Gabby Giffords' gun control opinion piece in the New York Times

Topic of the Day

Gabby Giffords' gun control opinion piece in the New York Times

Posted: Updated:

(New York Times)- SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we're going to hear: vague platitudes like "tough vote" and "complicated issue." I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I'm furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You've lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators' e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I'm asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You've disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

People have told me that I'm courageous, but I have seen greater courage. Gabe Zimmerman, my friend and staff member in whose honor we dedicated a room in the United States Capitol this week, saw me shot in the head and saw the shooter turn his gunfire on others. Gabe ran toward me as I lay bleeding. Toward gunfire. And then the gunman shot him, and then Gabe died. His body lay on the pavement in front of the Safeway for hours.

I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job.

They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.

They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest. I say misplaced, because to preserve their dignity and their legacy, they should have heeded the voices of their constituents. They should have honored the legacy of the thousands of victims of gun violence and their families, who have begged for action, not because it would bring their loved ones back, but so that others might be spared their agony.

This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I've always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy's history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list.

Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities' interests ahead of the gun lobby's. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.

Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic representative from Arizona from 2007 to 2012, is a founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, which focuses on gun violence.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page

KSWT-TV Affiliates

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man on I-5 overpass causes huge East LA backups

    Man on I-5 overpass causes huge East LA backups

    A man on an overpass has brought the hours-long shutdown of a major freeway, causing massive traffic backups through the east side of Los Angeles during Friday rush hour.More >>
    A man on an overpass has brought the hours-long shutdown of a major freeway, causing massive traffic backups through the east side of Los Angeles during Friday rush hour.More >>
  • Mercury rising

    Mercury rising

    Living in the southwest, warm temps are just part of life; but, lately as the mercury begins to rise it has proven to be too much for some. Emergency crews have been called out fordehydrations calls and area utilities have recorded larger than normal power uses. Some companies have opened their doors offering passer by’s a cool zone and even the Salvation Army has scoured the city looking for people in aide to help them get hydrated and get some shelter from the sun.More >>
    Living in the southwest, warm temps are just part of life; but, lately as the mercury begins to rise it has proven to be too much for some. Emergency crews have been called out fordehydrations calls and area utilities have recorded larger than normal power uses. Some companies have opened their doors offering passer by’s a cool zone and even the Salvation Army has scoured the city looking for people in aide to help them get hydrated and get some shelter from the sun.More >>
  • Yuma to Hold Back to School Rodeo Saturday

    Yuma to Hold Back to School Rodeo Saturday

    Yuma, AZ - The City of Yuma invites the community the Inaugural Back To School Rodeo, Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Civic Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive The Back to School Rodeo is aMore >>
    The City of Yuma invites the community the Inaugural Back To School Rodeo, Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Civic Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive. The Back to School Rodeo is a free event that will bring more than 50 community organizations under one roof to provide a one-stop destination for area children's educational needs. Organizers say it is designed for grades K-8. More >>
  • Border wars: Drop in apprehensions

    Border wars: Drop in apprehensions

    In Border Wars news the Yuma Sector has become the proverbial diamond in the rough when it comes to border security. According to the latest numbers from the Department of Homeland Security Yuma Sector has reported a record drop in apprehensions compared to apprehensions a decade ago. According to the latest stats apprehensions dropped 96 percent since 2005. Back then the Yuma Sector apprehended 138,438 people; during fiscal year 2013 they apprehended just 6,105. Many factors can be taken int...More >>
    In Border Wars news the Yuma Sector has become the proverbial diamond in the rough when it comes to border security. According to the latest numbers from the Department of Homeland Security Yuma Sector has reported a record drop in apprehensions compared to apprehensions a decade ago. According to the latest stats apprehensions dropped 96 percent since 2005. Back then the Yuma Sector apprehended 138,438 people; during fiscal year 2013 they apprehended just 6,105. Many factors can be taken int...More >>
  • Father beats accused child abuser, Daytona police say

    Father beats accused child abuser, Daytona police say

    Police say a Daytona Beach father beat an 18-year-old man unconscious after finding him sexually abusing his son. Authorities say the father called 911 early Friday after he walked in on the alleged abuse.Frolander motionless on the living room floor. He had several knots on his face and was bleeding from the mouth. Police said the father -- who was not identified -- told investigators he walked in as Frolander was abusing the boy. Police did not release the boy's age, but Frolander is charge...More >>
    Police say a Daytona Beach father beat an 18-year-old man unconscious after finding him sexually abusing his son. Authorities say the father called 911 early Friday after he walked in on the alleged abuse.Frolander motionless on the living room floor. He had several knots on his face and was bleeding from the mouth. Police said the father -- who was not identified -- told investigators he walked in as Frolander was abusing the boy. Police did not release the boy's age, but Frolander is charge...More >>
  • Police still investigating after burglar killed

    Police still investigating after burglar killed

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:32 PM EDT2014-07-26 01:32:57 GMT
    An 80-year-old man who came home to find two burglars said he shot and killed one of them despite her pleas that she was pregnant, but it's the woman's alleged accomplice who has been arrested on suspicion...More >>
    Prosecutors Friday were waiting for the results of a police investigation into the killing of a burglar by an 80-year-old California homeowner who says he shot the woman in the back as she fled his home and ran down an...More >>
  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Yuma

    Man tries to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into U.S. from Mexico

    Man tries to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into U.S. from Mexico

    ANDRADE, Calif. (13 On Your Side) - A Yuma man is busted for trying to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into the United States from Mexico. Customs and Border Protection officers discoveredMore >>
    A Yuma man is busted for trying to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into the United States from Mexico.More >>