July 4 gets the parades and the celebrations, as it should. But I’m going to start my celebration of American independence early. Days before we celebrate our Declaration of Independence and the values that make our nation great, I am taking this week to pay tribute to the Second Amendment — both the rights it bestows and the responsibilities it requires.
Some might consider me an unlikely advocate for gun rights because I sustained terrible injuries in a violent shooting. But I’m a patriot, and I believe the right to bear arms is a definitive part of our American heritage.
For centuries, that right has come with the responsibility to use our guns safely and ensure that our families, our communities and our children are protected. Generations of gun owners have taught their sons and daughters that it takes as much patience and skill to be a good shot as it does to be a good steward of a powerful weapon.
I know that, and my husband, former astronaut and combat veteran Capt. Mark Kelly, knows that. We own guns, we use them and we treat them with great care. But when children are gunned down in their classrooms, when families are slaughtered at a movie theater, when a little girl dreaming of running for office is shot dead standing next to me in a grocery store parking lot, we have to admit what we’re doing is not enough. We’ve all got to do more to reduce gun violence.
We’re gun owners
We can’t stop every person who is determined to do harm, but common-sense measures can prevent tragedies. Expanding background checks will help create a uniform standard for all gun purchases and prevent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining powerful weapons.
As gun owners, my husband and I understand that the Second Amendment is most at risk when a criminal or deranged person commits a gun crime. These acts only embolden those who oppose gun ownership. Promoting responsible gun laws protects the Second Amendment and reduces lives lost from guns.
Post Continues: Gabrielle Giffords: Gun rights come with responsibilities.