After a Republican congressman refused to hold town hall meetings, citing the shooting of former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, Giffords responded by saying: "Have some courage."
Giffords, who was severely wounded during a 2011 mass shooting that killed six people in Tucson, Arizona, released a statement that was published on the website for Americans for Responsible Solutions, a pro-gun control group started by Giffords:
Town halls and countless constituent meetings were a hallmark of my tenure in Congress It's how I was able to serve the people of southern Arizona. I believed that listening to my constituents was the most basic and core tenet of the job I was hired to do.
I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber -- at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead -- held town halls. It's what the people deserve in a representative.
Giffords comments were in response to Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who said in a statement that he is unable to hold town hall meetings because they might pose a danger to his safety.
"Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety," Gohmert said. "Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge. However, the House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed -- just as happened there."
In her statement, Giffords said she is still holding public meetings as a gun control advocate and urged members of Congress to face their constituents and hear their concerns.
"Many of the members of Congress who are refusing to hold town halls and listen to their constituents' concerns are the very same politicians that have opposed commonsense gun violence prevention policies and have allowed the Washington gun lobby to threaten the safety of law enforcement and everyday citizens in our schools, businesses, places of worship, airports, and movie theaters," she said.
Giffords added: "To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls."
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont echoed a similar sentiment to Giffords.
"If you don't have the guts to face your constituents, then you shouldn't be in the United States Congress," Sanders tweeted.