Response to Gabrielle Gifford's Resignation
Respect and Rage
I watched member of Congress Debbie Wasserman-Shultz on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, read Gabrielle Giffords' letter of resignation and had three quick reactions. First, I cried - a lot. Second, I knew she'd done the right thing for herself and her constituents in resigning, giving herself time to heal as fully as possible without distractions, and giving the people of her district in Arizona the chance to be represented by someone as decent and hardworking as she, but available 100% of the time.
Third, however, my reaction was rage. My anger was focused in three directions. 1) I'm angry that a deranged person can get weapons and use them so easily to hurt or destroy others - in this case, kill six persons, including a 9 year old girl, and badly wound another. 2) I'm furious with irresponsible political talk, including from many of those who served side-by-side with Giffords, who indirectly spew bitterness and hatred against others and thereby tacitly give approval to violent actions (ala, the killing of doctors who provide abortions as well as demeaning or attacking people of racial or cultural backgrounds by presenting them as being 'less American' or 'less human' or 'less deserving' or 'evil'). 3) I'm angry at the NRA, it's members and especially its leaders, who will not lift a finger or say a single word in favor of sensible control of firearms under the guises of self-protection, patriotism and hunting (who needs an AKA-47 to hunt deer or pheasants, or a machine gun for target practice?)
We've had a string of killings in the U.S. over the past fifty years - JFK, RFK, MLK, Harvey Milk, Dr. Tiller - and they're only a few of the many public recognizable figures who've been gunned down. How about the countless (and nameless, to most) numbers of spouses, children, neighbors, and victims of campus shootings and home robberies?
Passing laws that allow students and faculty on campuses to carry weapons to class, giving Texans the right to vote if they have a gun permit but not if they have a student I.D., and continuing to allow gun show vendors to sell all weapons at will with no background checks or waiting periods are not responsible answers to the growing violence in our land.
If sensible controls were in place, murders will still be committed and, yes, guns would still be stolen or bought on the sly and sent over state lines, but at least some of those murders might be solved because the weapons used are traceable, and in more than a few instances people might not have as easy an access to that gun in the first place or might think twice before using it if they knew they could be located and punished under the law.
Let Gabby Giffords be the last American, well- or little-known, to suffer for our collective failure to act. Put a limit to the number of rounds in a clip, for starters. Require gun shows to do background checks, and reinstate the ban on large-sized automatic weapons. Those might be reasonable laws for Gabby Giffords' replacement to suggest, along with others in the northeast who've been advocating similar approaches for years.
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