Giffords to lawmakers avoiding town halls: 'Have some courage'

Giffords to lawmakers avoiding town halls: 'Have some courage'
© Greg Nash

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head at a constituent event six years ago, implored members of Congress to hold town halls — even if they're wary of angry constituents.

Being the victim of gun violence didn't stop her from holding public events, she said in a statement. Since stepping down from Congress, Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, have made many public appearances on behalf of their group Americans for Responsible Solutions, which advocates for gun safety reform.

She further noted that Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberKavanaugh nomination a make or break moment to repeal Citizens United Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Principles and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words MORE, her former district director who was also injured in the shooting, held town halls after succeeding her in Congress.


"I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public. 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," Giffords said. 

On Tuesday, Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertPence to give keynote address at National Conservative Student Conference Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program 136 Republicans get Fs in accountability rankings from anti-Trump GOP group MORE (R-Texas) invoked the 2011 shooting that killed six people as a reason not to hold a public town hall in his district.

"Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge. However, the House sergeant at arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed — just as happened there," said Gohmert, who planned to hold tele-town halls instead. 

Those comments didn't sit well with Giffords.

“To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”

And if lawmakers are worried about gun violence at such events, Giffords suggested they consider the proposals advocated by her organization.

“Many of the members of Congress who are refusing to hold town halls and listen to their constituents concerns are the very same politicians that have opposed commonsense gun violence prevention policies and have allowed the Washington gun lobby to threaten the safety of law enforcement and everyday citizens in our schools, businesses, places of worship, airports, and movie theaters."

Many GOP lawmakers have been faced tough crowds at public town halls during this week's congressional recess, while others are avoiding any events at all.

Most of the House Republicans considered most vulnerable in next year's elections, for instance, have largely been avoiding public town halls. 

President Trump has dismissed the feisty crowds as paid protests. 

"The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!" Trump tweeted earlier this week.