by Jim Nintzel
Congressman Ron Barber took to the floor of Congress on the anniversary of the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting rampage. The press release from Barber's office:
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, who was wounded three years ago today in the shooting in Tucson, led a moment of silence on the floor of the House after speaking about the compassion and strength of the Tucson and Southern Arizona community.
Then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Barber, who was Giffords’ district director, were among the 13 wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Congress On Your Corner held in Northwest Tucson by Giffords. Six people were killed: 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords’ outreach director.
Today Barber was joined with the Arizona delegation as well as friends and colleagues of Giffords to honor those who were injured and killed with a moment of silence.
“Sadly, in the last three years, other communities have been struck by similar senseless acts of violence,” Barber said today before leading the moment of silence. “The most fitting memorial would be to take action to prevent another such tragedy. As a shooting survivor, a grandfather and a member of Congress, I am determined to do so and I know that many others in this body and in the Senate have the same aspiration.”
Barber also noted that the shooting came during “democracy in action — a member of this body, the people’s house, was meeting one-on-one with her constituents.”
The congressman remembered how the Tucson community responded to the tragedy. “The compassion, the love, the prayers and the good will that poured out has helped all of us heal our broken hearts and bring some good out of that horrific day,” Barber said. “Organizations have been established to help with the educational needs of children, to prevent bullying and to reduce the stigma of mental illness and improve those services.”
And he praised Giffords, his predecessor in Congress and his former boss, saying: “Congresswoman Giffords continues her remarkable recovery. Her perseverance and determination give hope to others and she is a true inspiration to the country and to the world.”
Since taking office in mid-2012, Barber has become a national leader in the effort to increase mental health service and treatment. Barber is a vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and is focused on the mental health aspects of what can be done to reduce the incidents of gun-related violence.
Barber was called a “champion of mental health first aid” by Vice President Joe Biden.
Barber introduced the bipartisan Mental Health First Aid Act, which will provide education to increase public awareness of mental illness symptoms and services available by training teachers, students, firefighters, police officers, emergency services workers and members of the general public. Provisions of Mental Health First Aid were incorporated into the president’s gun-violence prevention program.