Gabrielle GiffordsIn the weeks since the Newtown tragedy, it's seemed like everyone and their grandmother have had something to say about guns in America. But today it was Gabrielle Giffords who took her turn. The former Congresswoman shot in the head by a deranged gunman during a mass shooting in Arizona spoke from the heart in front of her former colleagues during the first congressional committee hearing on guns of 2013. 

This morning Gabrielle Giffords tried to turn the debate about guns and rights on its head. You see, for women like Gabrielle Giffords, whose speech still bears evidence of what gun violence did to her brain, this is not about the right to bear arms at all.

The current debate over guns is about the rights of Americans to live.

To live safely. To live without fear.

But more than that.

To live at all.

Speaking haltingly, Giffords noted that her injuries have made it hard for her to talk, but she came anyway, for the most important reason of all:

I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something ...

It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.

She's right. The 11,078 who die every year in America as the result of a firearm homicide are counting on Congress to do something. They're looking for Congress to consider that, yes, we have a right to bear arms, but we also have a right to live.

The 20 children of Sandy Hook Elementary School had a right to go home on the afternoon of December 14 and hug their parents and play with their toys. That right was taken from them by a man with a gun.

Gabrielle Giffords had a right as an American citizen to stand in a public place on a weekend in January in her home state of Arizona and walk out of there whole, safe, healthy. That right was taken from her by a man with a gun.

When are we going to start talking about their rights? When will we be bold and courageous?

 

Image via AP