giffords13What awful news:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event in Tucson on Saturday. There are conflicting reports about whether she was killed.

The Pima County, Ariz., sheriff’s office told member station KJZZ the 40-year-old Democrat was killed. At least nine other people, including members of her staff, were injured.

Giffords, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

Giffords was talking to a couple when the suspect ran up and fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said.

Condolences to all of the families involved.  At first it was reported that Giffords had been killed, but MSNBC and Reuters are now reporting that she is alive and in surgery.

The suspect is in custody, but little is known about motive at this point.

It has already been brought up, though, in several places, that Giffords was one of the representatives targeted [on a map, with gun sights] by Sarah Palin’s PAC for voting for healthcare reform. If it becomes evident that this was politically motivated, Sarah Palin’s metaphor is no longer a metaphor.

More to come…

UPDATE: TPM has confirmed that one of those shot this morning was a federal judge.

UPDATE II:  NBC is reporting that Giffords is expected to survive.  The gunman’s name is Jared Laughner, and motive is still unclear

Meanwhile, here is some more information on John Roll, the federal judge who was murdered this morning, from Jane Hamsher:

Roll was appointed to the US. District Court for the District of Arizona in 1991 by George H.W. Bush, and served as the court’s lead judicial administrative officer.

Roll received death threats in 2009 after he ruled that a case filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher could go forward.  Four men were identified, but Roll did not press charges on the advice of the Marshals Service:

In February, when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout.

When Roll ruled the case could go forward, Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats.

In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online.

“They said, ‘We should kill him. He should be dead,’ ” Gonzales said.

Roll, who is the chief federal judge in Arizona, said both he and his wife were given a protection detail for about a month.

“It was unnerving and invasive. . . . By its nature it has to be,” Roll said, adding that they were encouraged to live their lives as normally as possible. “It was handled very professionally by the Marshals Service.”

At the end of the month, Roll said four key men had been identified as threat makers.

The Marshals Service left to him the decision to press charges but recommended against it. Roll said he had no qualms about following their advice.

The recommendation was based on the intent of those making the threats.

“I have a very strong belief that there is nothing wrong with criticizing a judicial decision,” he said. “But when it comes to threats, that is an entirely different matter.”

Wow.  A Democrat and a Bush appointee.

Meanwhile, one of those killed was a young child, as per the hospital’s press conference, which is happening right now.

UPDATE III:  More information is now coming out about the accused shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, via Ben Smith at Politico:

The police have named a suspect in the shooting of Gabriel Giffords, Jared Loughner. A person under that name has a YouTube account that includes suggestions of anti-government political views.

“”You don’t have to accept hte federalist laws,” the video above says; it also insists on the gold and silver standard, talks of revolution, and suggests that the government is imposing “mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”

His linked MySpace page, no longer available, included statements about the gold standard and about SWAT teams paying for their equipment with illegal currency.

Among his long list of favorite books in his YouTube profile is Mein Kampf.

As Matt Yglesias just said on Twitter, “Loughner YouTube indicates the thin line between utter insanity and gold standard advocates.”

Indeed.  If you watch the videos on his YouTube, you definitely see the marks of a right-wing anti-government extremist.

UPDATE IV:  Something that may need to be clarified…

Whenever tragedies like this strike, especially when it becomes clear that the event was perpetuated by a person from one side of the ideological spectrum, others who share similar ideologies, yet who are not likely to open fire on a crowd, take offense and grow defensive, so we should be clear about a couple of things:

1.  No one is suggesting that most Republicans, most conservatives, most Glenn Beck-ite Gold Standard wingnuts, are actually a threat to people’s safety.

2.  However, there are certain ideologies that attract their fair share of crazies, and it’s incumbent upon their mentally stable cohorts to acknowledge that, rather than growing defensive.  It is a fact that right-wing extremism is on the rise in the United States.  David Neiwert has been chronicling this for years, and has indeed spoken today on the Gabrielle Giffords tragedy.  What it comes down to is rhetoric, specifically eliminationist rhetoric, which a hallmark of many corners of the Right these days.  While to some it might just Feel Damn Good to talk all violent-like about them damn lib’ruls, there are indeed crazies in the movement who will take that rhetoric to its extreme.  David:

There will be a lot of hand-wringing in the coming days over the shooting of Rep. Giffords this morning at a constituent event — some of it, almost certainly, from the folks at Fox, who will wonder aloud how this kind of thing could happen.

It can happen, in fact, because conservatives so thoughtlessly and readily use violent eliminationist rhetoric when talking about “liberals” (to wit: anyone who is not a conservative). They will adamantly deny it, of course, but the cold reality is that this kind of talk creates permission for angry and violent people to act it out.

Example A: This summer, Pima County Republicans held a “target shoot” event in support of her teabagging opponent, as David Safier at Blogs for Arizona noted at the time:

There’s nothing wrong with having a gun-themed event, if that’s what you want to do. Count me out, but if you want to meet at a shooting range instead of a bowling alley or a baseball stadium, that’s your right and your privilege.

There’s also nothing wrong with having a “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords” event. That’s what the R candidates in CD-8 are trying to do.

But to put it all together, starting with “Get on Target,” moving to “remove Gabrielle Giffords,” then finishing with “Shoot a fully automatic M16” . . .

That goes way beyond cute and clever and moves into a frightening linkage between shooting guns and removing Giffords.

Giffords, as she explained in the video above, was also target in March by vandals.

And Logan warned that it was just a matter of time before we saw this kind of violence last spring, when a gun was found after a Gifford event.

We don’t yet know why the shooter — identified as a 22-year-old man named Jared Laughner — shot Giffords and a number of other people; we’ll learn more as the day progresses. But it’s impossible to survey the events so far and not come to the preliminary conclusion that this was yet another awful act inspired by right-wing hate rhetoric.

Read his whole piece please.

Eliminationist rhetoric is one of the only places where “trickle-down” really works in practice. It starts with people in power [for instance, in the rabid anti-gay movement], who use language to engender fear and anger in their supporters. Most of those who are susceptible to eliminationist rhetoric will never be a danger to anyone. [Indeed, the type of person who is susceptible to that sort of rhetoric tends to be extremely insecure and fearful.] But then, there will be a few who are just unhinged enough to do something about it. This is why Sarah Palin’s name is being thrown around today, because, of all our political figures, she has probably been THE single most irresponsible troll when it comes to the language she uses with her base when referring to her ideological opponents.

But then somehow, when something tragic like this happens, we’re supposed to Be Nice and refrain from pointing out the obvious connections between the rhetoric being employed and the people who actually do things like this.  Absolutely not.  It must be pointed out, because the people who are employing the rhetoric are responsible for their words.