Gun-owner and shooting victim Gabby Giffords takes on pro-gun lobbyists

“We don't want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home,” Giffords says. Photo: Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband former astronaut Mark Kelly AP

CHICAGO, January 10, 2013 — Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who has been deeply affected by gun violence after being shot in the head, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have no intention of giving up their guns. They do, however, have every intention of combating the NRA when it comes to gun control.

It is refreshing to hear from people who understand the difference between denied rights and controlled rights.

Giffords and Kelly’s goals for their Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) are clear: “We don’t want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home. What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.”

Christina Green, 9 years old when killed AP

Do the majority of NRA members want such changes? If so, they need to speak up. A vocal minority in the organization is drowning them out.

If not, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) has a tough fight ahead of them. If Giffords and Kelly want to change the direction of the conversation, they’re going to have to shout louder than the extremists on both sides, since the Second Amendment right to bear arms is one of the most polarizing topics in society today.

The Second Amendment is where the extremists on the gun-owning side of the equation are the most vehement. The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution, and is often framed as “If you try to take mine away, you’re in for one hell of a fight.”

Alex Jones’ impassioned rant on Piers Morgan’s CNN show that “1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms!” wasn’t shocking for its message. It was shocking to see how quickly this particular gunowner lost the ability to stay calm in a safe, controlled environment.

On the other side, there are a few people around who still believe that guns should be banned outright. Most of those on the side of gun control know that this is neither practical nor feasible. Guns are not going to simply disappear.

ARS, as stated above, does not want to ban guns, believing that a balance needs to be found between individual rights and “regulation of a dangerous product.”

Would that balance include banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips? Perhaps.

But while this simply makes senses to those on one side of the debate, it does not to the other. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) told “NBC News,” “I’ve been a hunter all my life, and there’s no reason to have a magazine that holds 30 shells. Call it what it is: an assault magazine. And we don’t have any reason to assault anyone in our communities, in our neighborhoods.”

AR15, a preferred hunting gun for…

He was answered by Armed American Radio show host Mark Walters, “Who needs these? The answer is sports shooters. For example, if you were target shooting or practicing for an upcoming (shooting competition), it’s nice not to have to change magazines on a regular, continual basis.” It was also noted that AR15s with 30-round magazines are often used by ranchers to control coyote and prairie dog populations.

ARS might want to start their discussions by clarifying the difference between a “need” and a “want.”

Would banning certain guns and ammunition simply drive the market underground? Most likely. But it could also make it much more difficult to buy and sell such weaponry. If it can’t stop all the mass murders, it might stop one. Is that reason enough?

Some say the Second Amendment needs to be reconsidered in light of modern technological advances. The Founding Fathers never imagined high-capacity ammo clips. On the other side are those who say that if you’re going to reconsider the right to bear arms, why not reconsider the right to free speech?

…prairie dogs.

We already have.

Yes, you have the right to say anything you want, but you can only use certain words if you are of a certain race. The children who still start the school day with the pledge of allegiance may or may not include the phrase “under God,” but if your personal beliefs would have you say “under Allah,” you’d best not say it. Granted, neither of these examples is technically illegal, but they are situations where freedom of speech is not allowed. You are not allowed to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

On the subject of school, a recent push to have armed guards at schools is also divisive. Some say schools should be gun-free zones, while others say creating a false sense of security is naïve and that such school zones simply inform would-be killers that they will not face resistance.

Armed guards at schools only addresses part of the problem. The movie theater in Aurora, Col. was not a school. But a 6-year-old died there, too, along with 11 other people. The youngest victim of the shooting the day Gabrielle Giffords was injured was a little older. She was nine years old when she died with five other people.

The goals of Giffords’ and Kelly’s Americans for Responsible Solutions are two-fold, however. Not only do they “invite people from around the country to join a national conversation about gun violence prevention,” but they also aim — yes, aim; they are gun owners, after all — to “raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby” so that “legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby.” They are not out to destroy the NRA; they only want balance.

And they seek balance not only in legislative influence, but also in their search for a solution. Americans for Responsible Solutions recognizes that improvement in mental health care and enforcement of existing gun laws are both essential.

But the main issue they recognize is that we must do something. If we do nothing, again, then the next time innocent people are gunned down, we must add ourselves to the list of reasons “Why?” Are you prepared to have that blood on your hands?

While Julia Goralka does not own a gun, she grew up around several, including a Red Ryder BB gun. To contact her, see above.


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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

Contact Julia Goralka

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