Editorial: We won’t let Tucson break us

Published 9:48 pm Monday, January 10, 2011

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011

In an example of extreme contrast, where we all spent the weekend snowed into our homes, many businesses closed due to severe weather conditions, an entirely different drama unfolded in the dry lands of Tucson, Ariz.

But it was a dramatic event that, at the heart of it, will affect us all.

On what would have been a typical Saturday morning in the ordinary public venue at a small shopping plaza, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords-D-Ariz. and 19 others became unwitting victims when a young man opened fire on a crowd outside a Safeway grocery store.

Today, six people are dead and 14 wounded.

Giffords had been at the store as part of a weekend meeting with her constituents, not unlike when we see our own representatives here visit with members of their constituency at local restaurants and businesses. It would have been publicized. The public being the objective. As one reporter said over the weekend, Giffords would have been “extremely vulnerable” to such an unthinkable and rather unexpected act of violence.

The gunman, apprehended by police and just 22 years old, allegedly arrived at the event and shot the congresswoman in the head at point blank range.

There has been plenty of talk in the days since the new Congress officially went into session about the opposing views between parties on several relevant issues to all Americans, including immigration reform and health care reform.

Our government was founded on opposing views. It was kind of the point. Out of opposition comes a position. And like dominoes, one position on one issue leads to another and another, and so on and so forth, and through opposing party lines, a society decides for itself what it will and will not tolerate in all forms of its government and operation.

It was created to respond to and prevent chaos. It was targeted for order and yes, freedom and discussion. It was to create a place for the most innocent of American lives: the future.

But something is obviously wrong with us as a society when our opposing views lead to such extremes as the violence exhibited Saturday in Tucson.

Chaos erupted after the gunman opened fire. Maybe that was his point — to create chaos. Maybe the point was more targeted to one politician’s views. Maybe he thought he’d get his point across that way.

At the end of the day, Giffords rather miraculously lay in a hospital room, recovering from a bullet wound to the head. The extent of her injuries remains to be seen as she recovers.

But the point driven home lay not in the gunman’s hands but in his victims.

One in particular, a 9-year-old girl who had just been elected to her student council and wanted to learn more about politics and see our political process in action.

And she was not even old enough to vote.

If there’s anything we can do now in response to such an act, it is to stand behind our representatives despite their stance on our issues.

And stand up against such acts of violence in the name of every one of the victims of the Tucson shooting.