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Giffords’ recovery going as anticipated

Tucson, Arizona (CNN) – Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery is “going as anticipated,” and doctors are seeing what they want to see so far, the hospital treating her said Wednesday.

Peter Rhee, chief of emergency medicine at University Medical Center in Tucson, said “none of the downward events have occurred at this time” in her recovery.

Doctors have decreased the amount of sedation they are giving her, and she is “becoming more and more spontaneous all the time,” Rhee added.

Of the six patients the hospital is still treating from Saturday’s shooting, Giffords is the only one in critical condition. Two others are in serious condition, the other three are in fair condition, Rhee said.

Authorities say Giffords was the target of Saturday’s shooting. Six people were killed, and 13 others – including the congresswoman – suffered gunshot wounds, the Pima Couty Sheriff said in a statement Tuesday night. Some other people were injured trying to flee the scene, the sheriff said.

Accused gunman Jared Lee Loughner, 22, is in custody.

Across the country, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday, lawmakers stood, one after another, to make remarks about the shooting. The comments preceded a vote on a resolution condemning the “horrific” rampage.

“Our hearts are broken but our spirit is not,” said House Speaker John Boehner. “This is a time for the House to lock our arms in prayer for the fallen and the wounded and resolve to carry on a democracy. We may not yet have all the final answers, but we have the answer that matters most: that we’re Americans and we’ll make it through this difficult period. We will have the last word.”

Lawmakers also had a scheduled briefing Wednesday to discuss their safety. “We’ll have leading members of the Capitol Police, the Secret Service and the FBI, we’ll explain to the members and the staff how we can work together with them and local law enforcement to provide an optimum amount of security,” Terrance Gainer, the U.S. Senate’s sergeant at arms, told CNN.

He emphasized that “the threat level, given the amount of interaction (constituents) have with these senators, is very low.”

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, prepared to attend a memorial for victims of the attack in Tucson.

He and first lady Michelle Obama also planned to visit with victims’ families at the University of Arizona in Tucson, according to a statement from the university. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi planned to travel with them, and an administration official said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also would attend.

Meanwhile, Arizona state lawmakers passed legislation Tuesday barring protesters at funerals from getting within 300 feet of services. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who visited the injured Tuesday, later signed the bill.

The action, according to Arizona House Republican spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, was in direct response to the controversial Westboro Baptist Church’s announcement that it would picket the funeral of 9-year-old victim Christina Green.

Green was one of six people killed in the shooting at Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a Tucson supermarket Saturday.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokeswoman for Westboro, told CNN that the church has decided not to protest at the girl’s funeral. She said her group made a deal with a radio host not to protest there in exchange for airtime. However, she said church members would protest at the funeral of U.S. District Judge John Roll and other victims on Friday.

Loughner, the accused gunman, allegedly carried a knapsack to the shopping center, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. He had a semiautomatic handgun, four ammunition magazines and a knife, according to the official.

The weapon was a Glock 19, with an extended magazine that held 31 rounds, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. A total of 31 spent rounds were recovered from the scene, the department said in its statement.

Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said Loughner was stopped by an officer for running a red light at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the shooting. He was given a verbal warning and released.

Loughner appeared in a Phoenix federal courtroom Monday to formally hear the charges against him – including two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of attempting to kill a member of Congress.

His parents said Tuesday they do not know why the shooting occurred and that they were “very sorry” for the loss felt by victims’ families.

“There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better. We don’t understand why this happened,” the family said in its statement. “It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss.”

Giffords’ Chief of Staff Pia Carusone, meanwhile, said the Giffords family is “very strong, very supportive. You know, she’s a young, healthy person who is not only physically strong, but mentally resilient and, you know, they’re rising to the occasion.”

Carusone added, “They’ve got a long road ahead of them, not just the physical recovery, but the tragedy that this community is having to absorb is — it’s monumental and it’s going to be … a difficult thing to get through.”

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