Okay, it’s a stretch to bring gun laws into a body image blog, but hey. I bet Gabrielle Giffords’ body image issues are different than they were at the beginning of 2011. And while that’s certainly not the worst of her problems, it’s probably not the smallest issue either.
[Disclaimer: I have many friends who own and use guns. I believe they all use them safely and carefully. Some are advocates for reducing gun laws. For myself, I had one very scarring experience when a friend I thought was completely reliable with guns had a series of complex drug-related psychiatric issues and became unreliable, so it's very hard for me to trust anyone with a gun. I'm well aware of how many gun injuries are accidents caused by insufficient gun safety. At the same time, I also don't want the police and armed forces to have all the firepower. So the issue is confusing to me.]
I’m currently reading James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, a highly-regarded one-volume history of the American Civil War. In the period leading up to the war, the United States was even more polarized than it is now. In 1856, one Senator beat another Senator bloody with a cane on the Senate floor. In 1858, about fifty Congressmen engaged in a melee on the House floor, which started when one Congressman insulted another.
In both cases, the insulters and attackers got plenty of support for their actions. So it scares me silly when I see that at least one of our elected congresspeople is coming close to making threats about the safety of the senators he disagrees with.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) criticized his congressional colleagues Tuesday, calling them “cowards” and a “class of career elitists.”
“It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor,” Coburn told a crowd in Langley, Okla.
I’d like to believe that no Senator or Representative would ever sneak a gun onto the Senate or House floor and open fire. I’d like to believe that no guard at the metal detectors (there must be metal detectors) would ever turn a blind eye, or simply not notice. I’d like to believe that everyone in Congress who owns guns has gun safes and good protections.
In fact, Coburn probably isn’t really dangerous, since he’s appreciative of the fact that he’s prevented from his impulses. Who’s out there scheming to get around the metal detectors, rather than being grateful for the rules?
And, on the other hand, is it any worse for our elected officials to be at risk than for innocent bystanders, or gunfighting teenagers in American cities, or victims of war? For me, the issue of elected officials, guns and threats is more about how people in power both reflect and influence the people who put them into power than it is about specifically protecting the members of Congress. I don’t have any conclusions, but writing this helped me think out some of the implications, which is a small help.