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Gates, Napolitano, Holder React to Giffords Shooting

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder; Photo: defense.gov, dhs.gov, justice.gov

The Saturday shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), which killed six people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and wounded 14 others, according to police, has spurred reactions across the federal government and Congress.

USA Today reports political leaders across the spectrum and throughout the halls of government are “deeply shaken” by the attack.

President Barack Obama called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy.”

“We do not yet have all the answers,” he continued. “What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in an echo of Obama’s remarks, similarly condemned the attacks.

Napolitano, who before becoming DHS secretary in 2009 served as Arizona’s governor, praised Giffords as a “steadfast representative” of the state.

“The Department of Homeland Security has offered all possible assistance to the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, who are leading the investigation,” she added.

Attorney General Eric Holder said he had dispatched FBI Director Robert Mueller to Arizona to coordinate the ensuing investigation.

“I have directed department prosecutors and law enforcement officials to use every resource necessary to investigate this tragedy,” he said. “I want to assure the people of Arizona and every American that we will hold accountable anyone responsible for these heinous acts.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a released statement, said he was “saddened” by the attack.

“I have had an opportunity to interact with Congresswoman Giffords in her capacity as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where she served on the Readiness and Air and Land Forces subcommittees,” he added. “She is a strong supporter of America’s national defense.”

Fellow Arizona lawmaker John McCain, in a passionate statement, said whoever did this, “whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and strongest punishment of the law.”

A report on Government Executive reported the shooting has raised questions about lawmakers’ security.

“Despite record numbers of threats and a toxic political environment,” the report says, “most lawmakers are almost completely unprotected when they venture outside the secure bubble of Capitol Hill.”

House Speaker John Boehner said lawmakers would press on in their official duties, in the shadow of the tragic shooting.

“This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling, to represent our constituents and to fulfill our oaths of office,” Boehner said, according to Politico. “No act, no matter how heinous, must be allowed to stop us from our duties.”

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