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Doctors at the University of Arizona Medical Center just gave a press conference on the condition of the mass shooting victims in Tucson, and said that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is "breathing on her own" after being shot in the head.

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The mass shootings in Arizona over the weekend that killed six and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) in critical condition after being shot in the head hardly marks the first time the state has been under scrutiny for its tense political atmosphere and somewhat off-the-rails policies. In April, TPM took a microscope to the state in the wake of its incredibly controversial immigration policy.

So it's time to ask again, what's the matter with Arizona?

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In an appearance on Good Morning America today, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) pushed back against assertions that violent political rhetoric was to blame for the weekend shooting rampage in Arizona, which left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) hospitalized in critical condition after being shot in the head. But Pawlenty said politicians must still be mindful that their words can potentially be misconstrued as incitement.

"There's no reason to believe, at this point, that there's any motivating factor tied to a particular politician or a particular show or a particular act. It appears to be the rage of a mentally unstable person, and sometimes they do irrational and senseless things," Pawlenty said. "Let's make sure before we make judgments or sweeping condemnations that we have all the facts up."

When asked specifically about Sarah Palin--who has been widely criticized for her PAC's map that used gun sights to target the districts of Democratic congressmen, including Giffords, who she hoped to oust in 2010--Pawlenty said there was no reason to believe that the map inspired the Tucson shootings, but that he would have been more tactful when launching a similar campaign.

"It wouldn't have been my style to put the crosshairs on there," Pawlenty said. "But again there's no evidence to suggest that that had anything to do with this mentally unstable person's rage and senseless acts."

Pawlenty had previously made similar comments to the New York Times.

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In the wake of the mass shooting in Arizona over the weekend that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords hospitalized in critical condition, Jon Stewart last night traded quick quips for a warning: "I would love to say that we've got a great show for you tonight; not sure that's the case."

"How do you make sense of these types of senseless situations?" Stewart asked. Both sides of the political aisle are trying to exonerate themselves from blame, or implicate the other side, he said.

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Here's Luke O'Dell, Director of Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights writing in AmmoLand yesterday.

ATF purchase tracking. United Nations' Small Arms Treaty gun ban. Defining gun owners as domestic terrorists.

These are just a few of the threats facing our right to keep and bear arms in the 112th Congress.

Among the new batch of freshly-minted Congressmen, Cory Gardner of Colorado's 4th District is a true advocate for our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.


Gun owners really are an endangered species in America.

TUCSON, AZ -- Arizona's answer to the deadly shooting at a constituent event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) Saturday will likely be more guns at political rallies, not less. That's the word from Democrats and Republicans in this mourning desert city still reeling from this weekend's mass shooting that left six dead and 14 injured, including Giffords, who remains in critical condition after being shot in the head.

Simply put, local politicians say, Arizona loves guns. And that means that there's little or no chance that curbing their purchase or availability will be one the political agenda for the foreseeable future.

Despite a renewed national call for new firearms regulation following the shooting, the best gun control-supporting Arizonans can hope for is a slower pace in Arizona's continuing march toward looser gun control laws.

"That's not going to happen in Arizona," state Rep. Daniel Patterson (D-Tucson) told me in an interview last night when I asked about gun control. "The more likely response is we're going to have to think about having more armed guards at [political] events."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: On The Ground In Arizona: TPM Retraces Shooting Suspect's Steps ]

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Randy and Amy Loughner, the parents of accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner, haven't said anything publicly since their son allegedly took a Glock 19 with a high capacity clip to an event hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and killed six people and injured 14, including the congresswoman.

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Within hours of the shooting spree in Arizona, conservative blogs lit up with the news that the suspect, Jared Loughner, was an aficionado of Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. A Hitler/Marx devotee, the logic went, is someone too idiosyncratic or crazy to be part of any mainstream political movement. Some went further, and cited the information as proof that Loughner was the sort of big-government liberal they had nightmares about.

As with so many of these fast-propagating conservative memes, this one got its start on Fox News.

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In a CBS poll released this morning, almost 60% of Americans said they don't think strong political rhetoric is to blame for Saturday's shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that left six dead and wounded over a dozen others, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

In the poll, 57% of respondents said that intense political discourse had nothing to do with the attack, versus 32% who said that it was a contributing factor to the shooting. By political demographics, Republicans were less inclined to see a connection. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans said there was no connection, while 19% said it was in some way related. Among Democrats, 42% saw a connection between violent rhetoric and the weekend's events, compared to 49% who said the two were unrelated.

The results show that the general public largely disagrees with one of the early story lines to emerge from the tragedy--that a recent spike in violent political speech may have created an environment in which someone actually took violent action.

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