Lawmakers want Giffords shooting memorial to become nat'l monument

January 9, 2017
In The News

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally introduced a bill Friday to make the memorial Tucson is building to commemorate the shooting that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords part of the national park system.

Six people were killed and 13 were injured when a gunman opened fire in a grocery store parking lot on Jan. 8, 2011.

“It could’ve been us … but for some unexplainable reason it was them,” McSally said. “We need to make this a national memorial and we need to honor those whose lives were lost and those whose lives will never be the same again.”

Giffords was holding a “Congress on Your Corner” event in the parking lot of a Safeway when the gunman opened fire. It was the first-ever assassination attempt on a member of Congress while meeting with constituents. Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman became the first congressional staff member killed while on duty.

McSally, a Republican, now holds Giffords’ seat in the House of Representatives. Giffords is a Democrat. Arizona Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain are advancing the legislation in the Senate.

“We need a national discussion about [violence] and if takes a national memorial and leadership like Gabby and Mark to help bring this together and help for us to have a serious discussion about violence in America then things like this help out a lot,” Rep. Tom O'Halloran, D-Ariz., told USA TODAY.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, have become prominent gun control activists following the shooting.

Dorothy Kret used to attend Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” events frequently, though she wasn't there the day of the shooting. Now she acts as the January 8th Memorial Foundation Board President.

“We needed to have a memorial that was respectful of not just the people who were involved but the Tucson’s community as well,” Kret told USA TODAY. “January 8 in 2011 was as big of an event for Tucson as Oklahoma City [bombing was] for Oklahoma. It was a huge event, it impacted so many people.”

The memorial will be built in downtown Tucson regardless of what happens to the bill. The bill is just to give it national recognition. Kret said the foundation expects to break ground this year and have it completed next year.