'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. mariahwwa

    I've made numerous comments to individual posters. This is to the site itself. I know this is a liberal site, but you don't deny comments from non-liberals, HOWEVER, you obviously DO limit posts that don't fit your agenda. I did not post anything that was offensive or for SURE, no more offensive than the majority of the posters on here. Why would you not want a discussion on the reason Obama won – ie: the electorate – ie: Florida? It's a fact, why hide it. There were several other posts I made that did not make it on here. Yet those I was responding to were allowed to espouse their far left opinions. If you have certain guidelines, please say so. OBviously, it isn't about calling names, because I was called names several times on here by the liberals. So, if that is one of your reasons, you are playing favorites.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Do you need a tissue

      November 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Well lets look at some of the recent incidents in criminal history... the shooting in that movie theater, VA Tech, even back to the attempted assassination of representative Giffords. Gun control has been an issue since I can remember. I think what hasn't been seen as an issue is what we do about how folks get guns that don't deserve to wield them. I say why not have whoever wants to register a gun legally have some kind of psychological evaluation to make sure there are capable of having a gun. I wouldn't ever say take away the right to own weapons. I would just say take the rights away from those that are otherwise not fit to own them.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      This it to KEN: Yep, need a tissue. I'm crying my eyes out, you know! Don't like to hear the facts? Guess not.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Faux News...please provide your readers a space to make comments and provide input. That is all.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kcoracle

    Powerful statement. It wanders into politics in a manner that is arguably inapprorpriate, or maybe even hypocritical, but in view of what this monster did, Gabby and her husband can say anything they want.

    I did like the protest against politicians trying to turn their opponent into a demon (which refreshingly I assume was directed against how Obama won re-election). It also is an issue in which Gabby could turn into an effective advocate – identifying on a non-partisan basis those who engage in such tactics. She would not need to speak. She could just give the Gabby seal of approval to candidates who do not demonize the other side.

    I especially liked the end, when he says it is the last time they will think of him. I hope that is true. God bless Gabby and her family.

    November 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • mariahwwa

      yep, loved the speech, especially the end. Just didn't think the political aspect was necessary AT THAT TIME. It's an issue and will always be an issue. Just wasn't the time and place.

      November 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    What a bunch of crap this is.. People say anything to get attention these days.. Want to be one of the 295 million heros in this country.... She did nothing more then get shot.. Why does this make someone a hero??

    November 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lolwut

    I doubt that.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. arosel

    He is a Fox News watcher.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve J

    God bless Gabby and Mark. You are so strong to come this far. God bless you....

    November 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Grace James

    Gabby for President 2016!!!!!!!!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ***

    survivors guilt. she still needs a good therapist.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Windrays

    This speech is a phenomenal and very fitting end for that psychopath; he wanted to make a mark on those who he killed and tried to kill, and it was shown that he failed.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. MC_really?

    i hope you enjoy hell, "mc".

    November 9, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. diane logan

    It is so rare for an American speak the truth regarding guns in your country. if things go as they always have Mark should be demonized by dinner.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. unowhoitsme

    They need to post all the victims' pictures (the day of the shooting) on his prison cell walls, painted, so he can't tear them off.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
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