Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Arizona Assassinations

I had a lot to talk about yesterday but of course when I got home from work, and heard about the assassination attempt on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, other concerns seemed trivial in comparison. Emotions are running high on all sides and the burning question when such tragedies occur is always - why?

It's far too early to pinpoint the exact reason that drove this young man to such extremes but one thing is clear. This was an attempted political assassination, not just a random act of violence by a crazy person. His target was clearly Rep. Giffords who was holding a well publicized, public event to speak with her constituents. But why her? Why now?

I'm trying to avoid the finger pointing, but I've been haunted by these clear facts:
And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.
It was bitter contest and she won by a slim margin. I'm reluctant to succumb to drawing straight lines between this disturbed kid and the toxic hyperbole that has dominated our political discourse for far too long but one can't help but recall the many GOP and Tea Party candidates who made reference to Second Amendment solutions and armed revolution. And while this kid may well have been a "lone wolf," he is just the latest in a long line of "lone wolves" who committed acts of armed violence in just the last couple years. Via Digby, this list of the bigger instances should at least suggest there's a connection between fomenting anger and fear for political or personal gain and inspiring unstable individuals to act out on it.

Certainly, the local Sheriff sees it that way:
"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government," he said. "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."
Of course, no one, not even the most virulent partisans actually wishes the end result will be murder. They do mainly stoke the public anger for personal gain, to win ratings or power. However, as the list continues to grow, it's certainly time to admit that false and violent rhetoric can not be carelessly tossed out to the masses without consequences.
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Blogger Diane said...

Excellent post, Libby.

I would only add that the gun laws in Arizona made it easy for this troubled young man (whose erratic behavior was noted by the US Army which turned him down for enlistment, Pima Community College, which expelled him, and local police authorities, who arrested him) to purchase a semi-automatic handgun with extended cartridges on November 30.

"Don't retreat, reload" was taken literally by this kid.

11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

There are only a handful of places that would have restricted the purchase of a handgun by someone with no criminal record. Chicago, Washington DC -- Those places have far higher murder rates than Tucson.

It was an extended magazine. The one that comes standard with the Glock pistol holds 15. It will hold 16 if you chamber a round. The extended magazine holds two more rounds. If he'd bought a Beretta M92FS, another favorite of policemen and the military standard sidearm, it might have come standard with a 17 round magazine. Yes, certainly he might have had a 6 or 8 shot revolver - or two of them. He could have used a satchel bomb with nails like the anti-abortion guy in Atlanta. Would that have changed anything?

So the Brady 3 day waiting period had no effect. The requirement to certify that you are sane and not on drugs had no effect. The legal requirement for a police background check had no effect. These things and a ban on guns that cost less than $600 or so (remember when the problem was saturday night specials?) haven't had any effect -- much less have they done what the "gun control" bills we've supported were so fatuously guaranteed to do.

The fact that murder is illegal had no effect. He was carrying the gun illegally in the first place I believe as one needs a permit to do in all but one state (Vermont) We haven't had a lot of assassinations in Vermont.

What I'm asking is why do we protect and contribute to people who have spent decades fomenting revolution, calling for the poisoning of judges, holding machine gun shooting parties in honor of Ms Giffords, talking about being armed and dangerous painting crosshairs on politcal enemies, saying don't retreat, reload; Tea Party revolutionaries who bring weapons to presidential rallies and make threats and who call a weak president a tyrant, and traitor and terrorist -- I'm wondering why we're allowing people to shout fire in a crowded theater and making the results all about the nut job who finally pulls a trigger.

At the very least, criminals like Beck and Coulter and Bachmann and a host of Republican hate-shouters are accessories before the fact and we need to do something about them instead of that same old mierda about guns. Would this have happened without them? Would the Murrah building have been blown up without the constant howling of the Christian right, without the 24 hour media angerfest?


12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I don't think stricter gun laws would make a difference either. It is the irresponsible rhetoric that creates an environment where violence is acceptable. Even if we banned guns altogether, they would find a way to kill.

6:22:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I saw a British newspaper not long ago, claiming that soaring knife crime was making the country dangerous.

Obviously we have to penalize the cooks since at any minute one might flip out and go on a rampage with a cleaver.

11:10:00 AM  

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