“Have some courage,” former congresswoman Giffords tells US reps afraid to meet constituents

Giving fear the kiss-off.
Giving fear the kiss-off.
Image: Reuters/Jim Young
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Former US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords has a message for representatives avoiding town halls for fear of encountering protestors: Have some guts. Two days after she was shot and seriously injured at a public meet and greet near Tuscon, Arizona, in 2011, her offices were open to the public.

Her former colleagues, however, have been using her tragedy as an excuse to refuse to meet with their constituents. US Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas is one of several lawmakers who have canceled or declined town halls in the face of planned protests.

“Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge,” Gohmert wrote in a Feb. 21 statement to constituents. “However, the House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed—just as happened there.”

Giffords, who has since become an advocate for gun safety, says her experience shouldn’t be used to avoid protests.

“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public,” she wrote in a statement. “Ron Barber—at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead—held town halls. It’s what the people deserve in a representative.”

She continued: “To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”