The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other 19 people was so horrific on so many levels that it became absolutely absorbing. The Safeway parking lot in Tucson where the shooting took place looked so familiar. This was a place that could be found in almost any suburb in America. This was an assassination attempt of the people’s representative on the town common.
Beginning with the media savvy local Police Chief through Sarah Palin’s 8 minute video posted at midnight Alaska time, the reporting has debated whether Arizona was somehow worse than other places. Assorted details of the shooting showed that it was in fact somewhat easier for the shooter to buy the weapon and the ammunition in Arizona than it would have been to have been in a comparable suburb in Montgomery County Maryland. But disturbed people can get guns everywhere.
On Thursday Rep. Giffords read the First Amendment on the House Floor. The post Tea Party election of 2010 encouraged the new Republican Congress to begin the new 112th Congress by reading the Constitution. Ironically, the event would likely have been a non-event were it not for a 3rd term moderate Democratic Congresswoman who read the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.
Of all of the members to have been given the privilege of reading that particular sentence in light of Saturday’s events, the video of her on the House floor talking about freedom of speech was startling.
That someone would seek to assassinate a Member of Congress standing in a shopping center talking to her constituents was an assault on the core of democratic society. American should be deeply offended by that alone. The question of whether partisan rhetoric may have contributed to the event seems secondary to the deep wound that the shooting may have inflicted.
Not unlike the way in which the necessary presence of the TSA at every airport has now changed the whole concept freedom in mobility, in the future. even an nine year old who goes to a shopping center to meet her Congresswoman will have the event moderated by an armed government representative.