Mayor Vincent C. Gray and council members led D.C. government employees in a moment of silence in observance of the Arizona tragedy. Gray (D) also used the 11 a.m. event to address gun control and mental health.
In the atrium of the John A. Wilson Building, Gray recalled that city leaders refused to give up its gun control laws in return for a potential vote in Congress. "There are those who would have us strip away gun control laws in the District of Columbia," Gray said. "Here we see the consequences, sadly, of what can happen when people who never should be trusted with a gun have guns in their hands and just wreak havoc on others."
Gray, a one-time director of the city Department of Human Services, also said 22-year-old Jared Loughner, the alleged shooter, had "serious mental health problems." He said the shooting is a reminder that the city and other places across the country lack enough mental health services.
"Let us walk away with the lessons of this," Gray told the crowd of dozens of employees, after adding that such an incident can "intimidate" elected officials from participating in outreach such as Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's event Saturday.
"People elected us to be with the people. It is one of the aspects of the job I enjoy most," Gray said, adding that he would not shy away from public events.
Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) shared the same sentiment. "We serve the public because we love every single resident we represent," Brown said.
The Rev. Shelby Haggray led the crowd in prayer and a moment of silence.