The tragic shooting at an Arizona "Congress on Your Corner" event on Saturday should not stop the tradition of free and open dialogue between elected officials and the public, legislators from the region said.

"What separates us from other cultures and other governments is our approachability," said U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.

Tonko said in a telephone interview that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat critically wounded in the shooting, has valued that type of interaction.

"The irony here is that she was the consummate representative by connecting with people. She was bringing it to their doorstep and was brought down in that effort," said Tonko, who serves with Giffords on the House Science and Technology Committee.

Six people were killed and 14 people were injured in the shooting on Saturday at a forum at a supermarket.

Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old shooter, was charged Sunday with murder and attempted murder of federal employees, the Associated Press reported.

Giffords, a third-term congresswoman, was still in critical condition at a hospital in Tucson on Sunday evening.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who serves with Giffords on the House Armed Forces Committee, called the shooting "almost ad hoc violence."

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and his wife offered their thoughts and prayers to the congresswoman and her family.

Gibson was attending a retreat for new representatives to learn about House rules over the weekend and was not available to comment directly, said spokeswoman Stephanie Valle.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a statement that the shooting "is a tragedy beyond words."

Other elected officials said that threats of violence on public officials are not unheard of, and are always taken seriously.

Owens said he once received a threatening telephone call some time ago, but it was not considered a material threat.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the CBS news program "Face the Nation" on Sunday that federal law enforcement officials investigate "a handful of threats" against members of Congress each month, usually by mentally unstable people, "not people with political motivation."

Tonko said the FBI, Capitol Police and the House Sergeant of Arms are working jointly to analyze the situation.

"They are, as we speak, working as a team to determine a lot about this incident and perhaps recommendations will rise from that," Tonko said.

Owens said he is waiting to hear those recommendations.

"First of all what I’d like to have them do is complete the investigation ... and make sure it is what it appears, which is, I think, an irrational individual who turned to violence inappropriately," he said. "I think that one of the things that we have to be careful of — both politicians and the media — is that we make sure that our commentary is not incendiary, that when we talk about our opponents, we talk about them respectfully, and we talk about what the issues are."

State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, said the incident shows the need for more respect in politics.

"You know the rhetoric with what people are able to say and do on blogs, you know the Rush Limbaughs of the world, it’s a lot of perpetuating the difficulties we’re having with government, whether it’s at the state level or the federal level," she said.

Sayward said she has never been threatened directly, but once someone posted flyers on her office door in the hallway outside her office in Albany.

The flyers featured a circle around her picture with a slash over it, similar to "no smoking" signs, she said.

"It makes you really uncomfortable," she said.

Ben Potiker, a local tea party leader, said that political rhetoric has always been heated, but is more visible now because of the Internet and plethora of media outlets.

"It’s just now we live in a digital age where blogs are so prevalent that it just seems like it’s more — or maybe it’s just more visible," said Potiker, president of the Upstate Conservative Coalition, based in Saratoga Springs.

Potiker said criticism of Sarah Palin for an ad that featured a map with Giffords and other political candidates in a rifle’s crosshairs is unfair.

"That’s just verbiage. It’s really not meant to incite anything," he said.

State Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, said people need to "tone down the angry, vindicative talk" about politics.

"You know, we have free speech, but I think that people have to start thinking about some of the things they are saying and how it’s affecting some of the people who are listening, when they have no idea who is listening," she said.

Little said politicians should continue going out to meet with the public, but perhaps at the congressional level there should better security.

State Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, said there still needs to be interaction between legislators and the public.

"I think the one thing we all know is there are troubled people in the world," he said. "And I guess maybe I subscribe to the philosophy that if you suddenly barricade yourself in, then that attitude and that mind-set wins."

(16) comments

YipSkip

How can someone like Theresa Sayward blame Rush Limbaugh for this act of violence? With Republicans like Sayward, who needs Democrats?

Kudos to Tony Jordan for recognizing that the terrorists win if we over-react.

patcher

Theresa "double dip" Sayward should retire, rhetoric like that has no place in a sane world.

Stephne

"With Republicans like Sayward, who needs Democrats?"

Don't republicans mourn acts of violence?

Sarah Palin removed her crosshairs map from Sarah.pac. Still a tea party darling, amazing.

rdc

When a TeaPublican says of Sarah Palin using crosshairs on political imagery: "That’s just verbiage. It’s really not meant to incite anything,", it shows their true colors. Or maybe how dumb they really are. Either way, this fringe group will hopefully be pulled fromn the cup, squeezed dry and thrown in the trash where it belongs.

the hermit

Who needs politicians anyway? They should be kept out of government and called what they are "lobbiests" and not allowed past the front steps of American government. It used to be called treason or one hand washing the other didn't it? They are NOT royalty....

nosylae

Not that I am defending Teresa "double dip" Sayward (I love that!) but she did not directly blame Limbaugh for this act of violence. Did you actually read what she said? The vitriolic statements that come out of extreme right and left wingnuts only add fuel to to already mentally unstable individuals. Those people need to act a little more responsible and not just say things that will get higher ratings.

kramervskramer

Yeah Tony really stepped up in giving the State Police a blank check for a $1.5 million dollar (this figure has not been verified) manhunt in Easton within his district. One would expect a realistic response from law enforcement when one of their own is injured. It's awful easy for him to say things when the vast majority of his constituents are Reichwingers and Tea Partiers within his district.

cadman

State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, said the incident shows the need for more respect in politics.

When politicians start showing more RESPECT for those that vote them in office then maybe they will get the respect they think they deserve! I was taught that you do not get respect because of who or what you are, you EARN it! How can anyone respect these people when all they want to do is raise taxes and try to figure out ways to take away our freedoms. These fat cats need to realize that "WE THE PEOPLE" pay their salaries. It's sad that this happened but I feel this is not the last time we will see this type of headline.

listen2me

Politics is a very emotional topic for most. Especially lately with elections just finishing up. You wanted the job to be in politics you sort of have to expect that people will be upset with some choices you make.

YipSkip

[quote]kramervskramer said: "Yeah Tony really stepped up in giving the State Police a blank check for a $1.5 million dollar (this figure has not been verified) manhunt in Easton within his district. One would expect a realistic response from law enforcement when one of their own is injured. It's awful easy for him to say things when the vast majority of his constituents are Reichwingers and Tea Partiers within his district. "[/quote]

Isn't accusing the vast majority of the residents as being Nazis (Reichwingers) the type of political hate speech that you and the Paul Krugmans of the World claim to be trying to eradicate. Actually, in your bizarre world-view, political hate speech against conservatives is good. Any political speech by conservatives is to be condemned.

2bnvegas

[quote]rdc said: "When a TeaPublican says of Sarah Palin using crosshairs on political imagery: "That’s just verbiage. It’s really not meant to incite anything,", it shows their true colors. Or maybe how dumb they really are. Either way, this fringe group will hopefully be pulled fromn the cup, squeezed dry and thrown in the trash where it belongs."[/quote]

Here you go again with the name calling. You people really can't help yourselves can you. It's truly despicable but not unexpected that this tragedy has been so politicized by the radical left. To try and connect Sarah Palin to this act of a madman is reprehensible. What was his motive for killing a 9 year old girl? People like you disgust me.

Stephne

In the tea party world Paul Krugman (Nobel Peace prize recipient in economics) is a bad word. Education bad, government bad, government handouts except my government hand outs bad.

2bnvegas

[quote]Stephne said: "In the tea party world Paul Krugman (Nobel Peace prize recipient in economics) is a bad word. Education bad, government bad, government handouts except my government hand outs bad."[/quote]

Let me help clarify the "tea party world" view for you. Paul Krugman making wild accusations 2 hrs after the tragedy took place without any basis in facts ...bad, Education good...billions of $ wasted by the govt dept of education producing below average students when compared to other developed nations..bad, government necessary..an overbearing,bloated,intrusive,wasteful,corrupt government bad. Government handouts to those truly in need necessary...unfunded government handouts to lazy unmotivated individuals who use them to buy non essential items...bad.

Stephne

with the pix I've seen of the tea party people a large majority get government healthcare and social security, the ones I personally know are state workers or drawing state pensions. You don't like the gov't give back the bennies.

How does the tea party get their money? Do the members contribute enough to travel all over the country and pay millions in support of their candidates?

I think not.

Koch Bros. for one.

Rieux
Rieux

Yipskip, You're starting to "get it." Hate speech is okay just as long as it's coming from the left. You see, since they're so much smarter than everybody else (they do know what's best for you after all) it follows that they should be the only ones allowed to dish it out. It's pretty simple really. Just to try keep this simple formula in mind: Conservatives = Dumb. Liberals = Smart. In closing, the order of the above can be reversed and should you forget the equation just ask a liberal. I'm sure he or she will be more than happy to go over it with you. Have a nice day ! :)

Edited by staff.

Rieux, ANY OTHERS?,

This shooter was a deranged malcontent.

I continually & redundantly offer to document that the coalition between the few wealthy & the ill-informed "workin' Joe 6-pks." does damage to 6-pk's. economic prospects. That has less to do w/ smart vs stupid than it does w/ the clear historical record - 1 that isn't manipulated by left or right!

Who's stood still or fallen behind since Reagan? Joe 6-pk. Who's still grabbin' more of the "pie?" The moneyed aristocrats. Who's fault? Flag-wavin' - liberty lovin' - Joe 6. Joe has LESS freedom ($$!) in the store as his "share's" falling back - except his tax share, of course. That's increasing!

Generally, the GOP conservatives favor the wealthy. Of necessity that's at the expense of the rest. Democrats attempt to make life better for the - anything but "rich" - vast majority.

Why not look me up - or provide your contact data? (Mine's available at Vals Pl., F.E Rte. 4, across from F.E.H.S.

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