The tragic shooting in Tucson this past weekend that left six people dead and fourteen others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, wounded should remind us all that homeland security begins at home.
This blog has addressed in the past what defines a terrorist and when the line between a crime and an attack of terrorism is crossed. While as a legal issue, it may matter; as a homeland security issue, such a definition does not.
This weekend’s events shocked America, leaving the media befuddled as it attempted to report on the status of the Congresswoman, and causing the U.S. House of Representatives to cancel its scheduled votes this week.
Successful attacks on our political leaders are not that common. A quick search of Wikipedia(maybe not the best resource, but one nonetheless) shows that there have been three incidents of “wounding” attacks on Members of Congress. In 1856, there was the attack on Senator Charles Sumner with a cane by Representative Preston Brooks on the Senate floor. In 1954, five Members of Congress were wounded in the Capitol by Puerto Rico nationalists. Then there was yesterday’s event – Away from the Hill. Away from Washington D.C. At Home. At a busy supermarket on a Saturday morning. A place any or every American could be.
There has already been and will continue to be much debate over what lead to the attack. In many ways, all of the possible causes are right. And wrong. The attack of this past weekend reminds us that political vitriol – on all sides – is not good for homeland security and exposes our nation’s weaknesses to the world. So does the continual rush to judge motives too quickly and respond with anger and hate. Sadly, one of those brought down in this weekend’s attack was a nine-year old girl born on September 11, 2001. A coincidence that just reminds us how much an attack can affect our nation.
In the end, this weekend’s events should remind us all that homeland security begins at home. It happens when we put aside our differences and recognize that opinions can vary and as Americans we have the right to express ourselves but also the obligation to do so responsibly. Let’s hope, as the days continue, we remember that as we pray for the survivors and grieve those killed this weekend. Otherwise, we have made ourselves more vulnerable than any enemy ever could.