Gun Control · Gun Violence

Gun shop blocks Mark Kelly’s right to buy AR-15, citing political ‘intent’

Official NASA photo of Kelly

Mark Kelly is married to  former AZ Congress woman Gabby Giffords.  He is an accomplished man in his own right and he is a responsible gun owner.

Naval career        NASA career

The Raw Story

The owner of a gun shop in Tucson, Arizona on Monday refused to hand over an AR-15 military-style rifle that Mark Kelly purchased in order to demonstrate how easy it was to obtain assault weapons.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Diamondback Police Supply owner Doug MacKinlay said that he was blocking the former astronaut’s Second Amendment right because he questioned the political “intent” behind the purchase.

“While I support and respect Mark Kelly’s 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible manner, his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm rifle from us was for reasons other then for his personal use,” MacKinlay wrote.

Kelly, who is the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), said that he had purchased the rifle to show how easy it was to pass a background check. The effort was part of his push for more gun control in response to his wife’s shooting and other recent mass shootings.

A weapon similar to the Sig Sauer M400 was used last year to gun down 20 elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut.

MacKinlay promised to refund all of Kelly’s money and raffle the weapon off to support the Arizona Tactical Officers Association.

Gun Violence

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Opening Statement (C-SPAN)

Gabby Gifford’s compelling statement in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on gun violence, today:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords Returns To Congress To Vote On Debt Ceiling Deal (PHOTO)

When I saw Mrs. Giffords on my television screen inside the House chambers, I was delighted!  I’m not sure how many people knew she would be there to vote, but it was a very pleasant surprise to a very unpleasant “compromise” procedure…

Huffington Post

Seven months after she was shot in the head by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made a surprise and emotional return to the House floor on Monday, casting a vote in favor of a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

Giffords entered the chamber to sustained, standing applause, shaking hands with colleagues whom she had not seen since that January day. Her vote, a sideshow to the far more important and compelling personal drama, was in favor of the bill, which passed through the chamber by a margin of 269 to 161.

“I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington,” Giffords said, in a statement from her office. “After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge. I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.”

Giffords’ office tweeted word of her return to Washington after the vote had begun. And as she showed up on the floor — smiling and with her hair cut short — the attention of lawmakers drifted from the vote tally to her presence. Her office, in a statement, noted that in December 2009 and again in February 2010, she had objected to raising the nation’s debt limit. This vote, the statement added, “was substantially different, with the strength of the U.S. economy hanging in the balance.”

After the vote was cast, Giffords received multiple additional rounds of applause, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) called her “the personification of courage.”

“Her presence here in the chamber as well as her service throughout her career in Congress, brings honor to this chamber,” Pelosi said. “Thank you, Gabby.”

Below, a picture of the congresswoman on Capitol Hill from HuffPost’s Jen Bendery:

Related articles

Gabrielle Giffords' Progress

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.”

White House

Obama Receives Bipartisan Standing Ovation From Congressional Leaders

What a rare and welcomed moment  for me, witnessing congressional guests at a pre-scheduled bi-partisan congressional dinner at the White House, give President Obama a standing ovation when he welcomed them to the White House.


At a dinner in the East Room of the White House tonight, President Obama broke from his expected remarks (the dinner was scheduled weeks ago) to mention the dramatic U.S. raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. As the president began speaking of the mission, he was interrupted by a sustained standing ovation (and a few whistles) from the Democratic and Republican members of Congress and their spouses who had been invited to the dinner (as luck would have it, in an effort to encourage bipartisanship).

“I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11,” said the president. Mr. Obama said he wanted to credit “the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission” and to members of Congress who have supported both the military and intelligence officials who made the raid possible.

The president said the capture and killing of bin Laden, like the shootings in Tucson and the deadly storms that swept the South, pull us together as “an American family.”

Watch it here, from Fox News:

Gabrielle Giffords' Progress

What’s Really Going On With Gabby Giffords?

The Daily Beast

Three months after the Arizona attack that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a coma, she is walking, talking, and wants to attend her husband’s space shuttle launch. But will she ever fully recover? In this week’s Newsweek, Peter J. Boyer tells the untold story of the congresswoman’s struggle.

The scheduled launch this month of the space shuttle Endeavour has aroused public interest at a level not seen since NASA’s glory days—not because of the mission itself, but because of one potential spectator at the Florida liftoff. Since the Jan. 8 shooting spree in Tucson that killed six people and gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, it has been the goal of her family and doctors that she attend the launch of the Endeavour, commanded by her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly. For Gabby (as she is now known by all), it would be a symbolic moment of triumph. For the country and the world, waiting expectantly and hopefully, it would be the first glimpse of the convalescent who has become America’s Congresswoman.

Over these last months, Giffords’s difficult path to recovery became that rarest thing: an ongoing good-news story that the public devoured and the media were happy to provide. From the start, details of her actual condition were scant, but her family and staff, colleagues and friends provided enough fresh tidbits to feed the news cycle. The first big news was delivered by the president himself—”Gabby opened her eyes for the first time,” Obama announced at a Tucson memorial service, which had the feel of a pep rally—and in the weeks that followed, stunningly good news came forth from Tucson in a steady flow. Giffords touched her husband’s face and reached up to give him a neck massage. She spoke her first word, asking for “toast” for breakfast. She was reading get-well cards and scrolling through her iPad. She was able to stand and was even taking a few steps.

Dr. Peter Rhee, the trauma surgeon in Tucson who early on announced that “she has a 101 percent chance of surviving,” determined in February that Giffords was ready to be transferred to the Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston. Her new neurosurgeon there said she “looked spectacular,” and soon, after she moved to The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, came word that Giffords was conversing and even singing.

One effect of all of this good news was to dampen overt speculation about Giffords’s political viability. In March her Washington friends held a political fundraiser for her, fetching about $125,000 in pledges to support her 2012 reelection campaign. The New York Times reported that the Giffords team was actively advancing the prospect of a run for departing Republican Jon Kyl’s U.S. Senate seat. One of Giffords’ Democratic House colleagues, Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada, visited Giffords in Houston and emerged to say that she was eager to return to the House. “She’s raising money now,” Berkley told a Las Vegas television reporter. “She’s running a campaign from the hospital.” Earlier this month Daniel Hernandez, the young Giffords intern who rushed to her side after the shooting and accompanied her to the hospital, told the Arizona press that he’d had several telephone conversations with his boss, some of them “lengthy.”

Continue reading…

Gabrielle Giffords' Progress

Daniel Hernandez, Gabrielle Giffords’ Intern, Says He’s Talked To Congresswoman

This is excellent news for AZ Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her family…

Huffington Post

The man who won praise for going to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords aid immediately after she was shot says he has spoken to the injured congresswoman several times on the phone and is amazed by her recovery.

Daniel Hernandez tells the Arizona Republic that their most recent conversation was Wednesday.

He says the calls have included “short interactions and long interactions” but declined to be more specific out of respect for her privacy.

Giffords was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head 12 weeks ago during a shooting rampage in Tucson. Six people died and 12 other people were wounded.

Her doctors say she is making significant advances in speech, motor skills and life skills.

Related Articles

Federal Courts · Obama's Judicial Nominees

Federal judicial vacancies reaching crisis point

The trial run of Open for Questions in the Whi...
Image via Wikipedia

The Washington Post

Federal judges have been retiring at a rate of one per week this year, driving up vacancies that have nearly doubled since President Obama took office. The departures are increasing workloads dramatically and delaying trials in some of the nation’s federal courts.

The crisis is most acute along the southwestern border, where immigration and drug cases have overwhelmed court officials. Arizona recently declared a judicial emergency, extending the deadline to put defendants on trial. The three judges in Tucson, the site of last month’s shooting rampage, are handling about 1,200 criminal cases apiece.

“It’s a dire situation,” said Roslyn O. Silver, the state’s chief judge.

In central Illinois, three of the four judgeships remain vacant after two of President Obama’s nominees did not get a vote on the Senate floor.

Chief Judge Michael McCuskey said he is commuting 90 miles between Urbana and Springfield and relying on two 81-year-old “senior” judges to fill the gap. “I had a heart attack six years ago, and my cardiologist told me recently, ‘You need to reduce your stress,’ ” he said. “I told him only the U.S. Senate can reduce my stress.”

Since Obama took office, federal judicial vacancies have risen steadily as dozens of judges have left without being replaced by the president’s nominees. Experts blame Republican delaying tactics, slow White House nominations and a dysfunctional Senate confirmation system. Six judges have retired in the past six weeks alone.

Senate Republicans and the White House are vowing to work together to set aside the divisions that have slowed confirmations, and the Senate on Monday approved Obama nominees for judgeships in Arkansas, Oregon and Texas. Eight more nominees are expected to receive votes in the coming weeks.   More…    See Graphic here…

Sara Palinisms · Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin Standing Tall On ‘Don’t Retreat, Reload,’ Says Aide

Hmmm…”Caribou Barbie” is going to make sure that there will be no “Sarah moratorium” for the month of February, I see…

Huffington Post

Sarah Palin’s camp is pushing back against recent reports that the former vice-presidential candidate dropped her “don’t retreat, reload” slogan during her keynote speech at a gun-rights convention in Reno, Nev. over the weekend.

“The governor actually did use the phrase ‘Don’t retreat, reload,'” Palin aide Rebecca Mansour told Politico in an email. “She also said, ‘Don’t retreat, stand tall.'”

According to some reports, which the Washington Post writes stemmed from reporters listening at the door of the closed-press event, Palin used the phrase “don’t retreat, stand tall.” Some saw it as a sign that she was toning down her gun-themed rhetoric following criticism in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson that took the lives of six and wounded 12 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

President Barack Obama · President Obama · State Of The Union · State of the Union Address

State Of The Union Quotes: Best Lines From Obama’s 2011 Address


According to Huffpo and myself, these are the lines that stood out in The President’s SOTU address.  There were sixteen all together.  I copied the first six….

Huffington Post

‘Party Or Political Preference’ – “Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.”

‘What Comes Of This Moment’ – “What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.”

‘The People Who Sent Us Here’ – “That’s what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they’ve determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.”

‘The World’s Best’ – “No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.”

‘The Future Is Ours To Win’ – “The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.”

‘Sputnik Moment’ – “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Many more…