Gabrielle Giffords, The Arizona congresswoman shot today outside a Tucson Safeway, was featured on Sarah Palin's infamous 'crosshairs' map, which targeted legislators who voted for Obama's health care bill. Remember? The map that was criticized as an incitement to violence?
Giffords, a third-term legislator, supported Obama's health care reform bill. This earned her a place on the map, posted to Takebackthe20.com by Sarah Palin's Political Action Committe, that literally put Democrats in the cross-hairs last spring after the bill passed. "Don't retreat, instead- RELOAD!" was how Palin introduced the map to her Twitter followers. Days later, a vandal smashed the glass door of Giffords' Tucson office. Giffords' father tells the New York Post that members of the Tea Party "always threatened" his daughter.
Giffords' Tea Party opponent in the 2010 election, Jesse Kelly, went even further with the violent rhetoric. Kelly's campaign held an event called "Get on Target for Victory in November." Description: "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."
There's no indication that the gunman who shot down Rep. Giffords was motivated by politics. But the Giffords shooting should at the very least underscore the fact that, as Matt Yglesias says, "gun imagery and electoral politics don't mix."