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Security options

"Security options" Continued...

But many question if the expected ramped-up security requests will be financially feasible for cash-strapped state law enforcement agencies.

In a 408-13 vote held just the week before the shooting, the House approved a 5 percent cut in each member's yearly office budgets. Now Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., has proposed reversing this deficit reduction cut and adding an additional 10 percent boost in the office budgets to pay for stronger security. Some of that money may be used to hire a full-time staffer to oversee security at events and work as a liaison with local law enforcement officials.

But Speaker Boehner has no plans to either push for increased security budgets or additional gun legislation.

So others have vowed to take matters into their own hands. Two lawmakers-Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Heath Shuler, D-N.C.-said they plan on carrying guns when they are in their districts.

"I don't think that's a good idea," said Terrance Gainer, the Senate's sergeant of arms and a former chief of the U.S Capitol Police, in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America. "I think we should leave the law enforcement and security to those professionals."

Since the shooting, Congress has done what it thinks it does best, debate. Democratic lawmakers have tried to assign blame for the act to talk radio, the national political rhetoric, former political candidates, the Tea Party, and immigration laws. But, in the end, Rep. Franks, from Giffords' own state, said a culture that does not respect human life in all its forms is the most likely genesis of this tragedy. He hopes that, in the midst of all this talk to beef up security, one thing that is not invaded is the firewall around the ability for free speech and free assembly.

"I really believe that a free and open debate that is sometimes passionate can actually suppress violence rather then incite it," said Franks, "Societies that are not free often think violence is the only option they have.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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