Former Giffords intern on congressman's shooting: 'We can't normalize this'

State Representative Daniel Hernandez reacts to the Alexandria shooting scene and reflects on his recovery from the Gabby Giffords attack in Tucson.

PHOENIX – The shooting in Alexandria, Virginia that wounded Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise was the first attack of its kind against lawmakers since former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot outside a grocery store in Tucson in 2011.

Her then-intern, now-state representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Dist. 2), was credited for saving her life during that assassination attempt.

So, what’s Hernandez’s take on Wednesday’s shooting after living through a similar experience?

He and Giffords are both advocates for responsible gun ownership, but as of Wednesday afternoon, neither had made any statements that support their push for gun laws.

RELATED: Giffords reacts to congressman's shooting

"Immediately my thoughts were, 'What can we do to make sure these people are being taken care of and that they have everything that they need?’” said Hernandez.

Hernandez understands the support the victims in Wednesday's shooting will need.

"I remember being in the ambulance with Gabby and hearing on the radio that she was reported dead while I was sitting in the ambulance, holding her hand and talking to her,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez rejects the term "hero" from his work that day, but his unique perspective puts him in a place to see the victims as human.

"Those are things you are never going to be able to unsee,” he said. “I meet survivors who were in a shooting 10, 15, and some cases 20 years ago, who have frequent remembrances of what happened. It's very gritty, it's gory, and it's something that's very painful."

So he wants the public to avoid a trap after situations such as this.

"We cannot normalize this,” said Hernandez. “We can't just accept this as something that is fact. We need to expect more. We need to strive to be a part of the change.”

His former boss Giffords said in a statement "This shooting is an attack on all who serve and on all who participate in our democracy. I am heartbroken for the pain of Congressman Scalise, the other victims, and their family, friends, and colleagues who survived."

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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