Three Years After Giffords Shot, “Nothing Really Changed” On Civility


The Arizona Republic explores what has happened in the three years since former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in Tucson and six people were killed. The national conversation shifted to mental-health-care resources, the nation’s fractured public discourse, and who should have access to guns and under what conditions. University of Arizona President Robert Shelton said Tucson has come together stronger than before, but he believes the country is even less tolerant. “I don't think it's gotten any better,” he said. “In fact, it probably has gotten a little worse.”

Then-Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), now a Senator, still prays for Giffords' improvement, but last year, he voted against a bill to expand background checks for gun buyers, a bill supported by Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly. “There's broad agreement on the mental-health aspect, but as far as universal background checks there isn't so much agreement there,” he said. Peter Michaels is communications director for the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona. UA. He joined the center, hoping that he could do something to change the tone of the nation's public conversations. Today, the center, which focuses on civility in Congress, the media and the public, has grown from two people in Tucson to three people in Washington, D.C., and four in Tucson.”It's changed a little, not as much as we hoped it would,” he said. “I would've thought the discourse in popular culture would've improved after the shooting. People talked about it, but nothing really changed.”

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