Assassination target Rep. Gabrielle Giffords boasted in an interview last year: "I have a Glock 9 millimeter and I'm a pretty good shot." The startling comment coming from a woman who would soon be a shooting victim of the same gun model reveals perhaps the one thing she has in common with her attacker: gun possession in a state obsessed with Americans' right to pack a weapon. Giffords' ability with a gun didn't save her in the attack by suspected gunman Jared Lee Loughner, but likely won her votes and is a testament to "the passionate gun culture in Arizona, which crosses political lines and is notable for its fierceness, even in the West," reports the New York Times.
The federal judge killed in the Tucson shooting regularly took pistol lessons at a shooting range, and a doctor who operated on Giffords is a member of a shooting club where law enforcement officers regularly practice. Arizona's gun laws are among the loosest in the nation—the state doesn't require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Many Arizonans see the tragedy as more reason, not less, to pack a gun. The big mistake the judge made, one gun owner told the Times, is that he "probably didn't have his gun" because he'd just been to church.