The manager of my half-way house for recovering alcoholics in the 1980s had a hole in his head and a patch on his right eye. When asked about his injury, he said that a policeman’s bullet had gone through the right side of his skull, passed through his brain and come out the other side. He had advanced on the officer in a drunken rage, holding a large butcher knife. When he got sober, my manager saw how lucky he was and he stopped drinking to live another kind of life.
When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords comes out of her hospital (God willing), just like the recovery home manager did, I hope she forms a political action committee against the National Rifle Association and its powerful lobby, just as Jim and Sarah Brady did in 1986 with the Brady Gun Control Act. Since then, the NRA has been successful in providing many “loopholes” that have become “shots in the head” of the American people, as gun violence has completely gotten out of hand.
For example, just as Ms. Giffords was preparing to exercise her First Amendment right to speak to her constituency in an open market, and hand out food to the poor people of Tucson, one mentally poor person, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, began to exercise his Second Amendment right by strolling up to the small group of politicos and civilians and opening up with a lethal weapon, a fourth-generation semiautomatic Glock 19, which can be purchased in any gun show (thanks to the NRA lobby), without any background check whatsoever. In fact, Tucson itself had just passed a local gun law that allowed people like Mr. Loughner to bring his gun into city parks and in public spaces where children play (like the nine-year-old who was killed). Arizona State has the same law; Tucson was just a little bit slow on implementing it, but the gunman wasn’t slow on his implementation of it. If they had a background check and waiting period, then authorities would have discovered that Loughner was indeed a risk. He had a record of mental problems at his community college and previous run-ins with the law, vis-a-vis, drugs. However, as we now know, that’s not what happened. He was able to legally purchase the hand gun on November 30, in a store near the scene of the crime. No background check. No impediment to him whatsoever.
Any physics student knows that someone with an automatic weapon in his or her hands can lethally kill other human beings, both accidentally and purposefully, in milliseconds, which makes the entire NRA argument about “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” completely specious. Certainly, if we lived in a perfect world, where myths became reality, and people did not have mental problems or passionate moments, then “perhaps” they would think twice before they pulled a trigger. Where is that world? It doesn’t exist in these times of terrorism and “rugged individualism” that produce nut jobs like Mr. Loughner and John Hinkley, Jr., as well as the hundreds of other “shooters” that make America the most violent country on the face of the planet.
Please, Ms. Giffords, may you be a living memorial to a movement that will gain speed–as fast as the bullet that entered your brain–so that we can at last see the writing on the wall. This “writing” must be federal legislation that provides restrictions and all gun sales so that adequate Brady Law prevention can be enforced and weapons such as Mr. Loughner’s can be kept from being sold at all. In fact, I would love to hear Congresswoman Giffords read a “new” Second Amendment that places restrictions on the so-called “rights” of civilian gun owners who would exercise their ability to speedily enforce their “will,” whatever that may be, on we the people.