Posted by AzBlueMeanie
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News Sunday urging Congress to pass universal background check legislation. Gabby Giffords: Join the fight for safer U.S.:
We're all used to hearing people say that patience is a virtue.
I think about patience every day as I continue to regain my speech and the mobility I lost after I was shot in the head two years ago, while meeting with my constituents in the parking lot of grocery store in my district.
I think about patience and determination, because I still wake up every day wanting to make the world a better place.
But lately I’m not feeling too patient toward senators and representatives who are listening to the misinformation that’s out there about universal background checks instead of to their constituents, and saying they may not support common sense solutions to ending gun violence.
What are they waiting for? Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks, which will be debated soon. Seventy-four percent of NRA members support background checks. Seventy-two percent of hunters support background checks, the Bull Moose Society reported this week. I can’t remember a time when this many Americans spoke with such a united voice in favor of anything.
And yet, some leaders are suggesting they might not listen to our voices. They repeat old scare tactics, like that there will be a gun registry that could take our guns away from us. My husband Mark and I are gun owners, and we know that’s not true. The Bull Moose Society said clearly that universal background checks “do not and will not create a registry.”
What they will do is create one fair system for all gun buyers, instead of the giant loophole we have now. Right now, we have one system where responsible gun owners take a background check — my husband, Mark, took one just last month, and it took 5 minutes and 36 seconds. I remember waiting a lot longer than that for the subway to take me to my office when I lived in New York City! And then we have a second system for those who don’t want to take a background check. Those people — criminals, or people suffering from mental illness, like the young man who shot me — can buy as many guns as they want on the Internet or at a gun show, no questions asked.
That doesn’t make sense. We know how to fix it — by establishing a universal background check system. And yet some of our elected officials are not listening. Some even say this legislation shouldn’t get a vote in the United States Congress.
That’s not right. I served in Congress, and I know my colleagues know better. Passing background checks legislation will show the American people that we hear them — that we’re serious about helping them keep their families safer — and that we’re focused on solutions to this overwhelming problem of gun violence. I’ve heard some, like the NRA leadership, throw up their hands and say we should do nothing, because we know that no one thing will solve this problem overnight.
That doesn’t make any sense at all. Almost nothing is ever achieved overnight. If I had thought about that, I would still be sitting in a hospital bed. But I’m not. I’m working every day, on my own recovery and on my mission to make this country a safer place.
I had to learn to walk again. I had to learn to write and use my iPad with my left hand. I’m still working on regaining my speech; I work every day to get more words back.
Determination guides me every day. And we need to be determined too. Determined to pass background checks legislation — to make it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to get deadly weapons in the first place.
And we need to work on our mental health system, too — to help people stay healthy and get the help they need. And we need to address the issue of high-capacity magazines and military assault-style weapons — equipment designed to kill a lot of people in a short period of time.
We will only make big progress towards our goal of dramatically reducing gun violence when we have the determination to take bold steps, one after another, to keep our communities safer.
My recovery is living proof that taking one step after another yields big results. And I know that the parents and families of those 20 children killed in their classrooms in Newtown get up every day, knowing their children are gone, and have to take one step after another to keep going.
Passing background checks legislation will show the country that we are as strong and resilient and determined as our Founding Fathers hoped we would be — and that we are on the path to having a safer country with strong and honored Second Amendment rights.
A little girl, Christina Taylor-Green, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, had come to the supermarket to meet me that day two years ago. Christina was 9, and had just been elected to the student council at her school. I never got a chance to meet Christina, because she was killed in the hail of bullets that morning. But if I had, I would have told her the most important thing a politician can do is listen to the will of their constituents.
The will of the American people is clear, but our patience is wearing thin. Congress must not fail us. Congress must pass background checks now — to put us on the road to a safer country. Join me at www.americansforresponsiblesolutions.org to make your voice heard.
Gabrielle Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, was severly wounded in a Jan. 8, 2011, shooting in which six people were killed and more than 12 others were wounded.