Two years ago today, my sister called me from two thousand miles away, asking if I was okay, because she heard there’d been a shooting in a Tucson grocery store. I laughed. “Tucson’s a big city,” I said. “We have lots of grocery stores.” I assured her that whatever had happened, it had nothing to do with me.
Ten minutes later I was scanning news sources and twitter feeds, trying to figure out whether or not my congresswoman was alive.
Gabrielle Giffords survived, but six others didn’t. In Tucson we remember their names–Christina-Taylor Green, Gabe Zimmerman, Judge John Roll, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorwan Stoddard–and this morning we rang bells in their memory.
Neither the survivors nor the victims’ families pressed for the death penalty, and because of this our community was spared a lengthy trial that would have changed nothing. In doing so, they gave a gift to all of us, and I’m grateful for that.
Meanwhile, today, while a couple hours north of us another county’s sheriff is sending armed volunteer posses to patrol schools, former Tucson congresswoman Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly are launching an initiative to find more responsible solutions to gun violence.
I can’t think of a better place for this to begin, or of better people to begin it.