Close on the heels of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in which one shooter killed 20 children and six adults, we have the anniversary of the Tucson shooting. You may not remember the details. A shooting here… a shooting there… it is hard to keep track of them all.
This morning on the second anniversary of the Tucson mass shooting, Gabrielle Gifford, former Democratic U.S. Representative of Arizona, and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly wrote a guest editorial in USA Today. Given that Gabrielle Gifford was shot in the head during the Tuscon shooting, she and her husband have kept track of the numbers. Gabrielle Gifford wrote that since that time, “American has seen an astounding 11 mass shootings since a madman used a semiautomatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to shoot me and kill six others.”
I think that we have become inured to the killings. Trying to recall the mass killings is sort of like trying to remember the number of cookies we’ve eaten. We eat one after another; speaking for myself, I don’t remember how many cookies I ate yesterday. As I write this, I try to remember the details of the Aurora, Colorado, cinema shooting – it was in this morning’s news because I think the shooter has a court date – today or tomorrow, but, as an example of our remoteness, I cannot give you the details of the shooting without doing an Internet search. How sad is that?
The purpose of the Gifford/Kelly editorial was to remind readers of the number of mass killings and to launch a national campaign: Americans for Responsible Solutions. The campaign hopes to raise money to counter the influence of gun advocates in politics. The gun lobby (make that the National Rifle Association) is very well-financed and packs a wallop in Congress. Not many elected officials are willing to come out of the trenches and put their head above the parapet. To come out against the NRA would spell instant death for any elected official in their sights. It would take only one bullet . The Gifford/Kelly editorial began with “Congress has done something extraordinary – nothing at all.”
The debate over gun control will rage. Mud will be slung. Hopefully, no one will bring a gun.
I’ll let the NRA speak for itself. You can find the National Rifle home page at http://home.nra.org/#/nraorg. David Keene, president of the NRA speaks of the “intolerance of the political left,” and promises to come to the table with an open mind. We’ll see about that. If you look at the NRA homepage, you’ll leave with the impression that the NRA is not open to anything. That said, the leadership and the members may not be on the same page: some polls suggest that more than 60% of NRA membership is willing to talk.
Like most Americans, I am not against guns. Growing up of modest means in Upstate New York, I came from a family that lived off the land. If my dad didn’t shoot it, we didn’t eat meat. Venison, rabbit, squirrel, and fish (when the fish were biting) constituted the meat on our table. So I know about guns. I am not against gun membership.
I am, however, in favor of discussing gun control. I am in favor of funding Americans for Responsible Solutions – a voice that could have equal weight to that of the NRA. Congress needs to bite the bullet and throw caution to the wind. If Congress shows just a bit of bravery, who knows – the voters might respect Congress more.
A recent Poetry Foundation newsletter began with a William Carlos Williams poem:
It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there. From Asphodel, that Greeny Flower.
What was Williams saying?