NY pols react to Arizona shooting

A man sits near the scene of a A man sits near the scene of a shooting that involved Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday. (Jan. 8, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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New York members of Congress expressed shock Saturday over the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people.

"This hateful crime is a tragedy beyond words," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. Gillibrand has held constituent meet-and-greets at supermarkets and shopping centers similar to the one where Giffords was shot.

"This is a sad day for the people of Arizona and America," said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The shooting illustrates the nation's "increasingly angry and uncivil public discourse," said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).

"I think it is deeply regrettable," he said. "It moves us further away from where we need to be as a country."

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Said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights): "We have to have a national dialogue about what's acceptable and what's not in a democratic society."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the attack "senseless and savage" and said, "The individual who perpetrated these attacks must face swift and certain justice." He called Giffords a trailblazer and said she was the youngest woman from Arizona ever elected to Congress.

"This is clearly an illustration of why we must all work together to fight gun violence in America and keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of the wrong people," said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), an advocate of gun control.

For Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), yesterday's shooting was a personal tragedy as well as a public one.

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Israel says he's good friends with Giffords and her husband and that he had helped her campaign for Congress for the first time in 2006.

"I'm pretty shaken up by this," Israel told Newsday Saturday.

During the 2006 campaign, Israel said, he and his parents, who live in Arizona, joined Giffords and Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut who is now Giffords' husband, in campaigning in Tucson, with Israel's father driving the car. "Mark said, 'I can survive the space shuttle, but I don't think I can survive your father's driving,' " Israel recalled.

"This is both a personal tragedy and a tragic reminder that we cannot remain silent when political rhetoric turns violent," Israel said in a statement.

He told Newsday: "We just have to learn how to disagree with one another without vilifying one another."

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With Will Van Sant,

Tom Brune, James T. Madore and AP

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