More than five years after getting shot in the head at a constituent relations event, Gabby Giffords still struggles to speak – but that hasn t stopped her from using her voice to raise awareness about gun violence.
“On a bright winter morning more than five years ago, I was nearly murdered with a gun,” Giffords begins, recounting the day that a young man opened fire at a constituent meeting in Tucson, Arizona, injuring 13 and killing six.
“The bullet tore through the left side of my brain, an injury that is almost always fatal. Somehow, I survived,” she continues.
Giffords writes that she still struggles with speech and partial paralysis of her right arm and right leg. After her injuries forced her to give up her role in Congress, she says she and her husband Mark Kelly dedicated themselves to speaking out against gun violence following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook that killed 20 children. “It shocked us into action,” she says.
“Gun violence is a full-blown national crisis – one that, on an average day, claims 91 American lives, including seven children and teens,” she writes. “Our gun murder rate is 25 times higher than other countries like ours. And women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun here than in our peer countries.”
Giffords editorial comes just one day after a disgruntled former doctoral student killed his professor and himself in an engineering lab at UCLA. While some blame these types of events on “mental illness,” Giffords is not afraid to call out the lawmakers who she says have done little to change “bad laws that make it too easy for dangerous people, including felons, domestic abusers, and stalkers, to get their hands on guns.”
“At every turn, the gun lobby and the politicians it backs have fought to protect these loopholes,” she continues.
Because of this inaction, “this week, another 637 Americans will die from gun violence and another 1,450 will be injured,” she writes.
Giffords concludes with an appeal to the public to vote for politicians who will take actions to pass laws that can reduce gun violence.
“Let’s make sure that all of us – and all of our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors – demand that the people who are running to be our voice at every level of elected office lay out their plans for addressing our gun violence crisis,” she writes. “And let’s make where they stand on reducing gun violence a decisive factor in whether they get our vote or not.”
National Gun Violence Awareness Day was created in 2013, after teens on the south side of Chicago asked classmates to honor their friend who had been shot and killed, by wearing orange. It has since grown into a national movement with people wearing the color orange to remember gun violence victims and to help spread awareness.