One of Arizona’s darkest days was met with a reckoning today as the shooter who claimed the lives of six people and the political career of a remarkable Tucson woman entered a guilty plea for his crimes.
Jared Loughner appeared in court for a competency and change-of-plea hearing on charges stemming from the now infamous January 8, 2011 shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress In Your Corner” event. Since Loughner was found competent, a guilty plea will take the death penalty off the table in sentencing and the Southern Arizona community will be spared trial proceedings in exchange for continued healing.
Though gun violence has continued all over the U.S., the event in Tucson that Saturday morning triggered a talk of gun control that has continued with little action by lawmakers. In a move that some in gun-friendly Arizona found surprising, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed a bill allowing guns on public property in April. Her explanation was attributed to needing a larger backing of law enforcement.
Politically, many eyebrows are rising as chatter grows that Arizona will be a swing state in the 2012 elections. In the aftermath of the Tucson shooting, a special election was held in June to replace Gabrielle Giffords. Ron Barber, an aide to Giffords, won her Congressional seat for the remainder of her term. Other races across the state from sheriff to Senate are seeing competition from Democrats in formerly uncontested areas. Whomever takes office this year, and regardless of legislation passed thereafter, there is no question that the Tucson shooting was a starting point for many gun-control discussions statewide and nation-wide.