Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, A Good Friend to Police Officers
But Did The Government Let Her Down? Did We?
Where Was Her Security?
by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR
U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, 41, was shot in the head on January 8, 2011, in a Tucson, AZ, grocery store during a public event. Despite making astounding progress in her rehabilitation, she has now given up her job, as she doesn't feel that she can carry out her duties.
That is a shame. I met Gabby about a year before the shooting at the Arizona Historical Society Book Fair during a Tucson booksigning event for a client, Dorothy Finley, for whom I ghostwrote a memoir.
Gabby's Mentor, Dorothy Finley
Gabby is good friends with Dorothy, a Republican mover and shaker in Arizona who was instrumental in preventing Washington from mothballing Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Gabby, a Democrat, considers Dorothy her mentor, even though they belong to different political parties. Dorothy never pays attention to dogma and doesn't like to be told what to do or for whom to vote. She votes for candidates, regardless of party, that she believes will do the best job for the state and for the country. Consequently, they have a friendly and affectionate relationship.
Before Gabby walked into the room filled with authors and people buying their books, two big plainclothes cops entered, paced the room and looked everyone up and down. I thought, Ahh, Secret Service, FBI. In retrospect, I'm sure I was wrong. They were probably Gabby's staffers acting the role.
Then Gabby entered the room and she looked radiant. I thought she was gorgeous, poised, happy and ebullient.
We Talked About PTSD
After she talked to Dorothy for a few minutes, Gabby and I talked for about 20 minutes about how Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects our military personnel and police officers.
She expressed interest in knowing more about the effects on law enforcement officers so I sent her a copy of my book, CopShock, Second Edition: Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A few weeks later, she sent me a letter expressing her support and concern for our troops and police officers suffering from PTSD.
Firsthand Knowledge of Psychological Trauma
I was grateful that law enforcement had a strong supporter in Washington who would defend police officers and look into the rising toll that PTSD is taking on them. Although she cannot take much of an active role now until she is further along in her recovery, she will acquire a firsthand understanding of what it takes to cope with psychological trauma, as well as physical trauma.
People In Washington Will Listen To Her
Despite good psychological care, it is possible that she will develop PTSD as a result of the violent acts perpetrated against her and those who were killed and wounded while waiting to see her. Her sorrow, grief and survivor's guilt must be unbearable. I predict that because of her undeserved suffering, she will defend those who pin on their badges every day and put their lives at risk as they step out into the unknown. Gabby knows people on the Hill who would listen. Even more, the whole nation would listen to her.
Gabby's Office Was Vandalized
A few days before she was shot, I read in the local newspaper that she was holding another of her "Congress On Your Corner" events. About 10 months before, someone had vandalized her district office by smashing the glass front door.
Shot Fired at Rep. Raul Grijalva's Office
The year before that, someone fired a gun at the office of Raul
Grijalva, another Tucson district representative, and sent him a toxic
white powder in the mail.
Newspaper Article Announced She Would Have No Security
That same newspaper article also stated that Gabby would have no security at the event. You read that right. The local newspaper announced that she would have no security as she didn't want anyone to get between her and the public she loves. In light of previous threats and violent acts, this seemed reckless to me. I wasn't sure what upset me more: the fact that Gabby's team revealed that she would have no security or that the newspaper printed it.
Washington Won't Pay For Security
But we can't hang the tragedy on Gabby or on the newspaper. The real truth of it is more shocking. Washington does not want to pay for security for everybody in Congress who wants to hold an event. Only the top two members of each party in each chamber have full-time security, as well as the President and Vice-President and their families. Everybody else, like Gabby, is on their own.
Vitriolic Comments Stirred Up the Population
American politicians ignored the vitriolic and provocative comments from those who should know better--namely, themselves. They ignored how the general population (that ancient Rome referred to as "the mob") was being stirred up by outrageous name-calling, religious pogroms, outright lies and sneaky, veiled calls for mayhem against anybody who supported President Obama's health care law. One politician, who shall remain nameless and pointless, "targeted" Gabby's district with a bull's eye.
Reminds me of some of the bullying that goes on in our schools.
1 In 5 Adults Had A Mental Illness in 2010, Including Gabby's Attacker
A recent report from the Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey On Drug Use and Health states that as many as one in five or 20 percent of adult Americans suffered from a mental illness in 2010, with those between 18 and 25 having the highest rates. Gabby's alleged gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, was a 22-year-old schizophrenic at the time of the shootings.
Mental Illness Stats Misleading
However, those figures can be misleading. Just because 20 percent of Americans have a mental illness in any given year, does not mean they are either insane or homicidal. According to a report by the Surgeon General, about 2.6 percent of adults have "severe and persistent" mental illness, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
But even that does not make them killers. For instance, most schizophrenics have trouble even formulating a plan, let alone carrying out an act like purchasing a gun and stalking a politician. Another report pegs the number of seriously insane and homicidal individuals (known as serial killers) in the United States at any one time at 50. I don't know how authorities can even know or predict that number.
Gibbering Gobshites and Serial Killers
Nevertheless, walk down any big city street in our country and you will observe gibbering gobshites who are threatening, angry and violent, and some will do anything to satisfy some deep, unfathomable, forbidden urge. David Berkowitz, Kenneth Bianchi, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo, John Wayne Gacy Jr., Charles Manson, and now perhaps Jared Lee Loughner.
Maybe Loughner, allegedly the shooter, doesn't fit the profile of a serial killer like David Berkowitz, which states that to be called a serial killer the person must kill in at least two separate incidents. As far as we know, there has not been another incident where Loughner allegedly murdered people. As far as we know. Has law enforcement looked into that? If he's not an alleged serial killer, than he is an alleged depraved mass murderer and there is a special place at the bottom of the ocean waiting for him along side a certain dead terrorist. Allegedly a place.
The Suspected Gunman
Why did the suspected gunman do it? Jared Lee Loughner, a well-known pot-smoking schizophrenic and sociopath, held a grudge against Gabrielle Giffords and wanted to get even for God-knows-what. Before he set out to kill her, he left a note at home outlining his incomprehensible reasons. Even though many witnesses saw Loughner kill and wound people in the grocery store, under the law he is considered innocent until proven guilty, and that's why I call him the "alleged" or "suspected" gunman.
The authorities believe that this innocent-until-proven-guilty nut job did not find out that the Congress On Your Corner event would have no security from the irresponsible revelation in the newspaper. Apparently, he was on Gabby's email list and received a notice where and when she would be meeting and greeting. Maybe he was encouraged by the attacks on Gabby's and Rep. Grijalva's offices. He couldn't have missed the coverage, as the media pounded on the violent acts like itinerant preachers pounding on their bibles.
Gunman murdered 6, wounded 13
Tragically, the gunman murdered six people, including a nine-year-old girl, a federal judge, and one of Gabby's staffers, and wounded 13. We don't know if he knew she would have no security. Perhaps he thought the Secret Service or local police would be there in force. Maybe he wanted to kill as many as possible and go down in a hail of bullets. We'll never know what went on in that twisted mind.
Do Our Soldiers And Police Get The Same Care As Gabby?
Moving on to Gabby's medical care, I'm sure we can agree that she received extraordinary attention. If she hadn't received the best of care, the people of this country would have rioted and pulled down the Washington Monument. However, when our soldiers or police officers are shot in the head or are inflicted with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), are they given the same level of speedy trauma care? Even though they are not high profile or in the news, are they given the best doctors, the best facilities, and the best health insurance like Gabby was?
After she returns to public life, maybe she will take up the cause for our troops and police officers with TBIs and PTSD and try to get them exemplary medical and psychological care--at the same level she received.
Did Our Government Let Gabby Down?
Representative Gabrielle Giffords Resigns, January 25, 2012
Getting back to the issue of security for our representatives, as this is a big issue that will only become more significant as we acknowledge how many insane people with violent tendencies are walking the streets, driving cars, taking drugs, and buying guns... even if Gabby said that she didn't want security (a rumor), it was our government's responsibility and duty to demand that she be protected.
Could It Happen Again?
It appears that many of our representatives now have a temporary degree of security imposed on them, but I wonder how long that will last?
After a while, everyone will forget what happened, security will be removed, a new wacko will have his day, and everybody will wonder how it could have happened again.
Captain Mark Kelly
Gabrielle Giffords' husband.
Gabby, take all the time you need for recovery. Don't let anybody rush you. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
But oh for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still
-Lord Alfred Tennyson
From top left:
Christina Taylor Green, 9
Dorothy Morris, 76
U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63
From bottom left:
Phyllis Schneck, 79
Dorwan Stoddard, 76
Gabe Zimmerman, 30
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