Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gabby Giffords' New Gun Violence Movement

In my article "Empathizing With Pro-Gun People", I noted that the paranoia toward gun regulation shown by many conservative gun owners is understandable. Gun violence activism needs to convincingly show itself not to hide an outspoken agenda of outlawing handguns outright. It must be constantly noted that hunters and other responsible gun owners ought to have well-controlled access to a reasonable number of non-assault firearms. Per the link above, to understand their skittishness, consider the level of assurance you'd need before you'd stomach the deliberation of reasonable abortion regulations.

It's not easy to cede ground after spending decades in a defensive crouch, even if one happens to agree with such proposals. Those who want to utterly revoke gun rights must be kept far away from any effort to regulate those rights.

Shortly after the Newtown shootings, I recommended the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But there's a new development. Courtesy of Andrew Tobias' blog:
Gabby Giffords, the terrific Tucson Congresswoman (and gun owner) who got shot in the head by a lunatic, and her terrific astronaut husband Mark Kelly (also a gun owner), have launched Americans for Responsible Solutions to help blunt the power of the NRA — most of whose members agree its positions are too extreme. If you think you might want to help, click the link to learn more.
I'm not sure Ms. Giffords is the best person for this effort. Yes, she's a gun-owner, and yes, she's a moderate Democrat who sought compromise with conservatives. And, yes, the country admires her tenaciousness. But I'm not sure this fight ought to be led by a Democrat. In the push-me/pull-you environment of modern American politics, her affiliation launches this particular pendulum with considerable momentum. I'd have loved to see this done by a breakaway group of disaffected NRA conservatives, but the fact that none have stepped up to the plate grieves me. It not only displays a lack of courageous initiative, but a lack of political imagination, because any conservative helming such an effort would quickly draw immense admiration from independents and find themselves positioned to lead a viable pragmatic conservative movement).

But I'm hoping Giffords' new organization can be effective, and will consider donating. Have a look at their mission statement.

P.S. - I was back in Newtown last week for the first time since the shootings. I was expecting a heavy, apocalyptic atmosphere, similar to NYC shortly after 9/11. But while the town's a bit subdued, it's also surprisingly normal. There are, no doubt, people still in profound shock and grief hidden out of view in their houses, but the mainstream seems to be moving on. People are a little softer and kinder (a fellow I know only moderately well shook my hand hello and goodbye with an intense heartfulness that would have seemed eerie under any other circumstances), but nobody's focusing on the catastrophe. Nor is it the five hundred pound gorilla in the room no one wants to talk about. Small towns are resilient; maybe even more so than large cities. Read Brian Schwartz's fantastic "A World of Villages" for a convincing argument that villages are where humanity does best (it's also a great read).

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