Typing those words makes my fingers numb.
Being hunkered down in my home in southern California, I had never heard of Rep. Giffords before today. And now I may never forget her.
Apart from the details of the shooting, the shooter's possible motives and mental state, everyone is now lit up with talk about the "vitriolic political atmosphere" that has been growing on this country like mildew in my shower ever since we elected President Obama. Currently, I'm watching the array of fingers that are out and pointing, hoping that in time, some of the fingers might turn and face their owners.
I'm sure the gun shop who sold the gun will shrug and say, "He passed the tests. It's not our fault he used the gun to shoot a 9-year old girl."
The politicos who have used violent rhetoric to stir up their followers will say, "When I said we need to keep these people in our crosshairs, I never meant to hunt them down. I was just using the image to make a point."
Then everyone will agree that some people use guns safely and some people understand language correctly and no one can control these nutcases anyway, so why change things?
I'd like to suggest that we need to try. We need to step up to the plate, own our actions and our words and commit to making this country a safe place to be who you are and express yourself without fear of violence or reprisal. I'm saying this for all groups, all parties, everyone. It's time to get along.
So maybe it's time for people to say, "I'm sorry. Maybe I was misunderstood. Maybe we let someone slip through the cracks. Definitely, we should try harder." Perhaps the politicians who are using violent images in their speeches could offer us a couple of words that say, "I'm so sorry that this crazy person took my words literally. I'm going to change the way I say things from now on." And no, you can't stop unbalanced people from hanging around your group, but you can let them know they are not welcome if they bring a sword to the table; only olive branches are accepted. Stop feeding them the words that stoke their craziness.
It's a common fact that most people respond better to "I" statements than "you" statements. No one wants to hear, "You're wrong about x
And perhaps gun purchases should also be dependent upon some proof of sanity. Just saying.