'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. Brandy

    Why does he get to live? The people he killed can't!!!!!! he gets to eat,sleep, computers,reading,tv,education ect he even decided a little girl couldn't live, never to play with her fiends again, finish school,college or marry, never be a mom........

    November 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Valarie

    Abdulla: Unbelievable! That's all you came away with out of that beautiful speech on behalf of Mr. Kelly's wife Gabby?
    A misspelled word?

    November 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MEB

    If we got rid of guns in this country, all of those lives would have been spared.
    If we paid more attention to mental illness and this young man had access to therapy and medications, he might have possibly not wanted to commit this horrific crime.
    He does not deserve to die, he deserved for his country to respect mental illness and treat it, and the system failed him – and in turn has failed all of us.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      Not true. Would have found another method to do it OR get illegal guns. Wake up and smell the roses. Psychos and criminals will always have access to guns. Gun control is not the answer. Enforcing already on the books laws is the answer. You will never take my guns. And 99% of gun owners will tell you the same thing. Want a civil war? Take the 2nd amendment and its on the way.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      @mariahwwa: so you're ready to shoot people to keep your guns? Sick.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      to Dan: Are you ready to let your rights be taken away? Any of them? That's what Hitler did. My family comes first. Period. I live on a farm, I'm a scoutmaster, and I show horses. Places I go cannot be protected by the police. Even if I could get a signal on a phone, they couldn't get there before it's too late. Last time I called 911 to come get my dad, having a heart attack....took them 45 minutes to get there! And we are only 5 miles from town! What if that had been someone trying to kill my family?

      Some people are just so protected they don't look at reality. I will protect my family to the end. You can be one of those in the kill centers, not me.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • xnothinbutthetruth

      mariahwwa

      All your guns do is dramatically increase the odds you or your family will be shot.

      That's it.

      I'm sure they appreciate you endangering them.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ted Baxter

    Mark does not overstate Gabby's potential. She was on a short list of women who have the courage, grace, work ethic, and charisma to have been the first female President of the United States.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kent

    Calm down kids. You sound like LImbagh and Trump when you lose you cool.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Carol Brown

    To mark Kelly & Gabby Giffords: God Bless you for what you said in court today. Maybe the politicans will start listening to us if people start asking for change like you just did. God Speed!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anders Behring Breivik (King of the Island)

      So....ur DOG blessed them but not the other ones who didn't make it. Why is that?

      November 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John

    Yep that's right blame it on the gun laws. Even if you Democrats had your way and took all the guns away, criminals would still get them. Typical Democrat using any public forum to spread their socialist agenda..

    November 8, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Hey! Guess what! You lost again in 2012.

      Better get used to it...

      November 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jurby

      and you're obviously a typical Republican who thinks the world revolves around YOU and everything YOU want and think.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      ok, not the best way to get your point across on a liberal website. We lost, but it wasn't a landslide. And I wasn't a conservative until the last few years. Obama made me a conservative. We lost because of foot in mouth disease. The other side suffered that, too.

      And just so you know. I think Obama and Romney BOTH sucked. It was a matter of the 'lesser of two evils'. All politicians, as far as I'm concerned, lie, cheat and steal all their way to the top. One says this, the other says that. Where is the truth? Nobody knows.

      All presidents AND their children have been fodder for talk shows, comedies, news media, etc. UNTIL Obama – hands off – you're a racist if you do, yet his wife wrote consistently racist comments, and their preacher was BEYOND racist. Media conveniently ignores all of it.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • meanperson

      John, "gun laws" and "erradicating gun ownership" are differerent things, the former of which is worthy of discussion.
      -signed, a guy with a lot of guns.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      John: the problem IS gun laws. We require EVERYONE to register a purchase of car - even if the sale is between private parties. How would it hurt us if we did the same for guns? REQUIRE all sales to be contingent on a background check. That won't block ANY enthusiasts, but it will make it much *harder* for crazy people to get guns... and if cops stop someone with an unregistered gun (or an unchecked owner) they can do a check on the spot.

      The only people hurt by this are people who use gun sales as undeclared, untaxed income. I don't feel sorry for them - especially if it makes it harder for mass murderers to get guns. Will it make it impossible? Of course not - but it will make it much harder... and that makes it a good step.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name s kel

      Im liberal, im a Democrat, I voted for the best man in the White House now, Pres. Obama and im a multible weapons owner who likes to go to the range a lot. I also would shoot a criminal harming my family......I also think of most right wingers as criminals. Think on that.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goodbye Mittens

      You sound like just another common paranoid right wingnut. Keep yacking..no one is listening to your static.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name s kel

      mariha you became consertive because your still showing signs of "foot in mouth" disease. Now your saying the First Lady, Michell Obama was ranting racist remarks in the media and the powers in charge supressed it??? Ok blind ,deaf ,and dumb lady allll the RACIST,DISRESPECTFUL JUNK said about this persident and his family and your demented way of thinking wrote what you wrote?? Yeah your still sick, thank goodness of the universal health plan! Take advantage of it.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      @John: This really isn't the forum for that type of remark. Deepest, darkest shame on you. He didn't say anything about taking your freaking guns away. He alluded to the fact that had the magazine been smaller, maybe 19 people wouldn't have been shot. He's right. It's sick that you'd even contest that. You're very unAmerican.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOB RENNER

      AS A DEMOCRAT AND GUN OWNER I REFUTE YOUR BS! GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE! GIVE EVERYONE A GUN AND THERE WILL BE LESS VIOLENCE!

      November 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      To name s kel: Wow, you really are sick. Do you read? Read her books! Listen to their preacher! OMG, no president deserves to be slobbered over like you and the ridiculous far left are doing, anymore than the ridiculous rhetoric from the far right! This president is no better and no worse than any other. Your defense of him is unbelievable. Are you his unclaimed son or something? WOW! Where's his records? Won't release them. Other politicians have been FORCED to release theirs. Sorry, the favoritism toward this one is beyond belief. And I'm not racist, I would have voted for Colin Powell....so there goes YOUR theory, you sicko.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      I guess you think its okay if mentally ill people can buy guns.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WestLA

    Wow! Never had a doubt that such a role model and leader like Mark & talented, bright and beautiful person such as Gabby would not be able to deliver such an impactful speech. What a tremendous waste of life and beauty, all at the hands of a dark and lonely fool. Life Rolls On, but not for the monster that caused this enormous tragedy.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jurby

    schizophrenia is no excuse for murdering 6 people!

    November 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MommaM

    "To mark Kelly & Gabby Giffords: God Bless you for what you said in court today. Maybe the politicans will start listening to us if people start asking for change like you just did. God Speed!"

    Could not have said it better.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. IronMike

    I hope he fries. His schizophrenia will be cured right away.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. How do you prevent crime? Expand the death penalty and get guns off the streets. I think that is a pretty bipartisan solution.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vicki B.

    Jan Brewer,

    Get out of politics, b/c you obviously DON'T belong there.
    Politics is about people, and you CLEARLY don't care about people.
    So what you think you're doing making laws that will govern people is way beyond MY ability to understand.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Robear in Ojai

    Powerful words.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RCCA

    I believe Mark Kelly slightly missed the mark here with his emphasis on gun laws as the solution to this problem. He failed to fully acknowledge the role mental illness played in this horrific tragedy and our need to do more to lessen the stigma so troubled people will seek help instead of acting out violently. Europe has strict guns laws but also much higher suicide rates. Most people have guns not to use against anyone, but to have a sense of self sufficiency and self defense. That's a fundamental need which we should not diminish.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Back in Reagan's presidency we gutted the country's mental health programs. Since then our country has had an abysmal record of helping/treating people whose illness is in the brain or mind.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      What else was he supposed to say? He hit the nail on the head. If you had read it, he said basically that there's no need for a gun that will allow someone to fire 19 rounds. And he's right.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      To Jay: Point is he didn't need to say ANYTHING about that issue! This should have been about what this horrible person did to his wife and so many others. The how and why does not dilute what happened. That is for another time, another discussion. But NOW it IS the discussion, .....unfortunately....and I'm one of the guilty parties keeping it going as many are on both sides. It just made it appear that he used his public voice to cover TWO issues – his pain – and absolutely NO ONE IS DOWNPLAYING that, AND his agenda. It just wasn't necessary.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • xnothinbutthetruth

      mariahwwa – When WOULD be the time to discuss it? He's discussing a tragedy and that is what caused it. He has a public stage for a moment – his statement says that politicians and people in general are scared to discuss gun laws because the whole country flips out on you when you do, they suddenly freak and think you're going to take their guns away.

      And guess what? He was right... cause here we are in this comment section doing JUST THAT. People like you saying that gun laws aren't relevant to a mass shooting!! Think about the ridiculousness dodging going on there... I'll say it again.. – you are claiming that gun laws are not relevant to a mass shooting... and that somehow this is Mark's "agenda". Hell ya it's his "agenda" – cause his wife was shot in the head! That tends to make it part of your agenda.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      To XO: I did not say it wasn't relevant. I said it was not relevant during the speech he made. That will all be taken up at a later time. McVey killed hundreds without a gun. Killers will find a way.

      And it absolutely IS the far left's plan to take our guns. YOU need to wake up. Not me. I'm awake, listening and watching. It may not be your plan, but it is the ultimate goal of the far left. Please note I said FAR left. Not the moderates. But on both sides, there are hardly any moderates. Practically every is far left or right. Listening to far left people makes me even more far right and I'm sure it goes both ways. Sometime soon we will lose the MIDDLE and all that will be left are extremists on both ends!

      November 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rens

      RCCA, please think carefully about what you just said.

      If you need to own a gun just to have a "feeling of self sufficiency" and keep from killing themselves, maybe what they really need is HELP, not guns.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. BobbyG

    God bless!

    November 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
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