Downrange: February 2011
The Tragedy in Arizona
First things first: I hope Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—and everyone else wounded in the Tucson Safeway shooting—makes a full recovery. It’s tragic that she was shot while doing exactly what elected officials should be doing—making herself available to the people she serves in Arizona’s District 8. And, of course, we mourn the six people murdered in early January, government employees and otherwise: U.S. District Judge John Roll, Dorothy Murray, Dorwin Stoddard, 9-year-old Christina Green, Phyllis Scheck, and Gabe Zimmerman. Paying them proper respect, and supporting the wounded, should be the sole focus of civil people.
If it were up to me, I would stop writing here, and not pursue the unpleasant effects this incident has already had on the topic of gun rights. However, if we allow our opponents to take the field unchallenged, they will use this tragedy to strip us of our rights. The Brady miscreants are already standing on the bodies of the dead and the wounded, saying the banners’ solutions—banning high-cap magazines, banning assault rifles, banning private transfers, banning gun ownership entirely, banning certain levels of protest—will make us safe.
If you think what I just wrote is overstatement, then let’s go to a source who advocates for those restrictions. Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, wrote on January 8, "We, as Americans, can and should do more to restore civility to our political discourse. And we can and should do more to address the easy access to high-powered guns that make it too easy for dangerous and irresponsible people to disrupt and destroy the lives of innocent Americans, and political leaders who are simply trying to serve their communities and our country."
He continued: "We also are deeply concerned about the heated political rhetoric that escalates debates and controversies, and sometimes makes it seem as if violence is an acceptable response to honest disagreements. Shortly after President Obama took office, the head of the NRA crowed that ‘the guys with the guns make the rules;’ participants in Congressional forums and Presidential events started carrying guns in public; and then, just last year a candidate for U.S. Senate said the citizens unhappy with elections results should consider exercising their ‘Second Amendment remedies,’ and Sarah Palin used gun ‘target’ metaphors encouraging voters to defeat Rep. Giffords and others."
Let me translate that for you: If you’re a gun owner, a member of a pro-Constitution political group, or someone who flies a yellow flag with a snake on it, you don’t have the right to demand, loudly, that the government stop interfering with your right to defend yourself against the crazies who roam the streets. Are such crazies really out there? Yes, and when you’re defenseless on the Virginia Tech campus, in a Luby’s cafeteria, or gathered with others in a Safeway parking lot, the nutjobs just keep shooting, and shooting, and shooting.
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