I live a life of many privileges; the privilege of being white, heterosexual, and middle class, and more and more I become privileged in that I have not yet had to experience the loss and tragedy of gun violence. According to Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto, however, this makes me an expert on gun control policy. Responding to a recent New York Times op-ed by Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Taranto tried to rationalize how someone "who has severe impairments of her motor and speech functions" could have written an article as fast as he claims Rep. Gifford wrote her piece. Ignoring the blatant disregard for Rep. Gifford's condition, which is a result of gun violence, the assumption that someone whose life was turned upside down because someone who had a gun that shouldn't have somehow has no place in the gun control discussion is not just ludicrous. It is delusional and so out of touch that it's astounding he didn’t think twice before offering his opinion.
Taranto is not the only one to take a swing at the former Representative and her work for passing comprehensive gun control laws, such as the background check bill that was struck down earlier this week. Kevin D. Williamson, in a post for the National Review Online, wrote, "it should be noted that being shot in the head by a lunatic does not give any special grace to pronounce upon public-policy questions ... her childish display in the New York Times is an embarrassment."
Now, speaking as what Taranto and Williamson apparently call an expert, I would think that someone who suffered a gun shot to the head and survived would be exactly the kind of person we should talk to about reforming gun control laws. At least Rep. Gifford has been kind enough to remind us all of the perils lax gun laws have on our children, calling back to mind the horror the children of Newtown faced "as their lives ended in a hail of bullets" and what the survivors must now feel "every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them."
If we exclude gun violence victims from the discussion of comprehensive gun reform, we run the risk of more unthinkable and unnecessary violence. We owe Representative Gifford a voice. We owe the children of Newtown a voice. We owe Aurora, Virginia Tech, and Columbine victims a voice. If we do not allow them to be a part of the discussion, we are accepting and justifying the violence that is done against our families and our children.