I don’t know if Governor Jan Brewer knows what “feckless” means, but since it’s a label applied to her, she should. The American Heritage Dictionary says feckless means: “lacking purpose or vitality; ineffective; careless, irresponsible.”
The word is important because it summarizes the bizarre and irresponsible response from the State Capitol to the shooting rampage in Tucson on January 8, 2011. The one that killed six innocent people and wounded 19 more, including U.S. Rep. Gabby Gifford, who miraculously recovered.
As killer Jared Loughner was sentenced to forever in prison this week, Gabby’s husband, Mark Kelly, read a statement to the court. It included these words:
“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 shoorters 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 grouth, help our returning veterans and fix our education system.”
His words should be the rallying cry for a serious discussion about our gun laws. Nobody wants to infringe on the Second Amendment, but the Second Amendment does not say mentally ill people like Jared Loughner should have easy access to high-capacity magazines that allow them to do such carange in a matter of seconds. That isn’t a constitutional “right”; it’s a clear “wrong” inspired by the paranoid National Rifle Association, which has stopped any discussion on guns.
It’s time we deal with this issue. The last election clearly showed the NRA and their “angry white men” no longer have a stranglehold on American elections–in fact, as Benson’s cartoon suggests today, they have fallen off the cliff, as a wider range of Americans take hold. If there were ever a time to have an open and honest debate, NOW is the time.
And Mark Kelly’s moving words should be the opening anthem.