Amid ongoing recovery from severe injuries sustained in a shooting last year, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords announced Jan. 25 that she will step down from her position. One of a dozen injured in a January 2011 shooting spree at a community event sponsored by Giffords in Tucson, the three-term Democratic congresswoman spent five months in a Houston hospital. She had refused to give up her position, returning to Washington on August 1 to have her voice heard and cast her vote on the debate at the time over the nation’s debt ceiling.
“I’m getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country,” Giffords said in a resignation video posted to her Facebook page. “I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice.”
Giffords is still regaining her cognitive skills, as she was shot in the head at close range during the attack. Her walking and speech skills are slowly returning to normal.
“You will be missed in the House of Representatives, but your legacy in this Congress and your leadership in our nation will certainly endure,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told Giffords when she arrived on the House floor to submit her resignation, according to The New York Times. “So thank you for being who you are, for lifting our country at a very important and sad time.”
Questions about the shooting remain, such as why the mentally unstable Jared L. Loughner, 23, was allowed to purchase the Glock pistol with which he would later kill six people, including a federal judge and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green who attended the event and hoped for a career in politics one day.
Loughner has been declared mentally unfit to stand trial and at the time he purchased the gun he was on suspension from his community college, where he was told not to return until he received a determination from a mental-health professional that he was not a danger to himself or others.