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Barring Info, Speculating On Motive Behind Giffords Shooting Helps No One

In this era of instant information and 24/7 Tweeting, it is understandable that news about today's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) after an event in Tucson spread like wildfire.

What is also unsurprising, but regrettable, is that everyone is ascribing a motive for the shooting without any credible information.

The Internet and the Twitterworld have been filled with speculation on why she was shot: that she was too liberal and was shot by a Tea Party conservative.  Or that she was too moderate and shot by someone on the left.

All we know is that the shooter is under custody.  No statement has been released, no motive revealed.  Self-anointed "journalists" should keep such opinions to themselves until we know more.

It immediately reminded me of the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, when the early reports — in those pre-Twitter days — widely speculated it was probably the work of Mideast extremists.  It was not.

As conflicting reports describe her condition — some say she was killed, others say she is still in surgery — it also brings to mind another shocking shooting of a member of Congress.  Leo Ryan, a California Democrat, was assassinated 11 days after he won re-election in November 1978.  The shooting took place in Jonestown, Guyana, by supporters of cult leader Jim Jones.  Ryan had flown to the South American country to investigate reports of mistreatment of Ryan supporters.

Gabrielle Giffords — widely known as "Gabby" — was elected to a third term in November by an extremely close margin.  She defeated Tea Party favorite Jesse Kelly by just 4,000 votes (48.8%-47%) out of nearly 300,000 cast.

Giffords is considered a moderate in a district that had long elected Republicans to Congress.  She first won the seat in 2006 after a moderate Republican, Jim Kolbe, retired, and the GOP nominee, Randy Graf, ran a very-tough-on-immigration campaign that alienated many Republicans.

She was one of 19 Democrats who voted against Nancy Pelosi in the race for speaker on the House floor this week; she voted instead for John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Her husband is Mark Kelly, an astronaut.

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For constant updates on the shooting, click here for NPR's Two Way blog.

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