Tell Conservatives to Apologize to Gabby Giffords for Calling Her a ‘Prop’

Target: Alan Stock and Joe Heck

Goal: Tell conservative radio host Alan Stock and Congressman Joe Heck that it was wrong of them to call Gabby Giffords a “prop” in the gun control debate and insist upon an apology.

On February 15th, 2013, Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) had a conversation with conservative radio show host Alan Stock about the debates surrounding gun control legislation, in which Stock commented, “I found that to be nauseating and you know what else is nauseating too is putting Gabby Giffords up there, who can’t even clap her hands, as a figure of somebody being—having shot her. I think it’s a shameful act putting her up there as a prop.” Heck initially agreed with Stock’s remark, adding that “… in the cloud of emotion surrounding Connecticut those who are anti-gun want to use that to limit their Second Amendment rights.”

Since the initial interview, Congressman Heck has argued that he did not mean to claim that Giffords was a prop, admitting that he should have spoken out in her defense, as well as acknowledging that she is out there speaking of her own volition. While it was right of Congressman Heck to admit to his error, both Congressman Heck and Alan Stock owe Gabby Giffords a formal apology for their incendiary words.

Injured by a gunshot wound to the head from a failed assassination attempt in January of 2011, Gabby Giffords understands the reality of gun violence from the perspective of a survivor. The vantage point that she brings to debates about gun control and the effects of gun violence cannot be overestimated. Giffords bravely speaks out for what she believes in, always against great physical odds.

In calling her a “prop,” Alan Stock not only minimizes those odds and the will power of Giffords, he also denies her very humanity and her own agency. A prop is an inanimate object. With the courage and strength she displays in speaking despite the effects of her injuries, Gabby Giffords is anything but inanimate. Sign this petition to tell conservative politicians and speakers how incredibly patronizing it is of them to dismiss a survivor of gun violence as a “prop” with no will of her own.


Dear Alan Stock and Joe Heck,

I am writing to comment on your recent exchange concerning Gabby Giffords. The term “prop” was an incredibly inaccurate, intentionally incendiary word used to de-legitimize and dehumanize Giffords. Human beings are never props. Props, by definition, do not have consciousness or wills of their own. To insult Gabby Giffords in particular with such a word is ableist in the extreme, suggesting that because she has been the survivor of a debilitating shooting, Giffords is less than human. This is the connotation of the word “prop,” and I know it is not a coincidence that your conversation linked a word related to inanimate objects to a person whose physical movements have been limited as a result of her injuries.

While Gabby Giffords does note that she has difficulty speaking, the more telling point is that she does speak. She speaks against incredible obstacles which most of us, including you, can scarcely imagine. Her actions evince a high level of determination, personal strength, and conviction in her beliefs.

I am writing this petition to ask both of you for a formal apology. Congressman Heck, you know that you should have spoken up when this language was used. You have admitted this. It was right of you to make this admission, but you could and should go a little farther in actually apologizing for not saying something when Stock made his comment and for appearing to agree with him. It will not hurt you to apologize. As for Alan Stock, you should know better than to call a grown woman with free will a “prop” in a debate. You also owe Gabby Giffords an apology, whether you agree with her stance on gun legislation or not.


[Your Name Here]

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