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Florida Delegation Weighs In on Arizona Tragedy

January 9, 2011 - 6:00pm

While Gov. Rick Scott issued an order Monday for all flags at state buildings to fly at half-staff this week in remembrance of victims of the mass shooting in Arizona, members of Floridas congressional delegation weighed in on the tragic events.

The shooting resulted in the death of six people, and others --including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. --were wounded.

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz took to the airwaves, appearing on NBCs Meet the Press Sunday to condemn the shooting. Wasserman Schultz, a friend of Giffords, talked about increasingly angry and violent political rhetoric, singling out a comment by conservative radio-host Joyce Kaufman calling for the use of bullets if ballots failed. That comment helped prevent Kaufman from becoming chief of staff to Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West.

Gabby is one of my closest friends and my thoughts and prayers are with Mark, Gabbys parents, and their family as they struggle to get through this unimaginable tragedy. I pray for her full recovery and the recovery of the other victims of this horrific act of senseless violence, said Wasserman Schultz in a statement. Anyone who knows Gabby knows that she is one of the nicest people you will meet. Ive never heard her raise her voice in anger or express anything but optimism for our future and our nation.

Just two days after she stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and read from the First Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing free speech, she was shot while speaking with her constituents, continued Wasserman Schultz. The interaction of a member of Congress with the people they represent is one of the greatest tenets of our democracy. I know how strongly Gabby feels about being accessible to the people that she represents.

Wasserman Schultzs comments were echoed by her fellow South Florida Democrat, Rep. Alcee Hastings.

Gabby is truly a nice person, highly principled and tenacious, said Hastings. The attack on her, staff members, constituents and bystanders is incredibly senseless. My prayer and hope is that Gabby and all who were injured will be made whole. My condolences go out to those who have lost loved ones. Once all the facts are known, appropriate authorities should see to it that her attacker is brought to justice swiftly. All persons in America should call for our society to teach tolerance, love, and civility.

Republican members of the delegation also expressed their sadness over the tragedy and offered thoughts and prayers for the victims.

This is a senseless act of violence that has no place in our society, said U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw. At this time of tragedy, my thoughts and prayers go out to Representative Giffords, her family, staff, and all the victims of this horrific event.

I am deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy that occurred in Tucson today, said U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who took his seat earlier in the week. There is no room for attacks like this in a free society where we have the luxury of an open exchange of ideas. This is a sad day for our country. My thoughts and prayers go out to Judge John Roll, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and all the victims and families impacted by this senseless act of violence.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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