Rep. Gabby Gifford's Shooter Sentenced--It's Not Enough

4 years ago

Editor's Note: Ashleigh Burroughs was shot three times at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Tucson, Arizona press event in January 2011. She has been writing about the shooting and its aftermath for BlogHer. Below is what she had to say after gunman Jared Loughner's plea bargain in August. Loughner was officially sentenced today; Gabrielle and her husband, Mark Kelly, were there (read Kelly's statement). Ashleigh also spoke in court. We will update if Ashleigh is able to post about it on her blog. --Julie

The Federal case has been resolved. The shooter will spend seven lifetimes plus one hundred forty years behind bars. He cannot appeal the decision and he will never be eligible for parole. Judge Burns explained it to him, clearly and without a trace of condescension. He listened, with a clear head and a clear mind, and he accepted responsibility for what he'd done.

It's not enough. Nothing will ever be enough. Six lives are lost and thirteen of us bear the physical scars of his bullets. Countless famiy, friends, by-standers, and neighbors are still reeling from the fact that people they knew encountered evil in a parking lot on a sunny Saturday morning.

It is not enough. What we want is the restoration of our innocence, of our belief that exercising our civic duty before shopping for brussel sprouts will not be fraught with danger. We want to shake the hand of our Congresswoman, we who agreed with her and those who wanted to give her a piece of their minds, and we want to do so without fear.

7 lifetimes + 140 years doesn't give us that.

Every single piece of this story is sad. There is nuance beyond the pro's and con's of the death penalty. There is a failure of systems and an impotence that defies description. We want to believe that we look out for one another, that if someone in our midst is suffering we will take the time, we will make the effort, we will exert ourselves to lend a hand.

What we really want, life and the people in it as they were on January 7th, is impossible.

Instead, what we have is justice. Justice does not provide solace. Justice does not cosset. Justice is blind and impartial. Justice has rules. There are facts and there are consequences and when, everyone agrees, there is a deal.

It's not enough, but it's the very best that there is.

Jan 15, 2011 - Tucson, Arizona, U.S. - The ever growing Gabrielle Giffords vigil at the University Medical Center in Tucson, AZ. U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head when a gunman opened fire during an event entitled 'Congress on your Corner' in front of a Safeway grocery store January 8, 2011 in Tuscon, Arizona. (Credit Image: © James F. Palka/

a/b from The Burrow at

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