Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gabby Giffords Spoke and Some of Us Listened

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords appeared at the Senate judiciary hearing on gun violence yesterday to try and convince lawmakers that we have a major problem with guns in this country and gun control must be addressed.  This is what she said, in its entirety:
"Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats, and Republicans.  Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying - too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be Courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you."
 Seventy two words.  Most people could say what Gabby said in about 30 seconds (I timed myself doing it.  Thirty two seconds.)  But because Gabby was shot in the head two years ago in Tucson by an assassin who killed six people, including a Federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, and injured 16 others, giving that 72-word speech required hours of rehearsal so that every word would come out exactly the way she hoped it would. 

This is how Gabby looked and sounded when she spoke at that hearing. 

I watched that video at least eight times yesterday and I'll watch it again and again, and then again.  I wish I could tell Gabby that it doesn't matter if Wayne LaPierre, the NRA, or the committee members planning to vote against any new gun laws were moved by her words and her efforts to speak them.  What matters is that she did it. It was hard but she did it, and she did it for us. Not for them.

She showed us what courage is all about, but beyond that, she reminded us of the realities behind a single act of gun violence--the long haul to recover, the probability that full recovery is not possible, the willingness to overcome the nightmarish horror and the anguished aftermath and move on.

I put her words and her video on my page not simply because I admire her so completely--I do--but to remind me that the way we fight for something as obvious as universal background checks and total banning of assault weapons is to never claim victimhood.

We just get out there and work to get this thing fixed.

Because NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, also invited to testify at the hearing, is neither a victim nor a hero.  He is a paid shill for an industry that pushes its weight around in order to keep producing and selling military-style weapons designed solely to kill or maim human beings.

And because the millions of pawns who follow the NRA and help to spread the lies about Second Amendment protections need to see what courage in the face of that kind of opposition to common sense gun laws looks like.