Tucson: One Month After Shooting, the New Normal

Amanda Sapir picks up flags left at a memorial outside Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Tucson office on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011 in Tucson, Ariz.
AP/Pat Shannahan, Arizona Republic
TUCSON - A month after a lone gunman shot U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, the southern Arizona city and those whose lives were changed by what happened outside a Tucson grocery store are still reeling from the shockwaves that the massacre sent throughout the country.

Tuesday marks one month since the tragedy, but the families of the six people killed in the Jan. 8 shooting remained awash in grief, and the 13 survivors are struggling with their injuries and the emotional scars left behind.

Giffords' husband Mark Kelly noted the one-month anniversary with a mix of optimism and somberness.

"The doctors say (Gabrielle) is recovering at lightning speed considering her injury but they aren't kidding when they say this a marathon process," Kelly said in a statement. "I want the families of all the other victims and the entire Tucson community to know that Gabrielle will soon stand by your side to mourn this tragedy and learn how we can heal."

Giffords, who was critically wounded after being shot in the head, has been recovering at a rehabilitation hospital in Houston. An aide to Giffords, 230-year-old Gabe Zimmerman, was killed.

Complete Coverage: Tragedy in Tucson

In an op-ed published today in the Arizona Republic, Giffords' chief of staff, Pia Carusone writes that Giffords' staff has found it helpful to confront the "new normal" by quickly returning to work.

"We've already achieved notable successes. Last week, we were able to help two veterans get the service medals they never received, and assist a Tucson woman flee Cairo, Egypt, as the city erupted in riots," she wrote.

By appearances, Tucson has largely returned to the "new normal."

Last Friday volunteers removed thousands of candles, cards, photos, stuffed animals and flowers that were part of a makeshift memorial near the entrance of the University Medical Center, where many of the victims were treated. The items were boxed and stored in anticipation of a future, permanent memorial to the victims.

"Watching it come down is bittersweet," said hospital spokesperson Darci Slaten. "We know we have to move on and this is such a significant place where the community came together. Every time I walked down there I'd see something new that would choke me up."

Susan Hileman, who was holding 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green's hand when the shooting erupted, called the memorial "a giant hug from the community to those of us who were more immediately affected."

Green was one of six people who died. Hileman, who was shot three times, is recovering at her Tucson home.

Cards, letters and other remembrances continue to pour in to the family of Green, who herself made the gift of life possible for another by the donation of her organs to a little girl in Massachusetts.

Green's family has arranged with the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona to set up the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund. A separate scholarship fund has been established for University of Arizona students in honor of both Green and Daniel Hernandez Jr, a 20-year-old intern and UA student who helped save Giffords' life.

Last week friends and family remembered Dorothy Morris, 76, who was among the shooting victims. Her husband George, who was wounded while trying to shield his wife of 54 years from the bullets, was released from the hospital two weeks ago. He joined a memorial service Wednesday at St Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church, where loved ones remembered a "very happy, very bubbly" person who traveled, enjoyed life, and helped raise two daughters.

Others killed included Arizona Federal District Judge John Roll, 63; Phyllis Schneck, 79; and Dorwin Stoddard, 76.

This weekend at Sentinel Peak (also known as "A" Mountain), volunteers who cleared out invasive bufflegrass weeds also erected a small shrine to the shooting victims.

"We thought it would be a nice thing to do when we're volunteering, to let people know we care about Gabrielle and the other families of the victims," Diana Rhoades told CBS Affililate KOLD.

Once Giffords recovers, the volunteers say they hope to bring her back to "A" Mountain - a popular lookout point in Tucson - for a special event.

In Washington, CBS Affiliate KOLD reports that Congress could vote this week to name a planned federal courthouse in Yuma after Judge John M. Roll.

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, state lawmakers are taking action in the aftermath of the shooting - and to hear some tell it, political unity is fading with memory of the tragedy.

Some lawmakers say they're comporting themselves with new restraint and respect amid increased bipartisanship.

"Things have changed," said state House Speaker Kirk Adams, a Mesa Republican who, on the Jan. 10 opening day of the legislative session, said he prayed that the Legislature and society would be more attuned to respect and value.

"The relationships on an individual basis between the majority and the minority are better," Adams said Monday. "We're communicating a lot. We're cooperating on everything that it's possible to cooperate on."

Two Democratic leaders offered somewhat differing assessments.

House Minority Whip Matt Heinz said he was finding Republicans receptive to work on several policy issues in the session's first month.

"I certainly feel a sense of more unity, and it's not so much us versus them," he said.

But Tucson Democrat Rep. Steve Farley said he thinks that the shooting is now fading for many lawmakers, particularly those from other parts of the state.

"When I come up I-10, it's almost like it never happened," said Farley, referring to the major interstate freeway that links Arizona's capital city with Tucson. "In Tucson, we're still in the middle of it."

Farley is chief sponsor of a bill introduced late Monday that would ban the sale of large-capacity gun magazines, like the one used in the Tucson rampage which carried more than 30 rounds.

Also supporting the ban: Kelly O'Brien, the fiance of Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman.

But the bill, backed by 19 other Democratic lawmakers, faces a difficult road to passage at the Republican-led legislature.

John Wentling, a gun-rights lobbyist and chairman of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, told the Arizona Republic the bill was misguided and unconstitutional.

The State Senate Judiciary Committee is currently debating bills that would loosen gun restrictions. Among the measures that the ACDL supports is one that would disallow the banning of firearms from public buildings or events unless there are metal detectors or other means to ensure that weapons are not being carried undetected.

There is bipartisan support for a different piece of legislation which would require educational institutions and public agencies to notify health authorities about terminations, expulsions and suspensions resulting from violence or threatening behavior.

Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old Tucson man charged in the shooting, was booted out of Pima Community College because of behavior that campus police considered disturbing. He was told to get a mental health evaluation or not return.

Loughner, who pleaded not guilty in relation to the shooting, will face federal murder charges for the deaths of Roll and Zimmerman.