On Jan. 8, 2011, we as a society were shocked and dismayed when 19 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic congresswoman from Arizona's 8th District, were shot during a public meeting outside a local supermarket. Six people were killed and Rep. Giffords suffered a near-fatal head wound. In the wake of this national tragedy, there seemed to be a clarion call to have an open dialogue about gun control, a thoughtful conversation about the way this country treats its mentally ill, and a long overdue discussion about the consequences of overly inflammatory political rhetoric.
Well, seeing as I haven't heard so much as a word about any of those topics in the past three months, I'm going to go ahead and assume that at some point we thoroughly explored those complex issues, resolved them, and are now living our lives based on the lessons we learned from the in-depth conversations I assume we had.
After all, if the crucial, imperative questions raised by this shooting—and there were many—hadn't been satisfactorily answered, we'd still be discussing them, right? The violence was far too brutal and the loss of life far too tragic for the American people to treat the Arizona shooting like any other news event that consumes the country for a brief moment and is then virtually forgotten. So let's just say that we handled the tragedy with the sophistication it deserved. Let's say that we heeded the call for national unity and are as united today as we were five months ago; that the unspeakable violence left an indelible impression on all of us; that Congress came together and is currently working diligently on landmark gun control legislation; and that we are now living in a new era of mutual understanding. Can we do that?
If so, that would be great. Because after all, if we had just brushed aside the life-altering assassination attempt of a congresswoman, as well as the death of a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl without seizing the opportunity to address our nation's glaring problems, then all the shooting victims would have died in vain, and all 300 million of us would be irresponsible, superficial hypocrites with the attention spans of newborns.
That is why I am going to go ahead and say that we gave ourselves a good hard look in the mirror and opened up a desperately needed national dialogue on the legality of guns with 30-round magazine clips. We also had, I'm sure, a productive discussion as to whether or not states allocate enough money toward the identification and treatment of the mentally ill. I wasn't present for either of these dialogues and I never really saw or heard anyone engage in them, but I'm sure they happened. They must have. These questions were far too important to ignore and we, as responsible citizenry, completely understood that, let's just say.
After all, Jared Lee Loughner, whose name I'm going to assume readers of this editorial didn't forget because he was at the epicenter of every single news story for two straight weeks, opened fire on innocent U.S. citizens who were simply taking part in the democratic process. Husbands were widowed, parents lost their children, senior citizens were murdered. This shocking event ripped at the very fabric of our country, and instead of just forgetting about it when the news vans packed up and left, honest discussions about the consequences of deceitful political rhetoric that deliberately preys on people's fears persisted. Further, a responsible conclusion was reached, and our nation's leaders agreed that this kind of inciting, sinister language would stop forever.
That's what we should all agree happened. Please.
We should also just agree that members of Congress sat together at the State of the Union address after the shooting, not just as a publicity stunt, but as a true display of unity that I'm going to assume continues to this very day as they work together on deficit reduction, clean energy, and the economy. And I am willing to bet that, although I don't remember this happening, President Obama gave a rousing speech about gun control even though he knew it wasn't politically viable to do so. Because in a situation such as this, what probably happened was that someone as thoughtful as our president realized politics as usual should be thrown out the window.
And let's not forget Ms. Giffords herself. With all the media attention centered on her recovery, people haven't forgotten, I'm sure, why she is recovering in the first place. There was a deep, festering problem in this country that exploded on Jan. 8, a problem that involved not just political discord, but a growing distrust for our political leaders that had been propagated by irresponsible media personalities and by elected officials themselves. Throw in race, the lagging economy, and an overall feeling of national disunity, and you have a complex situation that desperately needed to be resolved.
For Gabrielle Gifford's sake, let's just assume that it was, okay?
So, yeah. It was. Good.