Factbox: What We Know and What We Don't Know About the Giffords Shooting

Monday, January 10, 2011

With information and rumor moving so quickly in the 48hours since the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, here are a few facts, plain and simple, that we hope can provide some context and accuracy. If you'd like to suggest some more for inclusion - real facts, remember - post them in the comments section and we'll add as appropriate.

Palin and Giffords

» Here is the "target" map that Sarah Palin's Political Action Committee posted online.

» Here is the "reload" tweet from March 23rd, 2009

» In March 2010, Giffords told CNN "The thing is, the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our distric. When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

» Sarah Palin posted her condolences on her Facebook page Saturday at 3pm, leading to a heated conversation among her followers.

» Palin did not remove the reload tweet or the facebook conversation it pointed to, but the "TakeBackThe20" site where the map first appeared was taken down on Saturday, and there is evidence that her Facebook comments were being moderated heavily, at least at first.

» Conservatives are referencing a comment by President Obama that "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun" from 2008. Here is the full context.

Media Response

» NPR was the first to erroneously report that Gifford had died. Craig Silverman tracks that story.

» NPR's Social Media editor compiles some of the key tweets and online developments from the Saturday.

The Shooting and the Shooter

» Six people were murdered. Here are profiles of the victims.

» There is no evidence of an affiliation between Jared Loughner and the Tea Party.

» Loughner passed a background check and purchased his gun legally.

» Loughner has been charged with five federal counts, including attempted assassination of a Congressman. Here is the complaint.

» The man on security footage that authorities considered a "person of interest" or a possible accomplice turned out to be a cab driver who drove Loughner to to the grocery store where the shooting took place.

» There was no security detail that day. CNN quotes Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik as saying that at events of that nature, "there's never security unless there's advance intelligence that there may be a problem of some kind."

» Loughner passed an instant background check at Sportsman’s Warehouse in AZ where he purchased his Glock on November 30th.  

» Loughner tried to buy ammunition at a WalMart in AZ and was turned away due to his bizarre behavior; he then went to another WalMart and was able to purchase ammunition. 

NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross spent an hour with Washington Post reporter James Grimaldi discussing Arizona gun laws. Here's what we learned:

»  In 2010 Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill to repeal a state law that required owners of firearms to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. 

» Instant background checks are required by federal law as a result of the Brady Law, named for Reagan Aid Jim Brady who was shot in 1981 in a botched assassination attempt. The checks look for felony convictions, because under federal law convicted felons cannot purchase handguns.  They also look for mental health records, though in order to be flagged by mental health records one must have seen a mental health professional and recieved a diagnosis. According to the Brady Campaign, a gun control organization, 80 - 90% of disqualifying mental heath records are not in the database, so many prohibited persons are not blocked from buying guns.  

» When you buy a weapon you have to fill a form swearing not to be an abuser of drugs or alcohol.  

» In Arizona guns are permitted inside the state capitol.


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Comments [5]


I have a question regarding the "gun sights" map and Gifford's response to it on MSNBC. In the interview, it is referenced multiple times as gun sights or "war rhetoric." We know that Palin's aides came out after the shooting and made the assertion that they were surveyor's sights, and not gun sights.

Were Palin or her aides ever prompted to respond to the gun sights claim before the shooting?

Jan. 12 2011 08:30 PM
cris from Stamford

The lunatic is probably a product of another failing educational system (as is Palin) which bleeds the hardworking people with taxes and other demands and delivers nothing.

Jan. 12 2011 01:08 PM
Bonnie from Northeast PA

Serious consideration should be given to charging Sarah Palin as an accessory to these crimes. The evidence would have to support the charges. If the gunman used her poster to select his target, the case could be made. This reminds me of comments made by Mike Huckabee during the last presidential election cycle where he "jokingly" advised his followers to stop anyone who was voting for his opponents. This was a purposeful suggestion.

Jan. 12 2011 02:04 AM

See above, we've added an answer about the security detail. There was none.

Jan. 10 2011 03:48 PM
Sara from New York City

Was there police protection and/or were there body guards in place covering Rep. Giffords and other public officials at the shopping center at the scene of the shooting?

Jan. 10 2011 11:50 AM

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