What the Arizona Shootings Mean
Maybe no more access to reps—and hopefully, no more violent rhetoric
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2011 5:07 PM CST
Emergency personnel use a stretcher to carry a shooting victim identified by the Arizona Republic as Gabrielle Giffords outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011.   (AP Photo/James Palka)

(Newser) – As Gabrielle Giffords fights for her life, questions arise: How will this affect other US representatives, who typically interact with the public much more than other political figures? And who—or what—is to blame? Some viewpoints:

  • “Congress and its members are about to be permanently quarantined, physically isolated, from the people it and they represent,” writes Howard Fineman on the Huffington Post. A sad moment, considering 30 years ago, the public could easily walk the halls of the Capitol without encountering security—and in that way, Capitol Hill “was an inspirational symbol of our democracy.” And forget events like Congress on Your Corner—members are now likely to “stay behind closed doors.” (Click for more on this topic from Politics Daily.)

  • Security is rare at events like the one Giffords was shot at, but that could change now. Rep. Maxine Waters tells Politico, “We’re vulnerable, and there’s no real way to protect us.” In a separate piece, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Heath Shuler say they will now carry guns for protection while in their home districts.
  • In the wake of the shooting, many were quick to blame violent political rhetoric (see: Sarah Palin’s crosshairs map). “Rhetorical recklessness … permeates our political moment,” writes Matt Bai in the New York Times. “The question is whether Saturday’s shooting marks the logical end point of such a moment—or rather the beginning of a terrifying new one.” Politicians—and the public—must reign in such rhetoric, or this tragedy will be “the first in a series of gruesome memories to come.”
  • But let’s not go blaming Sarah Palin and that infamous map for this tragedy, writes Howard Kurtz on the Daily Beast: “This isn't about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map; it's about a lone nutjob who doesn't value human life. It would be nice if we briefly put aside partisan differences and came together with sympathy and support for Gabby Giffords and the other victims, rather than opening rhetorical fire ourselves.”