A Space Shuttle Ethic and Politic

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Viewing former NASA Space Shuttle Pilot Mark Kelly‘s video this morning, the day we face the possibility of another government shutdown, inspires hope for a wiser future. NASA photograph of Earth as the Blue Marble invites us to recognize we’re all in this together.

Click Full Speed Ahead for Mark Kelly’s announcement of his candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2020. Mark Kelly is joined by his wife, former U.S. Congressional Rep. Gabby Giffords, whose formal public service came to an abrupt end with a near-fatal shot to the head on January 8, 2011. Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly became leading voices for responsible gun control in the U.S.

L-R Space Shuttle crew Mark Kelly, Linda Godwin, Daniel Tani, Dominic Pudwill Gorie

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 12, 2019.

Gabby Giffords and Gabby Hayes

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder. Other times I don’t wonder at all. I’m amazed, disappointed, and chagrined. Today was one of those as the Senate’s refused to pass legislation that would have indicated a modest degree of sanity and freedom from the gun lobby.

gabbyhayeswestern17My generation grew up watching Gabby Hayes and others in the Westerns that dominated our TVs.  The law of the Old West was the law of the gun-slingers. We played cowboys and Indians with pretend guns and bows and arrows, re-enacting America’s westward expansion sometimes wondering whether the ones with bows and arrows were more civilized than those with guns.

Gabby Giffords book photo

Gabby Giffords book photo

More recently a different Gabby – Gabby Giffords, a vibrant U.S. Representative from Arizona – was shot and nearly killed, joining the growing numbers of victims of gun violence.

This later Gabby sent an email expressing her disappointment after today’s Senate’s refusal to adopt simple, common-sense legislation.

Moments ago, the United States Senate voted on two measures that would have strengthened our gun laws and helped keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill, and known and suspected terrorists.

And in the wake of yet another mass shooting — the deadliest in modern American history — the Senate chose to do the unimaginable: nothing at all.

Five years ago, I was shot point blank in the head, and the Senate did nothing. When 20 young children and six educators lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut, the Senate did nothing. San Bernardino, Roseburg, Navy Yard, Charleston, Isla Vista — nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.

Well, I am a fighter and I am not going to give up now. This won’t be easy, but we’ve made great progress over the past few years. And I know that if we continue to stand together, we are going to pass legislation that saves lives, or we will elect a Senate that will.

… I am sure we’ll hear platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue,” but this was neither. These senators made a decision based on fear and calculations about the gun lobby’s influence. But I can promise you their fear is nothing like the fear my constituents felt years ago, or the people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando felt last weekend.

 

Sometimes I wonder. What will it take for those we elect to office to become clear?

Until they act, the Gabby Giffords of this world and those she represents will continue to fall because someone believes, or wants us to believe, that the old world of Gabby Hayes is the real America.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 20, 2016