Legislators See Saturday Shooting as Attack on Democracy
Western suburbs, IL — U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski said it’s hard to know what motivated alleged murderer Jared Lee Loughner to kill six people and wound 14 others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
While Lipinski, D-3rd District, of Western Springs, believes the attack was not necessarily politically-motivated, he said it’s detrimental to political debate if people try to start scoring political points, “either from the left or right from this tragedy.”
“I think that apart from this event, we do need to look at the state of our political rhetoric these days,” he said. “I don’t think anyone should ever be threatened. There are no clear lines to be drawn but I think we can all agree we should keep our political arguments to the issues rather than personally attack individuals and demonize anyone who disagrees with us. Right now there is too much of that going on from the left or the right.”
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, R-13th District, of Willowbrook, said the attack was probably more the result of a troubled mind than a political statement.
“I do think this is a message to tone down the rhetoric, but it’s not the cause of it,” Biggert said.
The Congresswoman also said there exists a much gentler tone among legislators on both sides of the political fence the public does not always have a chance to see.
“There’s a lot more camaraderie than the people think there is,” she said.
As for the dangers of public appearances, Lipinski said the incident does make him consider safety concerns.
“But it’s not something I have thought about in the past, my life being in danger,” he said. “At town hall meetings, especially meetings about health care, we called the local police just so there would be some presence. But I never thought of safety except for crowd control. I won’t change anything in terms of what I do except make sure I and my staff are more vigilant for my protection and for the protection of everyone who is there.”
Biggert said she has hosted a number of town hall meetings in her career.
“I think it’s part of our job to be out with our constituents,” she said. “I don’t think I’m going to change the way I do things. I think people think we had a lot more security than we do. I do think one of the differences with Gabrielle was to hold such an event in a parking lot. We’ll have to be more aware and cautious.”
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-14th District, of Winfield, called the incident a senseless tragedy and “joined millions of Americans in condemning it.”
“In targeting an elected official at a public forum where she was interacting with her constituents, this was an attack on our system of government; free, safe interaction between the public and their representatives is critical to a vibrant democracy,” Hultgren said in a statement released today. “People cannot be afraid to participate in the political process.”
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-7th District, of Chicago, said he received a threat by e-mail Sunday, stating “You’re next.”
Davis said the e-mail was actually more of a warning tha a threat from an unknown person about a group that is known to be disruptive snd confrontational at political gatherings.
“He sent the e-mail saying unless somebody does something to stop (the group’s) antics, you will be next,” Davis said.
Davis said it was not the first time he received such a threat and did not take it seriously,
"Obviously one would just try to be as cautious as they could be," he said." Aside from that I don’t see there is much you can do."
As for the rhetoric, Davis agrees it has gotten out of hand.
“It’s becoming a little strident, It’s kind of like in your face,” he said. “It certainly is not civil enough to keep things from escalating. I think everybody needs to tone it down.”
Giffords was wounded in an attack by the lone gunman that left six people dead, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, and wounded 14, including Giffords.
Loughner, 22, is accused of opening fire outside a Tucson supermarket where Giffords was meeting with constituents Saturday.
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