The year 2011 was still in its first week when shots rang out in an upscale mall in Tucson, Ariz. A gunman had walked into the monthly meet-greet-and-gripe session of the local Representative, Democrat Gabriele Giffords, and opened fire, killing six people and injuring 19, including the congresswoman, who was severely wounded in the head. The political atmosphere of the previous year had been particularly heated, not just in Arizona a frontline state in the national debate over everything from immigration to gun control but in the rest of the country as Tea Party rhetoric met with liberal reaction. The first horrified gasp after the Giffords shooting was "It has come to this." But the attack was revealed to have been committed by a psychologically disturbed young man, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, who was eventually declared unfit to stand trial. The slow, painful but inspiring recovery of Representative Giffords has been the one positive narrative to emerge from the tragedy.
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