A make shift memorial at Ina and Oracle.

File Photo

Several gatherings and tributes are planned over the next month in observance of the three-year anniversary of the Tucson shooting that left six dead and 13 injured, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, on Jan. 8, 2011.

Since Saturday, the January 8th Memorial Foundation, which was established to commemorate the shooting and the community’s response to it, has put together an exhibition and tribute to Tucson.

The materials collected from the memorial sites are on display at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, the Nanini Branch Library, and the Eckstrom-Columbus Library.

On Jan. 8, there will be a flag-raising and honor guard ceremony honoring the first responders at the Nanini Branch Library, located at 7300 N. Shannon Road, at 10:10 a.m. and the exhibit opening reception will follow.

The foundation has also initiated an effort to build a permanent memorial downtown.

There is also a community moment of remembrance in Tucson on Jan. 8, at 10:10 a.m.. During that time, people are asked to ring bells. Tucson’s Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will ring the bell at Fire Central, located at 300 S. Fire Central Place, 19 times in honor of Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman, and will pay tribute to the 13 people who were wounded three years ago.


Later in the day, St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church will host a special interfaith prayer service at 7 p.m. in the Bloom Music Center, which will include prayers and readings from a variety of faiths and cultures, augmented with musical meditations.


This will not only mark the third anniversary of the Tucson shootings, but is designed to help everyone affected by gun violence to move to hope and action.


Patricia Maisch will be the preacher. Maisch is a businesswoman from Oro Valley. On that day in January 2011, she attended Giffords’ Congress on Your Corner event at Safeway, where she grabbed a fresh clip away from the shooter as he attempted to reload.


As a result of the shooting, she has become an advocate for keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. She has testified before a U.S. Senate Committee, rallied at NRA conventions and spoken at shooting memorial events. The St. Philip’s Committee for the Prevention of Gun Violence is sponsoring the service.


The service is free and open to the public.


St. Philip’s will also sponsor a special forum at 10:15 a.m. on Jan. 12 in the Murphey Gallery. In a “community conversation” format, the dialogue about how to prevent gun violence and how it relates to mental illness will be continued.


St. Philip’s Committee for the Prevention of Gun Violence and St. Philip’s Mental Illness Ministry will be present to provide resources and information.


St. Philip’s is at 4440 N. Campbell Ave. at East River Road. Parking is available in the north parking lot or under the solar covered parking structure on the east side. The office phone is 299-6421.


For a list of events going on this month that the January 8th Memorial Foundation is involved in, visit the website at http://expnow.com/dr.


Political actions since the shooting

A year ago, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband launched Americans for Responsible Solutions, which is an organization that encourages elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence while protecting responsible gun ownership.

Since launching, the organization has raised $11 million, nearly $6 million from small donations, which were each under $200.

“It’s a lot of money and it, I think, just comminutes to further demonstrate that people are just sick of being told that this is an unanswerable problem because the gun lobbyist are too rich and too powerful,” said Pia Carusone, the executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “People don’t want to hear that anymore and we are giving them a way to get involved.”

The four solutions the organization promotes are criminal background checks, limiting high capacity magazines, limiting assault weapons and putting a stop to gun trafficking. 

Federal law requires that individuals seeking to buy a gun at a licensed dealer pass a background check to prevent criminals, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous people from purchasing firearms. Since the NICS instant background check system was implemented in 1998, background checks have denied transfers to over 1.7 million prohibited purchasers.

Americans for Responsible Solutions believes there is a gaping hole in the laws that allow criminals and others to go to “private sellers” at gun shows, on the Internet, and elsewhere to buy guns with no background check, no questions asked. 

The site explains, “commonly referred to as the private sales loophole or ‘gun show loophole,’ this failure in our public safety policy has allowed up to 40 percent of all gun transfers to take place without a background check.”

On the topic of limiting high capacity magazines, the organization believes, “High capacity magazines are a deadly factor in gun violence. According to the Department of Justice, they are used in between 14 and 26 percent of gun crimes and between 31 and 41 percent of fatal police shootings. And the data has shown that limiting such magazines helps save lives.”

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