I watched a very emotional and heart-wrenching ceremony on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives recently, in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., submitted her letter of resignation to the speaker of the House. One year ago, Rep. Giffords was shot in the brain by a mentally deranged madman who should not have had access to a gun. During that attack, six people were killed, including a precious 9-year-old girl, and several others were wounded.
As I reflect on the nearly eight decades of my life, I remember how President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were brutally murdered by gunmen. Countless others have been killed or seriously wounded by mentally deranged people who had access to guns.
Our nation has been robbed of some of our greatest treasures in the prime of their lives but, sadly, these attacks will continue unless we place strong restrictions on the sale, purchase and possession of guns. The most heart-wrenching gun attacks involve children who had access to guns that were not stored securely by their adult owners.
I realize that supporters of the National Rifle Association will demonize me for proposing strong gun control, but as a nation of civilized people we cannot afford the continued proliferation of guns in our society. For many people guns have become their object of worship and, tragically, this carnage will continue unless we enact stricter gun ownership laws and impose stronger penalties for violating those laws.
I thank God for bringing Rep. Giffords through this terrible tragedy, and I pray for her full recovery and return to Congress.
The Rev. Paul L. Cook