U.S. Rep. Ron Barber said the January 2011 mass shooting in Tucson that killed six and forced his predecessor, Gabrielle Giffords, to resign because of brain injuries, haunts him every Saturday.
Speaking Saturday in Green Valley to commemorate the shooting’s two-year anniversary, Barber said that he remembers the shooting every Saturday at the exact time it began, at 10:11 a.m.
“I actually reflect a lot on Saturday morning, no matter what Saturday it is,” said Barber. “I reflect on it because It’s often —whether I’m in Washington or whether I’m in Tucson — I wake up in the morning on Saturday, I look at the clock, and I remember what we were doing almost two years ago.”
The speech was posted on YouTube by La Posada, a continued care retirement community.
It was Barber’s first comments at one of two scheduled events Saturday as part of a movement started by the family of Gabe Zimmerman, who was one of the six people killed in the attack. Giffords was shot in the head and later resigned from Congress. Twelve others were injured, including Barber, who was Giffords’ district director.
Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman in the shooting, was sentenced in November to life in prison for the shooting.
“In 45 seconds, 31 bullets were discharged and 19 really beautiful and wonderful people were down,” said Barber. “It’s important to remember what happened and why it happened.”
Barber vowed in Zimmerman’s memory to pursue legislation aimed at preventing mass shootings in the future, especially on offering more mental health services. Providing better mental health services was something Zimmerman, a social worker and a staffer for Giffords, strongly felt was needed, said Barber.
“And clearly what we understand now about what happened that morning on Jan. 8, 2011, the need for more mental health services could never be more apparent,” said Barber.
Barber added that Zimmerman — whom staffers called the “constituent whisperer” — supported the Second Amendment but not by having “weapons that might commit these mass shootings.”
Barber was scheduled to speak later Saturday at another event in Tucson, and at an interfaith service at St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson on Sunday.
Barber said he was further moved to do something about mass shootings after the shootings in Newtown, Conn. One of the victims, he said, reminded him of his young granddaughter.
“We have to do something to prevent something like this from happening again,” Barber said.