'Gabby would trade her own life to bring back any one of those you savagely murdered'
Gabrielle Giffords during the final day of the Democratic National Convention
November 8th, 2012
01:35 PM ET

'Gabby would trade her own life to bring back any one of those you savagely murdered'

Editor's note: Jared Loughner, the Arizona man who pleaded guilty to the January 2011 attempted assassination of then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will be sentenced Thursday. The shooting at a meet-and-greet in Tucson killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords. Her husband, Mark Kelly, will speak on her behalf at the sentencing. Below is his statement in full.

Mr. Loughner, for the first and last time, you are going to hear directly from Gabby and me about what you took away on January 8th, 2011 and, just as important, what you did not. So pay attention.

That bright and chilly Saturday morning, you killed six innocent people. Daughters and sons. Mothers and fathers. Grandparents and friends. They were devoted to their families, their communities, their places of worship.

Gabby would trade her own life to bring back any one of those you savagely murdered on that day. Especially young Christina-Taylor Green, whose high-minded ideas about service and democracy deserved a full life committed to advancing them. Especially 30-year old Gabe Zimmerman, whom Gabby knew well and cherished, and whose love for his family and his fiancee and service to his country were as deep as his loss is tragic. Especially Judge John Roll whom Gabby was honored to call a colleague and friend and from whose interminable dedication to our community and country she gained enormous inspiration. Gabby would give anything to take away the grief you visited upon the Morrises, the Schnecks, and the Stoddards – anything to heal the bodies and psyches of your other victims.

And then there is what you took from Gabby. Her life has been forever changed. Plans she had for our family and her career have been immeasurably altered. Every day is a continuous struggle to do those things she was once so very good at. Gabby is a people person: she exudes kindness, creativity, and compassion. If she were not born with the name – “Gabby” – someone would have given it to her. Now she struggles to deliver each and every sentence. Her gift for language can now only be seen in Internet videos from a more innocent time.

Gabby was an outdoor enthusiast. She was often seen rollerblading with her friend Raoul in Reed Park, hiking in Sabino Canyon, or careening down Rillito Wash Trail on her bike, as she was the night before you tried and failed to murder her. She hasn't been to any of those places since, and I don't know when she’ll return.

There’s more. Gabby struggles to walk. Her right arm is paralyzed. She is partially blind. Gabby works harder in one minute of an hour – fighting to make each individual moment count for something – than most of us work in an entire day.

Mr. Loughner, by making death and producing tragedy, you sought to extinguish the beauty of life. To diminish potential. To strain love. And to cancel ideas. You tried to create for all of us a world as dark
 and evil as your own.

 But know this, and remember it always: You failed.

Your decision to commit cold-blooded mass murder also begs of us to look in the mirror. This horrific act warns us to hold our leaders and ourselves responsible for coming up short when we do, for not having the courage to act when it’s hard, even for possessing the wrong values.

We are a people who can watch a young man like you spiral into murderous rampage without choosing to intervene before it is too late.

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.

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.” 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: encourage economic growth, help our returning veterans and fix our education system.

The challenges we face are so great, but the leadership in place is so often lacking. In so many moments, I find myself thinking, “We need Gabby.” In letter after letter, I’ve seen that others agree. As Americans mourned the six who died, they also mourned the loss of a representative who embodied the service they realized they should expect from those they elect, the type of person our county desperately needs to provide leadership and solve problems. Gabby was a courageous member of congress. Willing to stand up to the establishment when the establishment was wrong. She was thirsty for partnership across the aisle and was an unrelenting champion for her 600,000 constituents. One of which was you.

There’s something else Gabby and I have been spending a lot of time thinking about. The way we conduct politics must change. Sure it’s easier to win a debate if you can turn your opponent into a demon, but that’s not how we move forward. Not only does slash and burn politics make Americans cynical about their leaders, but it leads to bad ideas. It creates problems instead of solving the ones we have now.

Even amid all that was lost, Gabby and I give thanks for her life, her spirit, and her intellect, which are a continued force in this world despite what you’ve done. We exalt in sharing our lives with each other and with our family and friends.

As a city, Tucson has grown stronger. We love this community, and we love our neighbors. We are resilient, and the dynamism and compassion of our fellow Tucsonans will continue to push this city forward.

And there is what persists in Gabby: her love for this city, this state and this country. Her commitment to lifting us all up, and her ability to lead. Mr. Loughner, you may have put a bullet through her head, but you haven’t put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place.

Mr. Loughner, pay close attention to this: Though you are mentally ill, you are responsible for the death and hurt you inflicted upon all of us on January 8th of last year. You know this. Gabby and I know this.

 Everyone in this courtroom knows this.

You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did. But after today. After this moment. Here and now. Gabby and I are done thinking about you.

soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. yari

    Hear! Hear! Powerful and important words!

    November 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BaTmAn858

      Concur.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Betty Braastad

    As unfortunate as it is that the statement had to be made it was eloquently 'put' and concise in its content.

    May God continue to bles Mark and Gabby.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Cindi Welch

    Absolutely magnificent!! Perhaps Mr. Kelly should consider running for office!
    Love & prayers to him & Gabby.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. after39years

    Beautifully written.... I'm crying for the lives lost and the talent wasted.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JEANNIE

      i am also but someday we will all be together and made whole

      November 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JEANNIE

    what a man mark is–the 2 things that the killer did not take away was her life and their love–their life is different but God will take of them forever!!!!! i have so mch respect for them–blessings to you both–gabby and mark!!!!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. M

    I think about this every day. Together we thrive, Tucson.

    CNN, please spell my city's name correctly. Thank you.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jill

    Beautifully stated! I hope Mr. Kelly will consider running for office. We must stop the massacres and legislate responsible gun laws!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Etiz

    That's all you can come up with? Come on, there's a lot of emotion in the courtroom today. If you can't appreciate that with at least an acknowledgement, then I don't know what you're doing here at all.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • dicerotops

      That has to be one of the most horrible things I've ever read on any board. Republican or Democrat – they are our elected representatives, and they are people who deserve to live.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pinche Daveed

      It would be irresponsible of CNN not to have this "mc" guy investigated, this is truely the response of a very deranged person, maybe the next Jared L.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lindylou123

    Thank you Mr. Kelly – your words are so true and if only we would listen to you, over and over again, we would get rid of those in office who make idiotic ideology, like guns in bars, their crusades.
    God bless you and Gabby – we need people like you in places of power so pray that Gabby can return.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mariahwwa

      Did I miss out on something? Guns in bars? I have a C&C and have had since the day it passed after I testified before the Senate TWICE to get it passed – Missouri.

      We are not allowed to have our C&C in any liquor establishment, government facility, church, or courtroom. So, just what state are you referring to about guns in bars? I'm lost.

      And, bottom line, bars are notoriously violent places with or without guns....so your point is?

      November 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • xnothinbutthetruth

      "bars are notoriously violent places"

      Yeah, so might as well throw guns in the mix? Failure of logic you got going on there.

      As far as you missing something... yes, you did. Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia and Ohio have all either tried to pass or passed legislation allowing guns in bars.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      To XO again. No guns should be in bars. But I reserve the right to keep one in my car....just in case. I'll pit my logic against yours any day.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hi I'm Richard

    I'm from Arizona, and what happened is a tragedy. I wish the guy would burn for it on this world and the next. That being said, I think it's somewhat disappointing that Rep. Giffords' husband felt the need to make a large point of his statement about politics instead of keeping his eye on the sole reason for this happening: a single deranged man's evil that went unchecked by the people who's job it is to do so.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mariahwwa

      I'm sure it was a plea deal. He should have gotten the same punishment as McVey. And at the risk of appearing shallow, it's psychos like this that hurt the rest of us law abiding gun owners. I have no problem dealing with these people harshly. They hurt everyone....their victims, victims families, THEIR OWN families, and the rest of us as well, because then we have to deal with people taking their behaviors and running with them to make outrageous claims.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • mc

      Yeah god forbid anybody mention the politics that occurred after her shooting, or that Gabby had a perfect voting record with the NRA...reap what you sow!

      November 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • xnothinbutthetruth

      It wasn't a "single deranged man" that caused this... on that you are completely dead wrong.

      It was a single deranged man with a gun – with an extended magazine clip. If he didn't have that he sure as he11 couldn't have mowed down all those people. And since that's the case it's an important subject.. because we can have deranged people all over the place (and I'd say we do..) and they would have a very, very difficult time managing to kill a room full of people without access to GUNS. That's about the only way to do it... except for maybe improvised explosives.. but the average nitwit doesn't know how to get those – but GUNS on the otherhand... heck you can get em at walmart.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Eric

    Get a life.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Aubrie

    Superb. It was succint and is also what is in the minds of many an American.. Especially after these recent elections. He dared to say what many won't say. I applaud him and his wife for continuing to stand up for what they beleive in, even in the face of adversity.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. hieran

    THAT is what you got out of this statement? Seriously?

    November 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. IndyMike

    Eloquent and powerful...This is how it should be in every courtroom across the USA. The victims, should they desire to do so, need to be heard and those who can not speak for themselves need to have a compassionate advocate to do so. Bravo, Mr. Kelly!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mc

      Silly you, gabby spent her career fighting for looser gun laws and the only reason a "victim" got to speak is because the "victim" was in the ruling class. Anybody else gets shot in AZ, its their fault for standing in the way of somebodies 2nd amendment rights.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jrsmcs428

    These words were obviously straight from the heart, and eloquently stated, to say the least. I agree with Cindi – perhaps Mark should consider running for office himself – his and Gabby's ideals and goals are to be commended. May God bless you both on your continued journey, and may God bless ALL those that were affected so horrendously by such unfathomable evil and hatred.....

    November 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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