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Himes Committed to Meeting Public Despite Shooting

He wasn't wearing a bulletproof vest nor was he surrounded by bodyguards. Instead, when U.S. Rep Jim Himes came to Westport on Monday afternoon to talk to his constituents face-to-face in his first public appearance since the Saturday assassination attempt on an Arizona congresswoman, he said he will not live in fear.

"Of course, I know in the back of my mind there is the possibility someone might want to harm me or my family," Himes, a Greenwich Democrat, said during the brown bag luncheon at Town Hall with First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. "I'm so committed to this system—to this [type of meeting]— that I'm willing to run that risk. We can't function if we function in an environment of fear."

Westport police were stationed outside Town Hall, and Police Chief Al Fiore was among the audience members in Room 309.

On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords , a Democrat from Arizona, and 19 others were shot during a public appearance she held outside a Tucson grocery store. Giffords, 40, was shot in the head and remains in critical condition. Six people were killed.

In a statement after the shooting , Himes described Giffords as a caring and skilled legislator who has shown great willingness to meet her constituents and gather feedback.

Himes , who called the attack an "assault" on democracy, was asked by one of the 40-plus audience members whether he thinks security should be tighter at public appearances. While he acknowledged the fact that some audience members might be "a little nervous sitting here" and that some probably skipped the luncheon altogether, he said he doesn't want it to be impossible for constituents to interact with their representatives.

"I really hope we don't change this kind of format," Himes said referring to the luncheon. "I don't want you all to have to walk through a metal detector."

Himes added that he believes more security will not only make it harder to "represent people comfortably" but also that it will "create a distance between the government and the people."

Did you attend this brown bag luncheon? Did you feel safe? Do you think more security is needed at events such as this? Tell us what you think below.

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