Normally I like to avoid politics in what I write here as we are not concerned with such things when we are talking anything motorcycle – with some notable exceptions, of course. Thanks are definitely due to the AMA for their work; if you are not a member, you should be. Recent news has made it necessary to speak about a member of the United States House of Representatives from incredibly rider-friendly, and recently controversy-filled, state of Arizona. The now infamous location of this tragedy was outside of a Safeway grocery store in the city of Tucson. A young and very disturbed, mentally-challenged young man took a semi-automatic pistol into a crowd around the recently re-elected Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and opened fire.
Six people were dead at the scene; Rep. Giffords and eleven more were seriously injured.
Among the dead were Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, community organizer Gabe Zimmerman, and a 9-year-old girl who was born on 11 September 2001, Christina Taylor Green.
The identities of the remaining three dead are also unknown at this time. Of the 12 survivors, five are in critical condition, including Rep. Giffords, and seven are believed to be in serious condition.
The reason this member of our federal government makes news here is what she has meant to motorcycling and motorcyclists during her time in office. Rep. Giffords is co-chair of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus with Representative Walt Jones of North Carolina. She is an avid rider and takes to the roads on two wheels whenever she gets some time to do so. With the Motorcycle Industry Council in 2009, she recorded a public service announcement for Ride to Work Day in which she explained the practical side to using a motorcycle and encouraged everyone to get out and ride one. Right in her bio section on Rep. Giffords’ reelection website she states that her dream is to one day ride down through the Americas into Argentina.
Politically, she is a hard-line centrist, according to many who follow her career closely. Her advocacy for motorcycle safety is well-known in the halls of Congress and many consider her one of the best friends us motorcyclists have in the U.S. government today. She is also a very big supporter of Green technology and the many connected industries. Not long ago she stated her interest in trying out a solar-powered motorcycle if she were given the chance.
Her husband, U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly, is scheduled to command one of the final NASA Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station. Interestingly, she is the only member in all of Congress to have a spouse on active duty in the military. Rep. Giffords does have a solid voting record on military affairs when it comes to supporting people in an American uniform.
As of this writing Rep. Giffords remains in critical condition. However, her doctors are cautiously optimistic that she will recover. Amazingly, she has survived a point-blank 9mm gunshot to the head. How well she recovers will only be known in the next 24 to 48 hours. Please join me in wishing Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the so far unnamed people injured in this act of terror a fast recovery and a welcome reunion with their loved ones.
An almost unlimited number of questions will be asked over the coming weeks or months, maybe years. One answer I would like to hear from the hate-filled gunman – this face of evil incarnate – is what he thought the nine-year-old Christina did to deserve to die this day. What about Chief Judge John Roll? And what of Representative Giffords? What did she do to be deserving of such violence, such anger, such hate? The short answer to that is: nothing. But we had better get some answers to some of those questions very soon because this is getting to be way too common now. How many more lives must be lost before we have had enough? Will we wait until it gets to someone closer?
Written by J.C. Current, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com