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Congressional reps reassess personal security

January 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The Tucson shooting has lawmakers all over the United States re-thinking security and how they plan to meet with the public.President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama led a moment of silence Monday at the White House at the time of Saturday's Arizona shooting.

Security has been increased to the point where even those who left the Capitol for the moment were checked twice for identification.

The president called for the country to come together for those killed and those fighting to recover.

It brought back grim memories for California Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo). Thirty-two years ago she was shot five times in Jonestown, Guyana. She was an aide to Congressman Leo Ryan, who was assassinated by followers of Jim Jones as part of the Jonestown massacre.

The shootings in Tucson are not going to change Speier's life, despite her personal experiences.

"I'm not going to ask for police at appearances," said Speier. "I'll let them do their own assessment, and if they think the situation warrants it, I'm not going to try and outthink law enforcement."

She admits the Arizona shooting has already had an effect on members of her staff.

"It's really an assault on our democracy," said Speier. "I am very fearful about the repercussions because, I said to a staff member over the weekend who has young children, 'Will you bring your kids to the next town hall that I have?' And she said probably not."

Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Thousand Oaks) said in a telephone interview the shootings do encourage anybody out there to have their five minutes of fame. He said: "Your life has to go on. Threats in our business become too much of a way of doing business. There aren't any perfect answers."

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) was a prosecutor before going to Washington. He points out that the unprovoked attacks are all too common, from daycare centers to post offices and now congressional meetings.

"No part of society is immune from this kind of random, senseless violence, but we can't let it interfere with how we do our jobs," said Schiff. "To be a representative means being out there in the public close to your constituents."

There are a couple of congressional representatives who say they will arm themselves. But most seem to agree they can't stop meeting their constituents, they can't stop going out in public, and they refuse to live in fear.