News / USA

Shaken Lawmakers Gather on Capitol Steps After Arizona Shooting

Members of Congress and staff members observe a moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and other shooting victims, Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, on the East Steps of the Capitol in Washington
Members of Congress and staff members observe a moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and other shooting victims, Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, on the East Steps of the Capitol in Washington
Cindy Saine

A number of lawmakers and as many as 500 congressional staff members gathered on the east front steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday to hold a moment of silence for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and all of the other victims of Saturday’s shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that left 6 people dead.  Giffords is still in critical condition and the suspected gunman appeared in court Monday afternoon.

The House members who have returned to Capitol Hill appear shaken and unsure what actions to take to respond to the attempted assassination of their colleague.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also observed a moment of silence at the White House Monday, as did Americans across the country.  Afterwards, Mr. Obama talked to reporters alongside visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"The main thing we are doing is to offer our thought and prayers to those who have been impacted, making sure that we are joining together and pulling together as a country.  And as president of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I am spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them,” he said.

One of the six people killed was a nine-year-old girl.  The president also praised those bystanders at the scene who took quick action to tackle the gunman and to take away his ammunition as he tried to reload.

On the steps of the Capitol, Representative Emmanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri and a pastor, followed the moment of silence by leading an interdenominational prayer for all those killed and wounded in the attack, for the spirit of the United States and for the safety of all lawmakers.

"Help us move from this dark place to a place of sunshine and hope. Bless these God, your servants who serve this nation and keep them safe,” he said.

Republican Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he was glad the Republican leadership had suspended normal House business for one week.

"I think it was appropriate to take a step back and not be in session for what was going to be a shortened week anyway because of the Republican retreat,” he said.

But Upton told a reporter he does not believe it is necessary for Congress to take additional steps that would further restrict gun ownership.

The House had originally been set to hold a contentious vote on Wednesday to repeal President Obama’s sweeping health care reform legislation, before Republican members head to Baltimore, Maryland for a previously scheduled retreat.

Some Democratic lawmakers are floating ideas for new legislation once business resumes on Capitol Hill.  Democratic Representative Robert Brady of Pennsylvania says he would like to expand current legislation that put restrictions on images and words that threaten the president to include words and images that threaten members of Congress. Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York wants to introduce gun control legislation.

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from Washington, D.C. said it is highly unlikely that the new Republican-controlled House will pass tougher gun control laws.  But she says she is still not afraid and will continue to go out and meet with her constituents face to face.

"There is no practical way to change what we do.  The reason we are elected every two years is that the framers [authors of the Constitution] meant us to get as close to the people as possible, for them to judge us.  One way they will judge us is if they see us fleeing from them, because they will think we are afraid of them,” she said.

Rank and file House members currently do not have any security guards.

New House Speaker John Boehner says there will be no recorded votes on the floor of the House this week, though there will be a resolution introduced on Wednesday to honor the victims of the Tuscon massacre. Also on Wednesday, House members will receive a major security briefing involving the Capitol Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Related video by Chris Simkins:

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs