Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was nearly killed from a gunshot wound sustained during an attack in 2011, returned to Capitol Hill this week in order to talk to lawmakers about expanding background checks for gun purchases.
And while opposition to expansion of background checks for gun purchases from the National Rifle Association (NRA) would certainly be expected, it was still shocking that the NRA would take a metaphorical shot at Giffords and her experience directly, but that’s exactly what the organization did over Twitter.
“Gabby Giffords: Everyone Should Have to Pass Background Check My Attacker Passed.”
The tweet also included a link to an article from Breitbart, a right-wing website, which stated that Jared Loughner, the man responsible for shooting Giffords, as well as killing six people and wounding 18 more, had passed a background check before purchasing the gun he used. That does seem to be true — not only did Loughner pass a background check, but mass shooter Adam Lanza, who was responsible for the heartbreaking tragedy at Sandy Hook, would not have been stopped by stricter background checks, either, as he took his weapons from his mother.
But many believe that the NRA is missing the actual point behind Giffords’ mission to make stricter background checks a priority in the United States. It is not that she believes that a background check would have saved her in particular, but that it may save others.
Slate writer Alec MacGillis summed up why Giffords, who would not have been saved by a stricter background check, still pushes for it.
“[Gabrielle Giffords] is not devoting herself to the cause of expanding background checks because that measure would have stopped Loughner, but because that measure is the one that police and criminal justice experts believe would have the biggest impact on reducing gun violence overall. The same was true of the families of the victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre: Universal background checks would not have stopped Adam Lanza, who got his guns from his mother, but the families wanted to push for whatever reform would limit shooting deaths, period. Making it harder for people with criminal records, histories of domestic violence, and adjudications for mental illness to obtain guns is one of the best measures at our disposal to do so.”
The changes Giffords seeks are not radical, but simply include an expansion of background checks to cover deals made at gun shows, where background checks are often not needed, as well as expanding checks to online gun purchases.
Rep. Kathleen Rice, who has co-sponsored the Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015, had harsh words for the NRA’s tweet.
“The NRA’s brazen response is as predictable as it is pathetic. Any time someone steps up to offer common-sense solutions to prevent gun violence, extremists call it an attack on the Second Amendment, but any reasonable person can see that for what it is: blatant fear-mongering and desperate intimidation.”
Considering the entire legislature is controlled by Republicans, the chances of passing any restrictions on gun ownership or gun purchasing is very minimal, which makes the NRA’s direct insult to Giffords even more unreasonable.
Giffords, who is still struggling with brain damage after being shot, has said that her injuries make talking difficult for her — but she hasn’t let that stop her crusade for more comprehensive gun laws. On Wednesday, she made her voice heard.
“Stopping gun violence takes courage. Now is the time to come together. We must never stop fighting.”
Giffords has declined to make any comments about the NRA’s tweet directed at her.
What do you think? Do you support expanding background checks for gun purchases to trade shows and online dealers? And even if you don’t, do you think the NRA’s tweet referencing Giffords’ gun shot trauma was appropriate?
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[Photo credit Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]