Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is on her way to making a remarkable recovery. After being shot by Jared Loughner last week, Giffords is now opening her eyes, moving both legs and responding to friends and family.
Her recovery is remarkable given that she was shot through the head at point blank range less than a week ago.
Giffords big breakthrough came just after President Barack Obama visited her before his well-received speech in Arizona. Some of Giffords' friends from Congress were in her room when she began to struggle to open her eyes.
"It felt like we were watching a miracle," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was at the bedside. "The strength that you could see flowing out of her, it was like she was trying to will her eyes open."
Doctors said they are "actually confident" that Giffords is recovering. She could soon have her breathing tube removed.
I hope Giffords is able to make a recovery that returns her as close to her normal state of functioning as possible. Giffords stands to be a powerful symbol of what happens when we let things get out of hand.
We've allowed the idea that being able to easily get a gun is a freedom that is more important than the right not to be subject to deadly violence. Giffords is the most prominent example of what happens because guns are so prevalent in our country.
Every day, young people are being killed on the streets of this country because it is so easy to get a gun. People who might not commit suicide are doing so because of their access to a gun.
And how long will it be before some other sick person buys a high-powered weapon and shoots up 15, 20 or 30 people? Is it going to take a massacre where one person with high-powered weapons kills 200 people at once for us to be outraged?
The other issue we've allowed to get out of control is our political rhetoric. It's chilling to see Giffords talk about how Sarah Palin putting out an advertisement with a gun sight over her district would have "consequences."
The tone of our rhetoric has changed in just a few short years. When the lies spread on the Internet that former President George W. Bush was responsible for 9/11, they did not reach the mainstream media. But the myth about President Obama being a Muslim and health care being a step towards socialism were spread by mainstream media organizations.
Health care reform did not mean the end of our country. We are now not a socialist state. Government has been involved in the distribution of health care for decades. President Obama is not an illegitimate president. He is not a Muslim. There is nothing wrong with being a Muslim.
Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck did not direct anyone to shoot Giffords and murder six others, including a 9-year-old girl, however, the rhetoric that they were spewing helped to set the tone.
I sincerely hope Giffords recovers completely. I look forward to hearing her voice on these important issues affecting our country.
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