Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona, guns and insanity

Before today, I had never heard of Gabrielle Giffords.

Her name meant nothing to me, and even if someone had told me she’s a congresswoman from Arizona, well, I probably would have nodded and moved on.

Tonight, however, Gabrielle Giffords means everything to me.

In case you just woke up from a 20-hour nap, Giffords, 40, had a bullet shot into her head this afternoon. It entered one side of her skull, burrowed through her brain and exited through the other side. As we speak, she is clinging to life at the University Medical Center in Tucson. I know nothing about neurosurgery. If she survives, however, I have a hard time imagining she’ll ever be the same.

Giffords was one of 18 people shot today at a Tucson supermarket. As of this entry, six are dead, including a United States District Court judge named John Roll. Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet with her constituents (known as “Congress on Your Corner”), when a gunman, identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, started shooting away. One of the dead was Christina Taylor Green, a third grader. She was 9.

She was 9.

Although Loughner’s motives remain officially unknown, few people in Arizona doubt that the murderous spree was related to the state’s heated debate on immigration, and Gov. Jan Brewer’s xenophobic proposals on the best way to round up illegals. Giffords was an outspoken critic of the anti-illegal movement, and as a result had faced past death threats and the smashing of her office windows. Giffords’ district office was evacuated late Saturday after a suspicious package was found.

As always happens when something like this takes place, in the ensuing days and weeks we will hear gun opponents bemoan the myriad opportunities to easily obtain weapons in this country. We will hear the NRA fight back with spewings like, “Just because one person misuses a gun doesn’t mean …”


This is not one person, and this has never been one person. Simply put, I am sick and tired and tired and sick of having gun-rights advocates scream and yell about the need for handguns, then being forced to watch as yet another horrible murder/crime/whatever takes place, then sitting through the maddening guns-don’t-hurt-people-people-hurt-people follow-up. I get hunting. I even get the desire for self-protection. But when are we going to wake up to the craziness of allowing people like Jared Lee Loughner a gun? When are we going to make it hard—and nearly impossible—for people to acquire weapons that kill? I hear all the arguments about “You need to be ready in case an intruder enters your home,” and I want to scream. Wanna know something—I don’t want a gun if an intruder enters my home. Because if I have a gun, and he has a gun, there’s shooting and someone (likely me or my family members) die. I’d much rather take the chance that he just wants money and goods, and will leave. Am I a coward? No, I’m sane, and I’m reasonable, and I’m not filled with the machismo bullshit that makes idiots puff out their chests as they purchase bullets by the crate.

Furthermore, we need to change the political climate in this country—now. Debate is wonderful. Wrestling with ideas is fantastic. But something dark has come upon us, and it is beyond troubling. Giffords won a very tight race in November against a Tea Party candidate named Jesse Kelly. During the campaign, his campaign featured the line: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” In March, Sarah Palin released a map, featuring the words IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND, with 20 gun sights, one for each of the Democrats targeted by her political action committee SarahPAC. Literally, Palin placed a gun sight by Giffords’ name. Unspeakably terrible taste. (Giffords responded at the time: “I’ve never seen anything like it. The thing is, the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”)

But this is where we are, who we are, and if we don’t change—soon—it’s not going to improve.

Alas, I digress. I feel so horrible for the families of the wounded and deceased, and I hope, somehow, we can honor what they’ve been through by doing something righteous for a change.

PS: Predictably, Palin released a statement, via friggin’ Facebook, saying her thoughts and prayers go out to the family. I beg of her—and others of her ilk—to use this to go through some serious introspection about the power of words and symbolism.

PPS: Here is a piece from the New York Times’ wedding section when Giffords married astronaut Mark Kelly.

PPPS: There’s nothing offensive about this image, right?

18 thoughts on “Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona, guns and insanity”

  1. Thanks for the rational voice Jeff. Great commentary. Thoughts and prayers to her family. To America, we are better than this.

  2. It is unfreakingbelievable that little Christina Taylor Green was born on 9/11/01. Born on a day of violence and then killed by violence. It is so heartbreaking.

  3. I will never own a gun. Ever. I’ve felt that way since I can remember. I can even concede to allowing hunting rifles and weapons for sport, but why do we let citizens carry concealable firearms that can be fired a dozen times without being reloaded? What good could come possibly from that? Why would someone ever need – NEED – to own a semi-automatic handgun?

    I’ve gotten into this argument soooooooooo many times and the answer always is, “It’s my right! It’s my right!” Try telling that to the mother of the 9-year-old girl who was killed yesterday.

    And exactly how many more people have to die for that right until it’s time for something to change? 1,000? 100,000? 1,000,000? I doubt the Founding Fathers were thinking about people like Jared Lee Loughner and Glock 9mms when they drafted the Bill of Rights.

  4. Once again Jeff…you nailed it. I hope someday we can become a nation at peace. Guns have no place in creating peace. How many innocent lives must we allow these maniacs to take? Soooo sad.

  5. I have a hard time understanding the love of guns.
    Whether it is used for right or wrong no tool other than a bomb has been responsible for so much death.
    This incident is a prime example.
    Also in the news has been the involuntary manslaughter trial of a man who organized a gun show.
    An 8 year old died because his Daddy insisted he be allowed to shoot an Uzi.
    Even when he was told the child was too young to handle the weapon, Dr. Charles Bizilj, insisted his son be allowed to fire the Uzi.
    The recoil caused the boy to shoot himself in the head.

    Sorry for my little rant, I am so sick of the pro gun sickos that have perverted the 2nd Amendment (1791):
    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    What militia? The Militia Act of 1792 spells it out:
    “That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia,…”

    It was the Selective Service – The Draft.
    You were required to report. You were required to have a gun.

    The Draft is gone, there is no need to arm ourselves to the teeth with non-hunting weapons.

    Insanity total insanity. And the children keep dying.

  6. Nice post, Jeff. You must’ve been really pissed off.

    However, even if he didn’t have a gun, Loughner could’ve still killed lots of people. He could’ve made a bomb. He could’ve drove his car into the crowd. He could’ve done lots of things.

    I should also mention that I never want to own a gun. For some reason, the idea doesn’t appeal to me. Bye.

  7. **gasp**

    Democrats have used a targeting map, too!

    And note the date – long before anyone ever heard of Sarah Palin.

    You should do a blog piece on hypocrisy – I guess it’s ok for Obama to say, “If they bring a knife, we’ll bring a gun”

    I guess it’s ok to preach caution after the Fort Hood Massacre, and ok to jump to blame political rhetoric over this tragedy…

    And people wonder why there is so much anger and vitriol out there…

    1. Dave, good post, good points. The target map you linked, however, is a far cry from Palin’s. A. No names. B. Not gun sights (a big difference). but you’re 100% on with the language. 100%.

  8. Thanks, Jeff.

    Like you, a lot of this stuff just makes me angry. So angry, I forgot the most important part of my comment.

    Forget blame – the fact is that there are families out there who are now devastated because they lost a loved one in such a shocking way with no apparent warning. Including someone who I’m sure you’ve had direct contact with. Someone who, today, is just a grandfather who lost his granddaughter.

  9. I cam to this site to read about sports not more leftwing lunacy that Sarah Palin is responsible for the AZ shootings. A batshit crazy asshole is responsible. Where was the left re the Ft. Hood shootings? “Let’s not jump to conclusions.” Unbelievable that leftwing loonies are so quick to blame a former US governor for an act of terrorism she had nothing to do with but cover for a Muslim nut job who kills 14 of his fellow enlisted people. This is why am a proud ex-democrat.

  10. Does anyone else think that after what happened to Gabrielle Giffords, that she will come out with the same beliefs again in politics and do the same kind of work? Or do you think that this incident will cause her to reconcile?

  11. If you liberals are so smart….please explain the frequently published and well-known quotes of Thomas Jefferson. Relate that to Hitler, Stalin and other dictators who tried to disarm their populace. History repeats itself my little naive liberals….wake up and smell the coffee!

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