On Saturday, January 8th, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in the process of holding her very first “Congress on the Corner,” by gathering her constituents together to voice their opinions – to “stop by and let me know what’s on your mind,” was the message she had sent out. This is guaranteed by the United States First Amendment to the Constitution – the right of Americans to peaceably assemble and petition their government. On that day, that little corner of the local Safeway grocery store was her workplace, just as her other workplace is in Washington, D.C.
The day presented an unimaginable tragedy for Representative Giffords, when a 22-year old man “at war with normal” (according to Time Magazine) shot her in the head, and fired 30 more rounds from a Glock semi-automatic pistol into the crowd. Six persons among the 19 people he shot died. Many of the injured are still in the hospital. There were many heroes who contained the shooter, and rushed to aid the wounded following this terrible act.
This young man had asked Representative Giffords a rather senseless question back at a gathering in 2007, and since that time, he had harbored a resentment of her, because she did not answer his question. Around the time he turned 20, he began to exhibit bizarre thinking and belief systems. He was unable to enlist in the military, but he was able to purchase a gun. During the time he was a student at Pima Community College, there were 51 pages of police reports of his erratic behavior, (as reported by police this past Wednesday). He was expelled from school, and told he could not re-enter until he had a mental examination. Now while he sits in jail, there will be much debate on the how’s and why’s this happened, not only about him, but all the others out there who are “at war with normal.”
We have talked about workplace violence many times, and what employers can do to control something before it happens. This is a huge task for any employer. It’s certainly an even bigger one for our government. We want to live in a world that is kind and gentle, but it seems it is one where troublemakers have more rights than those who go about their business every day, living normal lives.
What can we do about this? One thing is to send letters or emails to our congressmen and congresswomen, and let them know when we don’t agree what’s going on. Hurting and killing innocent people is not the answer. It may seem that the lawmakers aren’t listening, and if they aren’t, they should. We all have to start thinking about: (1) gun control, (2) who is responsible to stop disruptive behavior at school or work, (3) who is paying attention, and (4) finding answers to the hundreds of other questions that are going through our minds right now.
One thing needs to be addressed, and that is the First Amendment right to gather peaceably, with peaceably being the key word. This was not a peaceful event. Last, it is our own responsibility to be more aware of our surroundings. If you work with someone who acts in irrational ways, report it to your supervisor. People don’t want to get involved, but the possibility of devastating results later on, with people being hurt or killed may exist. We can’t know what is going through another person’s mind, or what their problems are. In school, students should watch and report to their teacher or counselor other students that they feel are not behaving normally. Sometimes teens will say one of their friends made threatening statements; however, they felt they weren’t sincere. They should tell their parents, just in case. We can never be too careful. If there is anything each of us can do that could possibly save the lives of others, don’t hesitate to take some kind of action. Tell someone who hopefully will pay attention and investigate the problem in time to prevent tragedy.
We pray that the injured persons will all fully recover from this terrible event. Every one present at that little meeting will never forget that day, nor will the people of America.