But the big problem with the mocking argument put forth by Breitbart and the NRA (which did not return a call seeking comment) is that it misses the entire point of Giffords’ advocacy. She 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.
In other words, Giffords and others whose lives have been upended by gun violence are thinking about others, not themselves—they are exhibiting a form of political empathy. It’s a concept that is apparently foreign to the NRA—which would help explain why the organization thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to casually taunt a victim of gun violence who is still trying mightily to recover from her near-death experience.
Clint Smith is a teacher, writer, and doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University studying incarceration, education,… More