Daily Local News - Moment of Silence for Victims; Gerlach Makes Appearance

News Article

Date: Jan. 10, 2011
Location: East Goshen

By Jennifer Miller
Staff Writer

Congressman Jim Gerlach, R-6th of West Pikeland, made his first public appearance Monday following the attempted assassination of Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords.

Gerlach attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Advanced Ideas Center for the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School in the 1500 block of Paoli Pike. Before the event began, the Daily Local News asked Gerlach if he was reluctant to attend the event following the weekend's violent event.

"No, not at all," he said. "But we are going to have to take a look at security issues, primarily at district offices and what we do in our communities."

Giffords and 18 other people were shot in the shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot point-blank in the head, and she remains in intensive care. Among the six people killed were Arizona's chief federal judge, a 9-year-old girl interested in government, and one of Giffords' aides.

Gerlach said his wife gave him the news on Saturday when he returned home from running errands. Gerlach said he immediately turned on the TV to watch news reports. He said his initial reaction was shock and he wondered who would commit such an act and why.

"I was obviously very stunned by the initial news and by the scope of the violence," Gerlach said.

Moving forward, Gerlach said Congress needs to look at policies "to make sure we're protecting our staffs."

In terms of gun laws and regulations, Gerlach said additional information regarding Saturday's event needs to be revealed before action should be taken.

"Nothing I've heard at this point would indicate a necessity to change the law," he said.

However, Gerlach said there are legitimate concerns among people regarding the mental state and criminal background of those who possess firearms. He also said much information indicates the shooter had a disturbed nature.

"There are questions we're going to have to answer at some point," Gerlach said. "The bottom line is we're going to have to see what the outcome of the investigation is."

He added, "We continue to pray for Gabby's continued recovery and our sympathies go out to the other shooting victims."

Before Monday's event began, school officials observed the 11 a.m. national moment of silence led by President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

"Before we begin our president has asked us to take a moment of silence for the tragedy in Tucson," said James Hanak, the school's CEO. "That's an all American tragedy. That could have happened anywhere at anytime. So let's pause for a moment of silence, please."