Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Thursday urged congressional Republicans to “have some courage” and hold town halls, after Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert referenced her shooting in his explanation for not holding one.
In a letter to his constituents who had requested a town hall meeting with him, Gohmert referred to “groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety.”
While noting that “threats are nothing new to me,” Gohmert said the House Sergeant at Arms advised members after Giffords was shot during a constituent meeting in a supermarket parking lot in 2011 “that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed — just as happened there.”
“One Congressional friend had one of his district staff members knocked unconscious and hospitalized this past week after being overrun by a group intent on physical confrontation and disruption,” Gohmert added.
Giffords, a Democrat, did not seem to find the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting that saw six people die and 13, including herself and former Rep. Ron Barber grievously injured, an adequate excuse to avoid holding town halls. In a statement, she called constituent meetings “a hallmark” of her time in Congress and that members of Congress shouldn’t hide from the public.
“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public,” she said. “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.”
Since leaving Congress and becoming a public advocate for gun control, Giffords has continued to appear at public events — more than 50 in the past year alone.
“To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage,” Giffords said. “Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”
Republicans who have held town halls have been bombarded with concerned constituents asking questions about their plans to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, as well as questions about oversight of the Trump administration.