‘Tough’ Giffords back at scene of shooting

One year on from the chilly January morning when 19 people were gunned down outside Tucson, Arizona, supermarket, a fragile figure, moving stiffly but determinedly, joined her constituents as bells tolled 19 times.

They began to ring at 10.11am, the exact moment of the shooting, and tolled for each of the six who died, among them a judge and a nine-year-old girl, and for the 13 survivors including Congress member Gabrielle Giffords herself.

Later, there was a service in the cathedral and a candle-lit vigil.

January 8 2010 marked a senseless act of slaughter. The first of dozens bullets fired hit Giffords, and among those who died was Gabe Zimmerman, her outreach director, who organised the local Congress on Your Corner event, where anyone and everyone was invited to turn up outside the Safeway supermarket for a casual chat.

Last May, a federal judge ruled that Jared Loughner, a 22-year-old high-school dropout, was mentally incompetent to stand trial for the shootings.

“Sad. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,” Giffords said, recalling the appalling morning. “Tough as nails,” she said, agreeing with her recently retired astronaut husband Mark Kelly’s assessment of her character.

Like many of those injured, Giffords, taken unconscious to hospital, was not expected to survive. Now, although her speech is halting, she still has limited use of her right arm owing to damage to the left side of her brain and she becomes exhausted if allowed to push herself too far, her husband and aides are speculating on her return to full-time politics. She has until May to decide whether to put her name forward for the November elections and more than $800 000 has been raised for a potential campaign.

Survivors of the shooting, including one middle-aged man weeping at the memory of nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, shared their memories with the Fix Gun Checks campaign to tighten laws on illegal firearms. —

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Maev Kennedy
Maev Kennedy works from London. Maev Kennedy is a freelance arts and archaeology journalist Maev Kennedy has over 2227 followers on Twitter.

Odd drop in how Covid-19 numbers grow

As the country hunkers down for a second week of lockdown, how reliable is the data available and will it enable a sound decision for whether South Africans can leave their homes on April 16?

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders