"Gabby Giffords Gets Mean"? No, Not Really

Politico reporter Alex Isenstadt went hard after Gabby Giffords this morning, running a story about the drama behind the "Stalker Gap" ad her PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is currently running in the CD2 race.

Gabby Giffords, irreproachable figure of sympathy, has fashioned an improbable new role for herself this election year: ruthless attack dog.

The former Democratic congresswoman, whose recovery from a gunshot wound to the head captivated the country, has unleashed some of the nastiest ads of the campaign season, going after GOP candidates in Arizona and New Hampshire with attacks even some left-leaning commentators say go too far. And Republicans on the receiving end are largely helpless to hit back, knowing a fight with the much-admired survivor is not one they’re likely to win.

Some of the toughest spots from Giffords’ newly formed pro-gun-control super PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, hammer Republican Martha McSally, a retired Air Force pilot who is running for the Arizona seat Giffords once held.

Apparently, the reason Giffords is going after McSally has something to do with some sort of jealousy or protection of her image?

It’s no accident that Giffords is singling out McSally, people close to the former congresswoman say.
During her unsuccessful 2012 campaign, McSally ran TV commercials comparing herself to Giffords. The Giffords team fumed, and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, released a terse statement declaring, “Martha McSally is no Gabby Giffords.”

To be fair, Isenstadt isn't the only one clutching his pearls over this ad, since the Arizona Republic ran an editorial calling the ad "vile", "a nasty piece of work" and "demagoguery in heart-rending tones."

Here's the thing that this faux-outrage seems to ignore. Giffords, who had a worst-case scenario experience with guns, believes people shouldn't have as much access as they do to guns, especially the sort of person who killed Kara and Daniel Walker.

Keep in mind that Daniel Renwick, Kara Walker's ex-boyfriend and the man who murdered her and her father, had been arrested on suspicion of assault and child endangerment. That he told Walker "If you call the police, they’ll find your body in the desert and I will kill all your family.”

Apparently, the great crime of this campaign ad is to remind people that Martha McSally, despite her own personal experience with stalking (which is terrible and nothing she deserves to have dealt with) believes existing laws are enough.

And let's be absolutely clear: Martha McSally said in a 2012 debate that "any restrictions on that, at gun shows or other places, is just absolutely unconstitutional." On this year's campaign trail, she bragged about an endorsement and support from the NRA, saying that she's a "ten" on a scale of one to ten on supporting the Second Amendment.

[Interestingly, in the video linked above, McSally points out that the NRA is sitting out strong public campaigning on her behalf in CD2 because of "the sensitivities of the circumstances." Oh right, those.]

If it's "vile" or "nasty" to point this out using a real-world example of the consequences of her opinions, sorry, I guess? Gabrielle Giffords isn't above criticism, especially when she's choosing to wade into heated political arguments, but the idea that the ad is "mean" or as McSally claims "degrading to all women and victims who have experienced this pain," is absurd.

You know what I happen to find "vile"? That a mother and grandfather were murdered in front of a 14-month-old child by someone who openly said they would do it. And all the hurt feelings in the world aren't ever going to be a tragedy worse than that.

We, as a nation, have made concessions with our safety to preserve the rights of gun owners. And Martha McSally, like anyone else, has the right to believe that's the right decision to be made.

However, when people die at the hands of gun-owners (especially gun-owners who have had trouble with the law or who purchased their guns where background checks weren't needed), those who support those loopholes, like McSally, don't get to shrug their shoulders and avoid criticism. It doesn't work that way—or at least it shouldn't.