Today marks the second anniversary of the Tucson, Arizona shooting that killed six people and left former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head. Is it the time to talk politics? Giffords certainly thinks so: today she and her husband, Mark Kelly, launched a political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, to raise money to support gun control.
"Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources," Giffords and Kelly explained in an op-ed published in USA Today. Giffords called out her former colleagues:
In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary - nothing at all.
This country is known for using its determination and ingenuity to solve problems, big and small. Wise policy has conquered disease, protected us from dangerous products and substances, and made transportation safer. But when it comes to protecting our communities from gun violence, we're not even trying - and for the worst of reasons.
The idea is that "legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby" if their PAC can "raise funds necessary to balance [their] influence." God knows we need that.
In Tucscon, City Councilman Steve Kozachik is also politicizing-celebrating (politicizating?) the day with a gun turn-in program for people who no longer want their weapons. Turn in your gun at the local police station and receive a $50 gift cards from Safeway - where, you may recall, Giffords was shot in the parking lot. Of course, gun-rights activists are displeased.
"They're stealing it - stealing it," Republican congressional wannabe Frank Antenori told the AP. "Can you name me one firearm in working condition that's worth $50 or less?"
Way to miss the point. He also, naturally, said Kozachik was desecrating the Tucson and Connecticut school shooting victims with the buyback's timing. Please. These initiatives are exactly what we need, and we need people who have witnessed gun violence firsthand to remind us, like Rep. Ron Barber, the former Giffords aide who was also shot that day and went on to replace Giffords in Congress. He wants to ban high-capacity magazines and also supports a new federal assault weapons ban, even though he knows there are still millions of both in circulation that we can't get rid of.
"There's no way that those are going to be taken or collected - there's no way that's possible," Barber said. "But if we can move forward toward controlling the accessibility or access to those magazines or assault rifles we can go a long way to minimizing or possibly preventing future tragedies."
Useless Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who was shockingly available for comment yesterday — she tends to disappear at critical times such as this one — offered no suggestions. "It will be something that I'm sure will be addressed in the Legislature and my ears are all open, and I'm certainly anxious if there is a solution that we get it done," she said.
See, this is why we need to politicizate (you're welcome) the anniversary of the Tucson shooting — and the anniversary of all the other gun massacres that haven't yet prompted the change they should have.