Stand Down

at 11:35 PM

The shooting rampage in Tucson that claimed the lives of six people and left others, including Representative Gabby Giffords, critically wounded has given pause, if briefly, to our country. I am myself deeply affected by this tragedy, as are countless others.

I discover, though, that these events have caused me to look upon my own prized firearms with a measure of distaste. I am of sound mind and body and the provenance of my two revolvers is certain: they are federally registered and were properly impounded by a federally licensed firearms dealer when I acquired them.

I enjoy firing them, and I never lose sight of the fact that they are purpose-built deadly weapons. I confess that sometimes I take them out of the safe just to admire them. They are as finely crafted as any tool ever hefted by the hand of a man or woman. American made. Yet now, the thinking of them makes me sad.

It surprises me. There have been other murderous rampages, and more than one war, and thousands of dead American service members since I bought these two pistols, but this event, somehow, has pulled at my emotions in a new way.

I had never heard of Gabrielle Giffords, but now that she is fighting for her life, I am wishing that she were my representative. She seems like my kind of Democrat. That Representative Giffords hails from Arizona causes me to think much more highly about that state, where immigration's proverbial rubber meets the road.

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And there is another surprise. I discover I have a deep and abiding love for my country even when it seems determined to hide its charms.

While the rancor rages about overheated political rhetoric in this country, I think it is a worthwhile exercise for all of us, whether or not we exercise our Second Amendment rights, to undertake some introspection -- to stand down, as it were, for a period. I think it would be constructive to examine our motivations and contemplate anew the dire seriousness -- and potential consequences -- of our individual choices and actions.

For my part, I am going to leave my firearms in the safe for a spell of time out of respect for the victims.

With a Perspective, I am Matthew Shaffer.

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