighborhood, talking face to face with her constituents about their concerns and their problems. ``Congress on Your Corner'' was an event she had done before with success and she wanted to start the New Year with an open door to her constituents.
When she arrived at the local Safeway, dressed in a red blazer, black slacks and black pumps, she greeted those in attendance, hugged each of her staff and gave a short speech. Then, constituents began asking questions, getting their photo taken, and asking for help. It was then, only minutes after the event began, that a young man, armed with a semiautomatic handgun with 33 deadly rounds, directly faced Gabby and shot her point blank in the head. But he didn't pause; he kept shooting. With such rapid fire, those waiting in line to speak to Gabby had no chance to escape his wrath.
What happened in Tucson was not just about unspeakable tragedy. It was about heroic actions. When the gunman turned to flee, a brave but wounded bystander grabbed the shooter, as others came to his aid. One courageous older woman, Patricia Maisch, tried to wrestle a second magazine full of another 33 deadly bullets from him to protect others from his indiscriminate gunfire. She began shouting at him, even as she remained in danger. She raised the questions many of us asked when we heard of his horrible actions: ``How could you be so hateful? How could you do this?''
As the paramedics and emergency responders attended to the scene, the true sorrow of the event became clear. Twenty patriotic Americans were shot, many severely. Six of them lost their lives for no reason other than that they participated in the democratic process.
This tragedy has touched our Nation to its very core. The fact that this horrific event would occur during such an open democratic event has chipped away at our innocence as a country. The fact that some would rather turn to bullets instead of words to address differing opinions makes us feel as though our democratic process is under siege.
However, it is my hope that the lives of those six brave souls will not be lost in vain, and that we can become even stronger as a Nation. Our Nation was founded on the premise that the American people have the right to elect their own leaders, to have their voices heard, and have a say in their own government. We fought, and many died, to protect that right. And no one is allowed to take that away from us.
The American democratic process should not be one of anger and hateful words, but of discourse and discussion. After all our country has been through to protect our freedoms, we must maintain respect for one another and understand that the ability to share differing opinions is at the core of what makes our Nation so great.
So it is in the spirit of respect and democracy that I support this resolution. My prayers go out to the families of the victims, all of the survivors, and to my friend Gabby Giffords, for a speedy and full recovery. To those who lost loved ones, words simply cannot express my feelings of sadness at such a devastating loss.
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