A measured response

Congress must remain available to the public despite the Arizona shooting.

Daily Editorial Board

Though threats on government officials are constant, the attack on Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was the first against a member of Congress in 30 years. While thereâÄôs certainly a need to respond, lawmakers need not overreact. Gunman Jared LoughnerâÄôs Glock fired about 30 shots before he had to stop and reload, at which time he was tackled. Some now are rightfully calling for a federal ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, arguing that if the weapon had fewer bullets, lives could have been spared. However, not every safety proposal born from the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz. is so sensible. Republican Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana has proposed legislation intended to enclose the U.S. House Gallery in Plexiglas, saying, âÄúThink of the horror if someone got in the gallery with an explosive device. Think of the chaos it would cause to the seat of government and what it would do to the country.âÄù What this measure would really do is frighten visitors and cut members of Congress off from their constituents both symbolically and physically. The rarity of assassination attempts should assure lawmakers that they still can engage with the public. In homage to Giffords, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., held his own âÄúCongress on Your CornerâÄù event Friday. Ellison answered questions for more than two hours and told the media, âÄúWe cannot withdraw from the public square âĦ We must stand together.âÄù Ellison has set the right tone. New laws may be passed because of the shooting, but Congress should not cut itself off from its constituents by overreacting to a tragic âÄî yet thankfully rare âÄî event.