Shooting prompts legislation to protect lawmakers, officials
January 9th, 2011
03:46 PM ET
12 years ago

Shooting prompts legislation to protect lawmakers, officials

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official.

Brady's decision to offer the legislation comes less than 24 hours after a gunman attempted to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, in a shooting that claimed the lives of a federal judge, and a nine year-old girl, among others.

"The president is a federal official," Brady said in a telephone interview with CNN. "You can't do it to him; you should not be able to do it to a congressman, senator or federal judge.

"This is not a wake up call, this is major alarms going off," he said.

Brady is particularly incensed over a web posting by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin during the 2010 election in which she targeted 20 House Democrats, including Giffords for political defeat. The posting showed a map of the United States with the 20 Democratic congressional districts identified by gun sights.

"You can't put bulls eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official," Brady said. "I understand this web site that had it on there is no longer in existence. Someone is feeling a little guilty."

But a Palin aide Saturday denied the web posting from the 2010 congressional campaign was designed to incite violence. Rebecca Mansour told conservative host Tammy Bruce that it was a political tool and noted it should have been removed after the November election.

Brady said he is hearing that the spouses of some of his congressional colleagues, specifically the newly elected members, are terrified and questioning whether they should remain in Congress. Upon hearing the news of the shooting Saturday, some spouses attending a freshman retreat in West Virginia, were "taking their children out of the daycare," Brady said he was told.

"The spouses are in an uproar," he said. "They are panicking."

Brady said it is now time to put an end to the hyper-charged language.

"The rhetoric is just ramped up so negatively, so high, that we have got to shut this down," Brady said, noting that "I've had my share of death threats" over his many years in politics.

Brady said he has not spoken to his House colleagues about the bill or a senator who might offer similar legislation. But Brady noted that he hoped to have it ready as soon as possible.

Brady stressed he is not "pointing at any particular party" noting that there is Democratic rhetoric and actions at times that he thinks is out of bounds. "You can disagree without being disagreeable," he said.

As for support for the bill, Brady said, "Why would you be against it?"

Filed under: Arizona • Congress • Gabrielle Giffords • Sarah Palin
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Eric

    "This IS the result of the hate merchants that permeate our radio and TV airwaves, both left and right."

    Yes, I'm sure the liberal shooter spent a lot of time listening to Beck and Limbaugh and Palin and everybody else.

    January 9, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. charles

    This would be a great peice of legislation, although I think it is a little subjective and large. Could be perceived makes me uncomfortable, it's a very wide swath of speech to target.

    January 9, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
1 2 3