SB1474 Testimony

Following is the text of the remarks I had planned to make today to the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee.  I was told to prepare to speak for about 5 minutes.  When I got to the podium, I was allowed 3 minutes (so was almost everyone else, not claiming unfairness there).  If I can find a link to the archived testimony for today I’ll post it.  I had to edit on the fly. 

Good Afternoon.  Thank you Chairman Gould and Senators of the Judiciary Committee for taking the time to allow me to speak to you today.

My name is Jennifer Longdon. I am a registered voter and I live in Maricopa County. I am the mother of a second year ASU student who lives at the Taylor Place dorm in downtown Phoenix. I am also a gun owner and a survivor of gun violence.  Senators, I oppose SB 1474.

For many here today, this is a theoretical discussion of what they THINK they would or could do if faced with sudden gun violence. Seven years ago my fiancé and I both sustained life-altering injuries in a random attack that has never been solved.  The sort of unexpected, random violence that this bill purports to protect our college students, my own son, from experiencing.

This is not a theoretical discussion for me Senators.  I live it.  I have “skin in the game.” 

On November 15, 2004, my fiancé, David and I were both injured by five random bullets as we drove to a restaurant for a quick dinner.  It was our anniversary.  I was shot in the back and paralyzed from the middle of my chest down.  David, was shot three times, one of those bullets transected his brain leaving him blind, unable to smell and with serious cognitive injuries. A fragment of that bullet still rests behind his right eye.  Neither of us were expected to live the night of our shooting. We both coded multiple times. 

Senators, you already know all too well about the effects of traumatic brain injury caused by a gunshot wound to the head. That night, I lost my life as I knew it, my career and ultimately the love of my life. 

We were armed. We had just returned from vacation and David was transporting his handgun from secure storage at his place of business back to our home. We were armed and David was trained in the use of that firearm yet it happened so fast, he never had a chance to fire a shot. The first thing he did was save my life by throwing his body over mine. Neither of us panicked. Both of us were professional martial arts instructors, and David was a four-time world champion. We had both trained for years to react quickly to violence. David reached for that gun but was unable to use it. I reached for my cell phone and dialed 911. If David, with his training, conditioning and superior reflexes was unable to react quickly enough to save our lives, how would a sleepy student react faster?

In that moment when bullets are flying and adrenaline and fear are pumping, it is sheer hubris to believe that the average person will be able to act with speed and clarity and discernment to a situation that is over before it’s started. To have compounded our own tragedy by firing back would have done nothing but put all the bystanders in that parking lot and restaurant in jeopardy.

Having lived through a random attack, I agree with Law Enforcement that armed but untrained citizens pose their own unique public safety hazard. I believe you have statements from law enforcement agencies opposing this legislation.

Further, as a parent of a college student, and now as a person with disability that has limited my income, we’re already struggling with tuition. The lockers and security needed to comply with this bill have a cost associated with them that amounts to an unfunded mandate that will place the burden squarely on students, or more likely parents, in the form of tuition hikes.  Stakeholder groups are opposed to this bill. You’re forcing us to pay for a provision we overwhelmingly have not asked you to provide. My family stands one more tuition increase from my son potentially being forced to leave school. This cost, could tip us over that edge.

I reject the claims that the proliferation of guns on campus would protect students but instead I argue would place them at greater risk of gun violence, either intentional or accidental. I would argue that the tragic shootings we have seen on campuses are a result of the ease with which the shooters were able to obtain weapons. Again, I am speaking as a gun owner here.

College is a time of youthful indiscretion. As a parent I sometimes worry about this heady new freedom that comes with college life.  Up until now, I’ve considered my son’s biggest risk to be his first hangover or an ill-advised tattoo.  Our children’s’ biggest worries away at college should be their GPA or parents finding a link to their facebook pictures from spring break.  Not the nagging knowledge that their binge drinking roommate has a gun.

It sends chills up my spine, well, the part that still works, to think that my son’s life could be forever altered, as mine was; but his by some random student who mixed alcohol and youth with his or her shiny new gun purchased on whim simply because it was allowed on campus.

Since I began to prepare for this afternoon, I’ve been haunted by one particular memory from my shooting. It was my second day in the ICU and a friend was brushing my hair. Her demeanor changed and she became –evasive. I pushed her to tell me what she was so obviously holding back.  Turns out she was picking bits of David’s brain and skull out of my hair and didn’t want to tell me. David’s dried blood was still crusted in the folds of my ears and the back of my neck. She got a nurse and in spite of my unstable condition, together they scrubbed me down and removed the last vestiges of his blood and tissue from my body. This is NOT a memory that belongs in anyone’s head. It’s certainly not a college-worthy memory.

Please, Senators, I BEG you, don’t do this. Please do not forward SB1474 for a vote.

Thank you for this opportunity to be heard.

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Finding My Voice

As I write this, I’m trembling with bald, naked vulnerability. 

Some of you have noticed that I’ve changed my tone here and that my posts have gotten sporadic.  Not so much writer’s block; there’s much I want to say.  More like laryngitis.  It’s become difficult, painful to give voice to all I want to say.  I’ve retreated from posting here to rethink whether or not I should be writing at all because I’ve become aware that I have a new devo stalker. 

What’s a devo?

A devo (devotee, dev, “compassionate admirer”) is a fetishist who is sexually attracted to my wheelchair.  Some devos are attracted to braces or amputees’ stumps or the deformations caused by polio. 

I had no idea that this… subculture… existed until a friend; a more seasoned fellow wheeler clued me in.  Turns out that the brand new wheeler I was comforting online was actually a man pretending to be a newly injured woman.  The devo’s character told me how “she” was traumatized by the routine of self-catheterization, “she” just couldn’t get it right and “her” health was suffering.  Would I help?  Remembering my own struggles early on and knowing that proper self-cathing technique was critical to “her” health longevity and overall wellbeing, how could I not help?  We went through every excruciatingly intimate detail over and over. 

I felt so dirty and so STOOPID that I had fallen for someone so depraved.  I retreated into myself vowing never again to be fodder for another devo’s twisted fantasies.  But in order to avoid them, I had to know more about them. 

I did a Google search and found out way more about this world that I could ever want to know.  I wish there was a way to erase some knowledge once you obtain it.  I wish I’d never seen the photos secretly taken of women with disabilities just living their everyday lives.  I wish I’d never read the comments about “floppy legs” or the come-hither attraction of a pain-wracked spine so twisted by scoliosis that the woman can no longer walk or breathe fully.  I wish devos did not now own a small corner of my brain. 

I really discourage you from a Google search but some of you will insist so I’ll wait… g’head, look it up…

I told you so. 

I’d feel less dirty turning on the light and find my kitchen teeming with cockroaches.

For those of you smart enough not to plant that image in your head, here’s an analogy.  Imagine you posted your kid’s talent show video for your family and friends to enjoy on your facebook page. Unbeknownst to you, one of your facebook friends is NOT what they seem. Now imagine that “friend” posted your YouTube vid on a pedophile site and along with that surreptitiously filmed your kid at the playground and posted that in the same place.  Now, pedophiles from all over the world are viewing this very innocent footage and making sexual comments.  Your child is most likely physically safe since most of these people have no idea where to find you.  But still, that sexualized context remains.

Over a month ago, I learned that my image was being used in such a manner on a couple of devo sites.  Videos that I had made for work had been “repurposed” as devo porn.  With help I saw my work video with all the devo comments.  I could barely breathe and the itchy, icky, I-need-a-shower-before-I-vomit feeling overwhelmed me.  The comment that created the most activity also caused me the most horror. “It has nice feet.”  One of my feet was indeed discreetly bandaged. 

It has nice feet.”

Since then, every time I focus on writing, I can feel them, the devos, out there waiting.  I find I’m editing myself to avoid creating an orgiastic devo rush.

That post I made after my fall?  The one many of tell me you read on the edge of your seat?  Devos also read it breathlessly.  My helplessness, my struggle against my “useless” legs, my fear.  Pure. Devo. Porn. 

I’ve had 3 encounters with devos in my real-time life. 

Early in my life as a wheeler, pre-social network, the first showed up at my house out of the blue with a gift. We had never communicated before that moment at my door.  He was certain I’d be thrilled by his attention.  He wanted pictures of my legs.  A friend helped him understand that his attention was unwanted. 

The second was a serendipitous encounter in the grocery store. As I was at the self-checkout lane, he came in. He actually squealed with delight and rooted himself in front of me.  He stood rapt as I struggled to reach the money slot, dropped my change on the floor and spent way too long trying to pick it up.  When I finished, he clapped in delight and asked when he could see me again.  Pearl was there.  I wanted to let her eat him like candy. 

The last stalked me while I was in the hospital after my major fall late last winter.  Some of you may remember that drama. I was facing amputation of my legs due the severity of the fractures. He contacted me on a pretext using a name familiar to me.  I didn’t see through that pretext due to the haze of painkillers and anesthesia for my multiple surgeries.  For this particular devo, that trauma was a siren call of sexual promise. He wanted to be there; breathe in my pain and fear.  He wanted to see my fresh stumps. Touch them. Help bandage them.  He was disappointed when I turned the corner, began to heal and kept both legs.  As I healed and relied less on pain medication, the mind-fog cleared and that space of confusion that allowed this devo to move freely through my life cleared too.  With help from friends, I locked down my life, severed the link outside of my hospital room to my support system and choked off his access to me. 

So, when the devos come along here and comment on how harmless they are and voice their protests at my stereotyping, bear these moments in mind. 

December marked a real crisis of faith for me.  I considered shutting down this blog and hiding away from those I consider sexual deviants.  Every post I make on my life with SCI is devo fuel.

I’ve brought some of this on myself I suppose.  Since my injury was so public in my region, I decided to live my spinal cord injury just as publically; my small act of advocacy.  I know that before my injury, I had no clue about some of the issues that I now deal with regularly as a person with a spinal cord injury.  How can I expect the rest of you to understand and relate if you have no context?

Early in my wheeler life I found support in an on-line community.  I was struck by the honesty and willingness to share the most intimate details of life with a spinal cord injury.  In this community I often heard “If only the able-bodied world knew X about us (wheelers) then maybe we could move toward Y result.”  Based on this, I felt my decision to live so publically was a good one.

There are issues I’d rather not discuss.  Times I rather skirt some of the realities of life with a spinal cord injury.  But if you don’t understand my risk of public incontinence, how can you understand just how valuable reliable access to public restrooms is?  If I don’t explain all the ways I’m now different, how can we lobby together for equitable access so we can explore our similarities?   

That person with the smartphone?  Are they capturing the scene around us for an innocent reason or to post it to a fee-based devo site? 

The guy that says hello and stares in Starbucks?  Is he captivated by my charm and beauty or getting wood because of my wheels? 

Once again, the world feels dangerous and hostile. 

How do I move through the world with confidence and trust when it feels like it’s full of devos?  How do I trust? Anyone?   

What do I do?  Do I continue to live a big, bold, open life or do I hide away in the house?  Do I continue to share my life with you unfiltered and honest or do I start editing? 

Am I safe?

Is there an ulterior motive to that new person’s interest in me?

How do I get those devo-site comments and images out of my head?

When the person next to me in public looks down transfixed, is he thinking “There’s that quarter I just dropped.” Or “It has nice feet.” 

I am a woman, not a wheelchair.  A fully realized adult woman.  I have all the same desires and interests I did pre-injury. I AM still a sexual being.  I’m not as inanimate as my wheelchair.  I’m attracted to men who delight in my strength and capabilities but shelter my vulnerabilities.  You can’t have just part of me.   That’s the piece that freaks me out most of all.  These people; devos; revel in my helplessness, not my strengths and abilities.   

I have spent the past seven years clawing my way back from a devastating moment.  I have worked to develop a space where I fit again.  I no longer fit in the box my old life came in. 

Devos, I do not welcome your attention.  I cannot stop you from co-opting my image.  You may yet trick me into unwitting participation in your fantasies.  Any you take of me, you steal.  I will not curtail my life any further to avoid you.  I will not wear your shame.  You will NOT steal my voice.  

I am a woman, fully human.  Not an it.

And the Person of the Year IS…

Can’t decide whether New Mobility deserves kudos or raspberries.  I was leaning toward a big fat Bronx cheer but I’m on the fence.  New Mobility, a magazine for “active wheelchair users” created quite a stir when they chose “Artie” a fictional wheelchair user in the series Glee played by an able-bodied actor as their person of the year

A year ago December, I posted this piece regarding Glee’s portrayal of disability.  I have found Glee’s portrayal of disability issues… thin… at best.  Certainly there is a sharp contrast to the multi-layered, nuanced approach the show takes to other issues from teen pregnancy to body image to LGBTQ to bullying.  My blog post (linked above) concluded:  “Glee misses the real miracles of disability.  Those who learn to live average lives in trying circumstances.  Those who find grace and courage everyday to face a world that is inadvertently hostile to their existence.”  Nothing on the show since has changed my opinion.

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation blogger, JLo, wrote this piece, which caused me to re-examine my frustration with Allen Rucker’s New Mobility article.

I’m sure Mr. Rucker is relieved to know that this cranky wheeler is semi-converted.  NM’s choice has elevated the conversation about how people with disability are portrayed in the media.  Indeed, for a depiction of wheelers in the media the choices were Artie and … well, no one.  Name one other regularly occurring character in a wheelchair.  Not so easy to do. 

I am happy that Artie is as sexual as his peers (OMG are we REALLY discussing “wheelchair people” doing the nasty?) But he had to be lifted onto the bed by his cheerleader girlfriend.  Poor helpless Artie.  Why not allow him to be more capable?  If he can hold a wheelie, play football and manage some of that choreography, he can get his own damned self onto the bed, especially for Brittany. 

Statistically, the dude in the wheelchair would most likely be one of the football players.  Why is the nerd in the chair, not one of the school studs?  I HATE that Artie is portrayed as nerdy and feeble. 

The dearth of PWD portrayed in the media is disheartening.  I only wish writers could create stronger, more accurate, multi-dimensional depictions of people with disability. 

That would require a familiarity with disability.  I wonder how much time the creative people spend with PWD? 

I’ll bow to NM’s choice for Person of the Year.  Maybe they can lobby Glee for more accurate portrayals of PWD.  Allen Rucker for plot advisor of 2012 anyone?

Tis the Season…

I haven’t posted during the holidays.

Any decent misanthrope knows this is the time to lay low and let the rest of the peoples have their warmth and cheer and family time.  

Although I try to avoid the clichéd “Bah Humbug!” I’m still in the “heart two sizes too small” category. I’m a cynic.  I’m always looking for the catch, the fine print.

Then WHAM! My Christmas miracle sneaks up like a ninja and there I am, wrapped in joy and wonder and gratitude.

But I’m starting in the middle. Let me back up…

For anyone who doesn’t know, I sustained a spinal cord injury seven years ago. It changed my life and my lifestyle. I had to completely re-invent myself. And while I’m not textbook destitute, there’s more ramen, tuna and peanut butter in the cabinet than most college dorm rooms. If something – anything – breaks, I’m screwed.

Being a person with a disability is expensive. Much of what I need, from filling up my gas tank to changing light bulbs to picking up the dog poop I pay others to do for me.  Not out of laziness, out of paralysis. 

In September, my 22-year old air conditioner gave up the ghost. In most cases this would be uncomfortable. With a spinal cord injury and the loss of one’s ability to thermo-regulate, this can be deadly. Real quick. Spinal cord injury takes away more than just one’s voluntary functions it also takes the autonomic functions like the ability to sweat or shiver.  

But, air conditioners cost money. Lots of it. And I simply don’t have it. So, I set the worry aside for a bit. I need to have AC by May but until then… well…it’s not May yet.

I continue to look for work. I search for something forgotten that I can sell. I continue to look for a roommate to help with some of the household expenses. If I can’t come up with the cash before it gets hot here in Arizona, I’ll have to give up my home and move to a nursing home.

I just spent a couple of months in a nursing home when I fell last February and broke 43 bones in my legs and feet. I vowed I would die before I would ever go back to such a facility forever. So, I need AC by May.

My neighbors, Edna and Fran have been worrying about this more than I have.

Recently, Edna saw a little notice in the newspaper. (Yeah, the hard copy that shows up on the driveway each day, people still read them!) She called Fran and together they conspired to take care of my air conditioner problem.

Hobaica Services, a local company that does heating and cooling as well as wine cellars and solar hot water systems founded a program called BEGIN- Business Entities Getting Involved in our Neighborhood. This is their third Christmas season where they provide new units to as many as eight needy households.  

Fran and Edna contacted Hobaica and somehow convinced them to donate one of those units to me. I have a whole new view on these two. They’re more than my sweet and loveable neighbor ladies, they are steely negotiators. Who knew?

Last week, Paul Hobaica called me out of the blue. Just as I was about to hang up on this presumed telemarketer, he mentioned Edna and Fran and facts about me. This was no random call. I was confused. He had to repeat himself and use small words. Hobaica was donating one of their units to me.

Me?

ME!

I probed for the catch. There are no free lunches. Surely, no one just gives away air conditioners. If it’s too good to be true… This is exactly how senior citizens get lulled into cons. They still believe in small-town Americana, apple pie, good deeds and honest neighbors. I am far too experienced (ok, cynical) for that. I probed some more.

He was patient and kind. The truth of it hit hard and I began to shake. And cry.

Hobaica Services, Edna and Fran had just saved my life. I can’t live without air conditioning; I would have to go to nursing home. I won’t go back to a nursing home. Period.

Days later, another Hobaica, this time Mike came by to take a look at my unit. There it sat, old and rusted. He climbed into the attic to look over the rest of the system and came down with pictures of the rusted out catch pan. It should never hold water so the malfunction in my attic had been long-term and caused some real damage.

Everything would need to be replaced. Not just the broken condenser out back but the air handler and furnace in the attic. He showed me the pictures of the failing equipment in my attic.

So.

Here it is.

The catch.

Sure I can have a new condenser but I have to buy all the rest of the system. Right?  “We’ll replace that too.” Mike finished without missing a beat. 

I could not have possibly heard him correctly. “What’s the fee?” I asked. I have really, really big dogs. I bet they can beat him to the door. I’m already figuring out how to explain the scam to Edna and Fran.

“There’s no fee.” He looks at me like I’ve just grown antlers out of the middle of my forehead. “We told you we’re going to take care of you. We can’t replace the outside unit and leave the rest. We’ll take care of it.”

Again, the tears. I can stay in my home. I don’t have to kill myself by May. Wow. Just… wow.

Today, a work crew from Hobaica showed up as scheduled and installed my new unit. Three incredibly professional young men started unloading tools and equipment. I recognized much of the stuff they were neatly laying out.

“What’s that?” I pointed to the huge bags. “Oh, that’s all the new duct work. We’re going to replace all the ducts to your vents. What you have in place is old and not very efficient. This will work better and save you money in the long run.” And so it was with the new thermostat and the new air return/filter thingie.

EVERY SINGLE part of my HVAC system was replaced. At no cost. Because it was “the right thing to do.”

Who are these people? Do they not know that we live in a world of profit above all else and cutting corners?  They espouse this thing that I used to expect but have forgotten… Business Ethics. They did the job the right way because it was the right thing to do and that’s who they are. They asked for nothing… not one thing in return. Wow. Just…wow.

A local business taking care of their community. They quietly but powerfully proved through their example that there is still honesty and integrity in the world.

The adage that you can judge a soul by how they treat the least among us is so true. I’m relatively invisible. They gain nothing but good will and perhaps good karma by their kindness.

This was charity. There is not a soul on the planet that would have faulted them for only replacing the condenser out back as they originally agreed to do. Or only the condenser and the air handler in the attic. But everything? All brand new? No skimping. No cost cutting.

Business ethics indeed!

The three young men who were here all day doing the actual installation were so polite and professional. I want to adopt them all. Raul, Tom, Richard, if you ever read this, thank you. And, Hobaica Services, you couldn’t have better ambassadors for your company.  

I poked around for more information on the BEGIN program. From Hobaica’s website: We estimate to have installed $49,400 worth of heating and cooling equipment with 136 hours of labor for this year. Projected value of the 3 years is $148,380 with 23 households helped.

In these times, in this economy, businesses are cutting back, not giving in the same ways they have in years past. Not these guys. Asked Paul about that today. He told me with a shrug that continuing to give was the right thing to do.

And here I sit, the biggest, Grinchiest, Scroogeist, bah humbugger wrapped up in my own Christmas miracle. The only thing missing is a little snow and a group of carolers. I bet the dogs can beat them to the door.

And there’s this thing inside me, trying to take root. I think it’s hope. Maybe faith in humanity. I’m still suspicious but cautiously open to the possibility.

The house is quiet now. Just me typing away. The only other sounds are the soft sighs of Pearl and Auburn’s deep sleeping breaths. The new furnace clicks on. Nearly silent, just a whisper of warmth surrounds me. Grateful tears flow.

Thank you Fran.

Thank you Edna.

Thank you Hobaica Services. 

Thank you to all the vendors who donated or discounted the supplies and equipment that now heat my home. 

And without one drop of satire or cynicism; God bless us. Everyone.

Hey Project Runway! Dress us

 

Dear Project Runway,

Congratulations on another fabulous season! The close of Season 9 means we’ve seen just shy of 150 designers and challenges. Season 9 brought some firsts like the outdoor runway and live concert.

You’ve done everything from groceries to pajamas to trash on everyone from celebrities to moms to brides to stilt-walkers to drag queens. You’ve dressed plus sizes, mature women and wrestling divas. You’ve even dressed pets, and (gasp) men.

But there’s at least one group you’ve missed. Real-world women with real-world fashion challenges who have long been overlooked by the fashion industry… women in wheelchairs. There are more than 3 million wheelchair users in the US; more than half are women. I imagine this is a slightly larger number than women on stilts.

How about it Project Runway? Are you up to the real-world challenge of dressing women in wheelchairs? We have significant fashion challenges. We tend to need longer inseams and higher rise on our pants because we never (or for some, rarely) stand. Our years of pushing a wheelchair have changed our upper-body portions. These realities would challenge your designers to think creatively to address our unique needs.

We are diverse. We are active. We are fashion minded. We are ignored by the industry. You can change that. How about it?  

 
Join our conversation on facebook.

Guillermo’s Birthday

Twenty-four years ago today, Guillermo Rodriguez Sanchez was born.  His mom posted about it this morning on facebook.  

The name may be familiar to you.   Guillermo was 17 when he, along with Rafael Encinas Rios, also 17, were murdered during a robbery at the Subway Sandwich shop where they worked. 

I never met Guillermo or Rafael, but I have gotten to know Guillermo’s parents, Guadalupe and Jose.  We attend some of the same events raising awareness on gun violence.   

Every time I hear them speak of Guillermo, I cannot help but think about my own son.  Just 13 at the time of those murders, my son is in college now.  Time marches on for the rest of us while Guillermo and Rafael remain frozen, stifled at 17.  I think of the grandchildren that will never be born, the dreams never realized.  The pain of their loss is nearly unimaginable. 

I always swore that if I were ever put in charge of the universe, Rule One would be that no parent would ever have to bury their child.   

Yesterday and today, Lupe gave voice to her grief in a couple of rare facebook postings.  Yesterday and today we in Phoenix are experiencing bleak grey skies, cold rain drops slide down the windows like tears.  It feels connected; as though Nature, a mother herself, acknowledges Lupe’s pain. 

Happy B-Day Guillermo ,you would have been 24 gosh how time passes and it seem like yesterday when you were taken from me i miss you dearly ,i will always love you and keep you in my heart ,i love you my baby boy .Te Amo mi Flakito y te Extrano muchisimo.”

I cannot fathom a world where her loss makes sense.  I cannot understand a rational, connected, thoughtful universe where two boys go to work and never come home. 

It’s crazy to me that Guillermo and Rafael underwent far more governmental oversight in order to make sandwiches for minimum wage than did the transactions that ultimately put those guns in the hands of the robbers.  Guillermo and Rafael had to pass a test and become licensed food handlers. 

In Arizona we take food safety very seriously. 

Guns, however, are a different story. 

No tests. No licensure. 

Arizona gets squeamish about any oversight that might stand between us and our firearms.  In this state, anyone over the age of 18 can walk in to an establishment that sells firearms, make a purchase and leave with the gun.  No background checks. No waiting period. 

It’s more difficult to get beer at 18 than a gun. 

The murderers weren’t criminal masterminds.  They weren’t well-connected crime lords with infinite resources.  They were boys themselves.  Boys who had no trouble acquiring weapons.  Weapons used to kill. 

There’s a logic disconnect. 

Guillermo and Rafael needed to be tested and licensed in food safety to make sandwiches for minimum wage.  There is no testing or licensure required to own a gun in Arizona.  I cannot make that make sense. 

Twenty-four years ago today, Lupe and Jose’s beautiful boy was born.   Six years ago, he was murdered by the blast of a SKS assault rifle through his 17 year old chest. 

I’m not suggesting we round up all the guns and abolish the Second Amendment.  But Guillermo’s right to life is at least equal to the right to own a gun. 

I am both the victim of gun violence and a gun owner myself. 

I know this is complicated.  But we must do better.  We need some modicum of common sense when it comes to guns in Arizona.   We need leaders who can have a measured, thoughtful conversation about balancing the rights of public safety with the rights of gun ownership instead of devolving into partisan talking points and party lock-step.   We have to create some measure of sanity around the types of weapons and ammunition one can purchase. 

We do need to honor the Second Amendment.  Surely Lupe’s right to see her boy graduate high school and mature into manhood must have some equal value.  Surely her right to hold the grandbabies who will never be born has to count too. 

Can’t we stop this insanity?