Local elected officials remark on Ariz. shooting

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Saturday will go down in history as the day Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was allegedly shot in the head by a man who has some mental health issues.

That day 22 year-old Jared L. Loughner, described as a man with mental issues and ties to hate groups, killed six people and injured 14, but his apparent primary target is still alive, in spite of a point blank gunshot to the head.

“I am deeply saddened by the senseless attack on Rep. Giffords of Arizona, my colleague on the House Armed Services and Science and Technology committees,” U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo said in a press release. “My prayers are with her husband and family, as well as the families of all those affected by this tragedy.”

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Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., said the incident shows that signs of mental instability, when observed, need to be acted upon quickly to get treatment for those exhibiting them, instead of throwing them to the side.

“It’s a tragic incident,” Pinero said.

The possibility of Loughner suffering from mental problems seems to rule the media reports as a potential reason for the shooting, among others. Council member Larry Watkins agreed that when mental issues are observed, they need to be taken seriously. The failure to do so is what led to the events in Arizona, Watkins said. If only someone had listened and observed his disorder and gotten help for Loughner, the shooting may have been avoided, Watkins said.

Typically when events such as the Arizona shooting occur, activists gather to attempt to enact stricter laws against owning a gun, which is what Pearl River County Supervisor Patrick Lee hopes does not happen. He said he hopes there is not a knee jerk reaction by activists or lawmakers to attempt to enact tougher gun control measures. However, Lee said he is prepared if such an event were to occur at a county supervisor meeting.

“If they come in a Pearl River County board room they better get ready to get shot back at from all directions,” Lee said.

As of Monday afternoon, national media outlets state Giffords is alive but in serious condition. Her out look for recovery, considering her injuries is favorable.

Loughner is being held without bail for charges related to the incident, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress and two counts of killing a federal government employee. More charges are expected to be filed at a later date, according to national media reports.