The sentencing hearing for the man who shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords turned political on Thursday when her husband, Mark Kelly, attacked Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer in a statement to the court for showing “feckless” leadership on gun control – a charge Brewer quickly said she had no interest in responding to on such a “solemn occasion.”
Kelly launched the broadside at Brewer at the sentencing of Jared Loughner, who pleaded guilty to 11 charges linked to the January 2011 shooting at a Safeway in Tucson that left six people dead and Giffords with grave injuries that eventually forced her to resign from Congress. About halfway through his testimony, Kelly criticized Brewer and the rest of the country’s political class for failing to control gun violence.
“In this state we have elected officials so feckless in their leadership that they would say, as in the case of Governor Jan Brewer, ‘I don’t think it has anything to do with the size of the magazine or the caliber of the gun,’” Kelly said, according to a prepared copy of his remarks e-mailed to reporters. “She went on and said, ‘Even if the shooter’s weapon had held fewer bullets, he’d have another gun, maybe. He could have three guns in his pocket’ – she said this just one week after a high capacity magazine allowed you to kill six and wound 19 others, before being wrestled to the ground while attempting to reload. Or a state legislature that thought it appropriate to busy itself naming an official Arizona state gun just weeks after this tragedy occurred, instead of doing the work it was elected to do.”
He added, “We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced. We have representatives who look at gun violence, not as a problem to solve, but as the white elephant in the room to ignore. As a nation we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora we have done nothing.”
Brewer, a Republican, who was not at the hearing, declined to respond to Kelly’s charges.