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Wednesday 16 November 2011

After The Shooting

With politics focusing on the trials and tribulations of the GOP Presidential hopefuls, some may have lost sight of the recovery from her near-fatal shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. Following the traumatic events of last January – when six were killed – she has been undergoing a long and difficult programme of rehabilitation. And she has a long way to go yet.

Rep. Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, the latter now a former Space Shuttle commander, have given an interview to ABC’s Diane Sawyer, to show the progress that the Congresswoman has made since the shooting. Kelly has been on the Daily Show and told host Jon Stewart that his wife was improving every day. His optimism is as boundless as it is inexhaustible.

But the reality is that Gabrielle Giffords has had to walk a very long, singularly lonely and emotionally exhausting road just to get to where she is now. She has had to re-learn her speech, how to smile, how to coax both legs into doing what she wants them to do. The short video above, where she finds adversely on Sarah Palin’s now infamous “crosshairs” map, comes from before the shooting.

And here is video from ABC, with some of the interview. There is humour, warmth and determination in Giffords, great support from Kelly, and Sawyer is a sympathetic interlocutor. But Gabrielle Giffords is not there yet. One should not be surprised: she was shot through the head and the round tore through one side of her brain. No-one knows how far her recovery will go.

Right now, some of Gabrielle Giffords has returned. More will certainly follow: she is determined to keep improving, as is her husband, as are her family and supporters. But after that shooting, it is possible that part of her will not come back, that some of her cannot be recovered. That is what happens when people get in the way of instruments built for killing.

And when the usual suspects clamour for more guns on the streets, not less – yes, Ann Coulter, I mean folks like you – it should be borne in mind that the more guns there are, and when they’re easier to get hold of, then sometimes they will fall into the hands of those like Jared Lee Loughner.

Maybe, one day, it really will be time to put the guns down. But don’t bet on it happening just yet.

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