Gabby Giffords urges Reichert and other members of Congress to resume town halls

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) attends a meeting with lawmakers May 1, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Giffords was on the Hill to discuss Congressional efforts to curb gun and domestic violence. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

SEATTLE – A day after Rep. Dave Reichert told Q13 News he quit holding town halls after Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona, Giffords issued a statement calling on members of Congress to resume holding town halls.

“To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage,” Giffords said Thursday morning. “Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”

Reichert and other members of Congress have recently faced increasing scrutiny for not holding town halls. On Thursday morning, dozens of protesters marched to Reichert’s office urging him to come out and speak to them.

On Wednesday, Reichert told Q13’s Matt Lorch that he decided to stop holding them out of concern for safety and because he found them to be counterproductive.

Giffords and 18 others were shot in an Arizona parking lot while she held a public meeting in 2011. Reichert said he and his staff have experienced stalking, threats and even assault.

“I think the majority of the people have legitimate concerns and fears,” Reichert said. “We want to hear those legitimate concerns and fears. But there, in my experience, is always a faction that will want to show up and create a scene and we’re going to avoid that.

“It would be irresponsible of me to put my staff and put my constituents in a situation that is unsafe.”

Giffords said that she has held more than 50 public events in the last year campaigning for gun safety.

“I was shot on a Saturday morning,” she said. “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.”

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