Udall, Hispanic Republicans call Giffords shooting an ‘attack on our democracy’

Democratic Colorado Sen. Mark Udall joined a chorus of voices, including Hispanic Republicans in Arizona, in strongly condemning the shooting today of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a meet and greet at a supermarket in her Tucson district.

“This is a sad day for our country,” Udall said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s senseless shootings.”

Alive but in critical condition, Giffords was reportedly shot once in the head by a 22-year-old suspect who was taken into custody by police. Several other people at the event were reportedly killed, including United States district court judge John Roll and a 9-year-old child. Another 18 people attending the event at a Safeway store north of Tucson were reportedly wounded.

“Congresswoman Giffords is a brilliant and dedicated public servant who works tirelessly for the people of her district,” Udall said. “I’m privileged to serve with her in the U.S. Congress and I’m honored to call her my friend. Today’s shootings, during a meeting between Rep. Giffords and her neighbors, were a cowardly attack on our democracy.”

Giffords is an outspoken critic of Arizona’s anti-illegal-immigration law, SB 1070, which opponents say has divided the state and will lead to racial profiling. Some Republican Colorado lawmakers want to pursue a similar piece of legislation in Colorado.

Somos Republicans, a national organization of Hispanic Republicans founded in Arizona last year in response to increasingly divisive rhetoric stemming from SB 1070, issued a release in the wake of the Giffords shooting:

“During tragic times like these, we should evaluate ourselves and the atmosphere that our state carries. Today, the Arizona Republic [newspaper] stated that Giffords believed the 1070 law was ‘divisive,’ and we believe she is absolutely correct to this regard. As Arizonans, have we done enough to reduce the hate and to encourage a healthy climate?

“The divisiveness and the hatred that Arizonans continue to witness is palpable and enormous, and we fear that hate will breed murder. The anti-immigrant climate that began with Sen. Russell Pearce (later blessed by Gov. Jan Brewer) has slithered under the guise of ‘border security,’ even though President Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than former President George W. Bush. Xenophobia and hate crimes have increased in our state. “

Police have identified the alleged shooter as 22-year-old Jared Loughner of Tucson, who was reportedly tackled by a bystander while trying to escape, but they have yet to divulge a motive for the shootings.

Giffords was targeted by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in this past November’s election, along with 19 other Democrats, because of her support for health care reform legislation. Giffords’ 8th Congressional District was circled with crosshairs on the Facebook Page of Palin’s PAC.

“We’ll aim for these races and many others,” the site read. “This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington.”

However, early profiles of Loughner, including excerpts from his MySpace page that has since been taken down, don’t necessarily point to political or racial motivations or any anger over immigration issues.