Gun Violence Victims Detained, Put Through Background Check For Yelling ‘Shame On You’ At Senators


Think Progress

“Shame on you!” Patricia Maisch and Lori Haas yelled in rapid succession at the 46 senators who had just voted to kill a compromise amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or online. The women were sitting in the gallery with a large group of gun violence victims as the Senate responded to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut by defeating the measure advocates and law enforcement officials consider crucial to keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

The pair has first-hand experience with the consequences of the broken system. In 2011, Maisch was hailed as a hero for disarming Tucson shooter Jared Loughner by preventing him from reloading a fresh magazine. Haas’ daughter Emily was shot twice during the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and survived, leading her to become a proponent of stronger gun regulations. But on Wednesday afternoon, the two women faced tighter scrutiny for interrupting a Senate proceeding than many individuals seeking to purchase guns.

As they left the Senate gallery, a police officer approached and asked them to follow him. The three walked downstairs to a public hallway, where they were peppered with questions: “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What are your Social Security numbers?” The officer left to run a background check on the women, who were instructed to sit on a bench. Another uniformed officer watched over them, even escorted Haas to the bathroom and told her she couldn’t lock the stall door.

Sitting there, waiting for the officer to return, Haas stewed over the failed vote. “I just can’t fathom that these people don’t have a heart,” she told ThinkProgress in a phone interview. “If they had seen, just one miniscule of the pain I’ve seen from the Virginia Tech families and so many other families that I’ve worked with in the last 6 years, they couldn’t help but want to do something about stoping gun violence.”

An hour and a half later, another law enforcement official approached and quizzed the the two women further. He asked them about their intentions and where they were from, why they were in D.C., how long they planned to stay and when they were leaving.

The entire ordeal stretched for almost two hours — approximately 115 minutes longer than a background check at a federal gun dealer. Haas noted the irony of undergoing hours of questioning while permitting gun purchases without any screening at gun shows or online.

“The irony is not lost on me and it’s not lost on the American public,” Haas said. “Very ironic that an hour and a half investigation into two women shouting in the Senate gallery takes place and yet real criminals and other prohibited purchasers get willy nilly access to fire arms.”

Gabrielle Giffords’ miraculous recovery: A timeline

The Week

The Arizona congresswoman has made incredible progress since being shot in the head on January 8. Here’s a concise look back at how far she’s come

In an incident that set off intense national debate, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot in the head by alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson on January 8. The bullet fired at Giffords, 40, tore through the “entire length” of her brain’s left hemisphere. Remarkably, the congresswoman not only survived, but continues to make unpredictably swift progress in her rehabilitation, defying fears that she might not speak again. Here, a chronological guide to the major milestones in her recovery:

January 8
After the shooting, Giffords is taken to Tucson’s University Medical Center, where Dr. Randall Friese is the first to treat her. Giffords responds to the doctor’s command to squeeze his hand. Dr. Michael Lemole operated on her, removing a portion of her skull to accommodate the swelling caused by her injuries.

January 9
Though Giffords remains in a medically induced coma designed to let her brain heal, doctors “adjust the level of sedation” to perform tests. Neurosurgeons say Giffords can respond to a verbal command to show two fingers, indicating that she is not paralyzed and that the portion of her brain responsible for processing such instructions is intact.

January 11
Giffords can move her arms and breathe on her own, though she still has a breathing tube “as a precaution.” Dr. Peter Rhee, the trauma surgeon responsible for Giffords’ care in the ICU, says she has a “101 percent chance of survival.” He adds: “She will not die. She does not have that permission from me.”

January 12
At a memorial service in Tucson for victims of the shootings, President Obama notes that Giffords had opened her eyes that day. After doctors reduce her level of sedation, she is also making “spontaneous movements,” such as feeling her wounds and adjusting her hospital gown.

January 15
Doctors perform two more operations on Giffords: A tracheotomy to place a breathing tube in her neck and surgery to remove bone fragments and relieve pressure from fractures in her right eye socket.

January 16
After the congresswoman is taken off a ventilator, her condition is upgraded from “critical” to “serious.”

January 19
A hospital spokesperson says Giffords is able to stand with help from medical staff.

January 21
The congresswoman is transferred from Tucson to the Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center Hospital in Houston.

January 24
Doctors remove a tube used to drain excess fluid from Giffords’ brain.

January 26
Giffords is moved to the TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation facility. With her recovery progressing at “lightning speed,” doctors upgrade Giffords’ status from “serious” to “good.”

February 9
Giffords is speaking “more and more,” her spokesperson says, and recently asked for toast for breakfast. “Gabby’s appetite is back,” her husband, Mark Kelly, writes in a post on the congresswoman’s Facebook page, adding that “even though it’s hospital food — she’s enjoying three meals a day.”

February 14
Giffords is walking with the help of a shopping cart, playing tic-tac-toe, and and mouthing the words to songs, the congresswoman’s mother wrote in an email to friends obtained by the Houston Chronicle. “As you may expect, little Miss overachiever is healing very fast,” Gloria Giffords wrote.

April 11
Giffords continues to improve, says Peter J. Boyer in Newsweek, but “a more measured assessment of her progress is warranted.” In the early weeks of her recovery, Giffords apparently thought she had been involved in a car accident, but her husband recently told her that she had actualy been shot, according to Boyer. The congresswoman still struggles to speak, and is just beginning to formulate whole sentences. But her personality is intact. “When we say her personality is there, I mean, she’s like 100 percent there,” says Giffords’ Chief of Staff Pia Carusone, as quoted in Newsweek.

April 24
Giffords can stand on her own and walk a little, according to The Arizona Republic. Her left side is functioning normally — it’s “perfect,” says Pia Carusone, the congresswoman’s legislative chief of staff — and she is now left-handed. But Giffords has also begun to use her right arm and leg, which were more affected by the bullet wound to the left side of her brain. Her therapy includes pushing a grocery cart up and down hospital hallways, as well as games of bowling and indoor golf. Doctors say she is in the top five percent of patients recovering from this type of traumatic brain injury. Still, Giffords’ speech remains limited, and longer sentences can “frustrate” her, so she typically communicates with short statements like “love you,” “awesome” or “get out.” But she has made enough progress to be able to attend her husband’s space shuttle launch on Friday, Kelly says in an interview with CBS.

May 18
Giffords undergoes surgery to repair damage to her cranium and to insert a permanent tube to drain fluid from her head. Doctors had saved the portion of Giffords’ skull that they removed months earlier, but they opted to use a ceramic substitute instead. They say new bone will form in the porous ceramic over time. The operation means that Giffords will no longer have to wear a helmet to protect her brain during physical therapy. “She hates the helmet,” says Pia Carusone, her chief of staff, as quoted by Tucson Weekly. “So it was an exciting week for her. She’s been looking forward to this for awhile.” Husband Mark Kelly got reports about the surgery in space, where he is commanding the space shuttle Endeavour after its delayed liftoff.

June 3
Giffords’ ability to walk, though not quite back to normal, is “much improved,” says C.J. Karamargin, her communications director, as quoted by The Arizona Republic. “She walks with determination.” The congresswoman is also able to ride a bike with support wheels down the hospital hall. “She’s ready to become an outpatient,” says husband Mark Kelly, just after reuniting with Giffords after he returned from his space mission. “She’s made that very clear.”

June 9
Giffords is still struggling to communicate in complete sentences. The congresswoman relies on a combination of gesturing, facial expressions, and short phrases to express what she wants or needs. Turning complex thoughts into words is “where she’s had trouble,” says Pia Carusone, her chief of staff, as quoted by The Arizona Republic. It’s still unclear just how much damage has been done to Giffords’ brain. An MRI is the best way to get a clear picture, but the shards of bullets that are almost certainly still in her head make the magnetic test too risky. The “blunt assessment” of her current condition, according to Carusone, is that “if she were to plateau today,” Giffords would not have “nearly the quality of life she had before.”

June 12
The first photo of Giffords is posted on Facebook by her staff. The Arizona Democrat’s hair is cropped, and she looks “vibrant and happy,” despite the long rehabilitation road that lays ahead.

June 15
Giffords is discharged from the Houston hospital where she had undergone several months of rehabilitation. She will return to her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and family in League City, Texas, where she will begin daily outpatient treatment. The hospital’s chief medical officer expressed confidence in Giffords’ continued improvement, saying there is no doubt she will make “significant strides in her recovery.”

Haunting New Giffords Photo

The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet

49 Charges in Giffords Case

Staffers of wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords released a never-before-seen photo on Giffords’ Facebook page today depicting her just moments before being shot in the head. The photo shows Giffords doing what “she loves to do; talk to her constituents,” her staff said. In the picture, the Representative—who has lately shown rapid signs of a rapid recovery, including walking and talking, but still has a long way to go, doctors say—is talking to Jim and Doris Tucker outside the Tucson Safeway where she was attacked. On the same day, her alleged shooter Jared Loughner was indicted on 49 new counts by a federal grand jury.

Gaddafi’s Most Brutal Attack Yet

Is Libya locked in a bloody stalemate? Leader Muammar Gaddafi launched one of his most brutal attacks yet on Friday, attempting to maintain his grip on Tripoli and surrounding areas in what some rebels called a “bloodbath.” Meanwhile, the country’s Internet was completely shut down yesterday, new reports show. In the U.S., President Obama is receiving three briefings per day on the situation, the White House said, and is “appalled” at what he hears.   At least 37 people died on Friday night’s fighting alone and rebels say the number is closer to 50.

Read it at The Washington Post 

Wisconsin Democrat Tackled While Trying To Enter Capitol

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker upped the ante in his state’s tense union standoff on Friday night, issuing layoff warning notices to 13 unions. The notices “may be able to be rescinded,” Walker said, if the state’s Senate Democrats, who fled Wisconsin in protest, return. Meanwhile, a Democratic Assembly member was tackled by Capitol police Thursday night when he tried to enter the building, which had been closed to the public after weeks of protests. The Assembly member, Nick Milroy, called the situation at the Capitol an “armed-palace environment,” and said the guard knocked him to the ground before he was able to produce his identification card. Police closed the building Thursday night after a judge banned protesters from staying past business hours.