One year and ten months after fatally shooting six people and attempting the assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Jared Loughner has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Imposing seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in prison, Judge Larry Burns explained that Loughner “will never have the opportunity to pick up a gun and do this again.” Loughner was spared the death penalty by entering a plea bargain.
Suffering traumatic injuries when a bullet pierced her head, Giffords has made a remarkable recovery since the January 2011 shooting in Tucson, AZ. Although she remains paralyzed in one arm and struggles with some speech impairments, Giffords’ progress has been significant, as was demonstrated by her moving address to the Democratic National Convention earlier this fall.
After Giffords resigned from her seat, her former district director Ron Barber won a special election to represent Arizona’s 8th congressional district. Barber is currently awaiting the final result in his contest for Arizona’s redistricted second district, where he trails Martha McSally by a few hundred votes in the current count.
The Reform Movement has long been active in the fight for common-sense gun control laws. We are horrified by the continued abuse of loose weapon laws and mourn each and every time a human life is lost from what we believe to be preventable deaths. Our tradition mandates: “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13) and teaches that “he who takes one life it is as if he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe”(Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). The Central Conference of American Rabbis resolution on gun control calls on the United States government to “eliminate the manufacture, importation, advertising, sale, transfer and possession of handguns except for limited instances.”
While the ruling and sentencing in the 2011 shootings are an important step in the pursuit of justice, it is important that we remember the six victims who were unable to see their shooter plead guilty; we must keep in mind the still grieving families for whom this ruling does not bring back their loved ones. It is important that Loughner receive this deserved sentence, but we must now move forward to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.
Photo courtesy of AP/Ross D. Franklin