Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Tucson Shooting is America's Wake Up Call

The Washington Post reports that:

"The mass shooting Saturday morning that gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed a federal judge raised serious concerns that the nation's heated political discourse had taken a dangerous turn.

Police are holding a 22-year-old man in the shooting rampage, which occurred outside a supermarket where Giffords was greeting constituents. The gunman shot Giffords in the head at close range and then continued to fire into the small gathering of people, police said.

Police said they think that Giffords was the target of the attack.

Law enforcement and medical officials in Arizona said that at least 18 people were shot in the melee and that six of them had died, including John M. Roll, the chief U.S. District judge in Arizona, and Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords's local director of community outreach. Also killed was Christina Taylor Green, 9, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and had gone to the event with a neighbor. Two other Giffords staffers, district director Ron Barber and community outreach aide Pam Simon, were wounded.

Authorities said they were seeking a second man as a "person of interest" who might have been at the scene with the gunman. He is not a suspect in the shooting, authorities said."

This tragic incident should be a major wake up call for America in two respects.  First, it should force people to realize that we need more effective gun control regulations.  As reported by the Huffington Post in April 2010, "Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill making Arizona the third state allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without requiring a permit." Later in the article, it states that "[n]early all adults can already carry a weapon openly in Arizona."  In light of the horrific shooting in Tucson, such lax guns law should not stand. 

How many more innocent people will be slaughtered before Congress gets the message and enacts true gun control legislation?  In April 1999, two high school students went on a shooting rampage and killed 13 people and seriously injured 20 more students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.  In April 2007, a deranged student went on a shooting spree, killed 33 students and injured 15 students at Virginia Tech.  In August 2010, a disgruntled employee shot 10 co-workers at Hartford Distributors, killing eight of them.  How many more Columbines or Virginia Techs will Congress allow to happen? Since a member of Congress was shot and a federal judge was killed, will Congress finally act? 

Second, this tragedy should force politicians and commentators to realize that their rhetoric may lead to violence.  Although there is no indication that the alleged shooter was affiliated with or inspired by the Tea Party, the Tea Party should cease using violent rhetoric following the Tucson tragedy.  A few examples of recent violent/vitriolic rhetoric or threatening protests include:

Sharon Angle told a conservative radio host: "If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around.  And I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."

As reported on Global Grind, "Sarah Palin has just thrown down the gauntlet with a new site called Take Back The 20, which is aimed at knocking off 20 Democrats who voted for Obamacare in GOP-leaning districts. On the map, the districts are marked by snipers, which includes Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' district."  Regarding health care reform, Sarah Palin tweeted: "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Pls see my Facebook page."

During the mid term elections, Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West's former Chief of Staff Joyce Kaufman said, "I am convinced that the most important thing the founding fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will."

In August 2009, a man carried an assault rifle to a protest against President Obama in Phoenix, Arizona.  In addition, many protesters have attended Tea Party rallies armed.  On more than a few occasions, they carried protest signs reading "We Came Unarmed [This Time]".

Fox News analyst Bill O'Reilly campaign against abortion provider Dr. George Tillman.  See Salon article and Fox video clip for details.  A right wing extremist later murder Dr. Tillman. 

Finally, on a side note, I find it interesting that none of the corporate media outlets have mentioned the word "terrorism" in connection with incident. If the perpetrator was Arab or Muslim, the media would have instantly declared this an act of terrorism.  The media should reevaluate how it covers stories involving political violence. Awake up America!


  1. Unfortunately, over heated rhetoric did not only come from the Right. Check out this article regarding Daily Kos.

  2. Good post, Anson.

    "I find it interesting that none of the corporate media outlets have mentioned the word "terrorism" in connection with incident:"

    Now come'on Anson, the media can't declare this white man a terrorist, the Repbulican/Tea Party won't allow for it!

  3. Thanks. You're right. The media rarely labels white perpetrators as terrorists.

    BTW, I have video on my blog thanking 3chics and other bloggers.

  4. Criminals, especially sociopaths, have no regard for the law. Considering the fact that most municipalities with strict gun control laws have thriving handgun black markets (i.e. New York, New York), its easy for criminals to obtain illegal in these places. However, law-abiding citizens are left weaponless and therefore defenseless. What are your thoughts on this?

  5. Thanks Neecie for your comment. You raise an interesting point. I do not support an outright gun ban. I support reasonable restrictions.

    The Tucson shooter and the Virginia Tech shooter legally purchased powerful automatic weapons. Apparently, both shooters have a long history of mental illness. Laws should prohibit the mentally ill from purchasing firearms.

    I understand that determined criminals will find a way to buy a gun. However, our laws should make it as difficult as possible for them to do so. Many criminals are able to purchase guns as a result the gun show loophole and other lax regulations in neighboring states.