Jared Loughner, who pleaded guilty last year to the attempted assassination of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az.), was sentenced on Thursday to seven life terms, plus 140 years, without parole. The hearing was an opportunity for Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, to tell Loughner, “Gabby and I are done thinking about you.” But they are not done thinking about gun control, and Kelly also used the forum to make a powerful statement about the intractable politics surrounding this issue:
We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced. We have representatives who look at gun violence, not as a problem to solve, but as the white elephant in the room to ignore. As a nation we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora we have done nothing.
In this state we have elected officials so feckless in their leadership that they would say, as in the case of Governor Jan Brewer, “I don’t think it has anything to do with the size of the magazine or the caliber of the gun.” She went on and said, “Even if the shooter’s weapon had held fewer bullets, he’d have another gun, maybe. He could have three guns in his pocket” – she said this just one week after a high capacity magazine allowed you to kill six and wound 19 others, before being wrestled to the ground while attempting to reload. Or a state legislature that thought it appropriate to busy itself naming an official Arizona state gun just weeks after this tragedy occurred, instead of doing the work it was elected to do: encourage economic growth, help our returning veterans and fix our education system.
Meanwhile, even since the Aurora shooting July 20, there has been an endless string of mass shootings, the most recent of which was just this past Tuesday at a Fresno, Calif. chicken plant, where four were shot and two killed. And let’s not forget the regular old gun violence that in Chicago claimed 152 lives in two months, many of them teenagers.