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In Tucson, day of remembrance was muted, but bells still rang

January 09, 2013|By Andrew Khouri

It was 10:10 a.m. Tuesday when the bells tolled in Tucson.

On a day of remembrance, many residents of the Arizona city rang bells in unison -- some shaking multiple ones looped together on strings. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild chose to ring a bell at a downtown fire station. It was all to mark the second anniversary of the Tuscon shooting.

The bells tolled 19 times -- one ring for each victim of the attack in which a gunman killed six people and wounded 13, including then-U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was sentenced two months ago to life in prison without parole.

Rothschild said that when he rang the fire station bell before a crowd of onlookers the memory of Jan. 8, 2011, came racing back.

"The whole event came back to me," he told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, adding that he had known some of those who died in the attack.

"It took longer to ring the bells than it did to shoot 19 people," Rothschild said in explaining why he favors tighter gun control, especially in regards to high-capacity magazines.

A year ago, Tucson also rang bells at the precise time of day when the shots rang out. In that commemoration, Giffords appeared at a vigil at the University of Arizona and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, an effort that brought some to tears.

This year, Giffords did something different for the anniversary of her being shot in the head. She became an even stronger advocate of gun control, injecting herself into the a national gun control debate that erupted after a gunman shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last month in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six staff members.

The former congresswoman and her husband, former astronaut Mark E. Kelly, announced the creation of an initiative to reform the nation’s gun laws. In an op-ed published in USA Today, the couple said their group, dubbed Americans for Responsible Solutions, would seek to raise money to counteract the pro-gun lobby.

“We have experienced too much death and hurt to remain idle. Our response to the Newtown massacre must consist of more than regret, sorrow and condolence,” they wrote. “The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve fellow citizens and leaders who have the will to prevent gun violence in the future.”

For Tucson, the second anniversary was different as well. Last year, in a show of solidarity, communities around the country joined in the bell ringing. This time around, Tucson decided to keep the commemoration local, Rothschild told The Times.

“Given how so many communities suffered through this," he said, referring to other mass shootings, including Newtown and the Aurora mass theater shooting "… we just wanted to keep it in our community.”


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