Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tragedy in Tucson, Arizona: Revisiting laws that allow twisted minds and extremists among us to obtain firearms?

Wailing and crying filled the parking lot of a Safeway store in Tucson yesterday afternoon. There were pains and sorrows written all in the air as one of the extreme members of our society went on a shooting spree, plucking down six innocent citizens and maiming for life another fourteen. Yet, Americans are arguing about the need for controlling gun sales, they are arguing about the freedom to bear arms, they are doubting if anyone should be associating extremist speeches from politicians and extreme groups that are splintered all over the nation, with what happened yesterday. The blog today attempts to visit the traumatic events of Saturday in the parking lot of a Tucson grocery store that have led to the deaths of innocent people.

Words are like eggs, once broken, they are hard to retract. Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, the Democratic Representative to congress from Tucson, who is still fighting for her life, was close to being assassinated, for doing what she is best at doing: listening to members of her constituent. Ms. Gifford, who lost one of her bright staff members in the rampage, a 30-year old, was reported to be the main target of the shooting. When her dad was asked who hated her child enough to want to assassinate her, his response: “everyone in the Tea Party.” Three-term Congresswoman Gifford fought a bitter re-election campaign last November and triumphed, in spite of the Tea Party challenge. In a press conference, the straight talking but emotional Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, attempted to downplay any current danger to the community and lawmakers, but added the following: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous….And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” Isn’t this interesting?

Walk around the makeshift memorial before the hospital where the injured are receiving treatment and around the parking lot where mayhem ran loose, courtesy of twenty-two year old Jared Lee Loughner, an extreme member of our society who took it upon himself to assassinate a U.S. Federal Judge and five others, including an innocent nine year old, and you smell the pains and pangs of death. When you watch the media, especially the cable television outlet report this unfortunate incident, your eyes get misty and you ask the question: Why? Why all this chaos? Is it for the sake of the welfare of the people, an ideology, a law, a party affiliation or extremism? Why has all this happened? What has moved this man to unleash horror on Tucson and innocent families? Why are bent minds allowed to own guns? Why are politicians, who for lack of better words are opportunistic, allowed to lead the debate of issues that affect the state and the welfare of ordinary people?

I went to late night school and probably missed a lot in my understanding of the English Language Composition; however, anytime I read the following comment from a politician: “Commonsense conservatives and lovers of American don’t retreat, instead RELOAD!” I become nervous. This type of vitriolic can do more harm than good; and, as Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Arizona, a man who has been in law enforcement for more than 40-years puts it, it is time to tune down the hate rhetoric around the nation. It is time to get back to civility and stop spreading rumors and hate! The type of words coming out of some extreme right politicians' mouth has probably made it possible for a demented mind like the rampage shooter to take an action that has led to regret for many, including innocent members of our society, who could hardly care about what type of politics anyone plays or leans toward. This is why the misadventure of Saturday is very regrettable, both for politicians in the right and left of political spectrum, including community leaders across the country.

There was consternation that Congresswoman Gifford’s vote for the health care law landed her in the face book imagery page of one of the Tea Party’s favorite politicians, where she advertised the shot congresswoman as a politician to go after in the last midterm election. This fact and other associated furor regarding what a democratic government stands for, may actually distort the perception of a twisted mind. There is information indicating that the attempted assassin and alleged murderer had written to the congresswoman in the past three years, including some communications that are considered non-threatening. There is no attempt to indicate that the favorite Tea Party politician, who entered a map on her web page riddled with crosshairs targeting Democrats in vulnerable congressional districts, including the attempted assassinated Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s is to blame for Mr. Loughner’s rampage, however, you wonder if this could not have contributed?

The resemblance of a thing is not the thing itself. No one can surely rule out or rule in a connection. However, maybe it is time to re-visit the vitreous comments going around the nation. Imagine a WEB entry in the last 24 hours regarding the attempted assassination of Representative Gifford: 1) “I’m sure Gifford’s felt the Devil biting her ass. She’s cheated him for now, but someday she will be his bride (VOX 863)”; and 2) “Liberals are many times more hateful and rabid then conservatives - don't believe me? (Xmansv)” These types of hateful and violent speeches resonate with members of the Tea Party and make many people in civil society, nervous. Could comments as these on switchboards excite blurred minded people like Jared Lee Loughner and encourage them to unleash the type of mayhem that took place in the Tucson, Arizona parking lot yesterday? Your guess is as good as mine.

There are extremists, centrists and liberals among us. The chances that an extremist, centrist or liberal would commit mayhem like what we saw yesterday in Tucson is probably equal for the three groups. The overall number of homicides committed by mentally ill people can only be determined or shown by candid statistics from the FBI, local policies office or government agencies tracking such information, including the US Census Board, Department of Commerce. Even with that, we may not be able to make completely error-proof statements as to why the twisted among us resort to violence to show their displeasure. The chances of us experiencing the mayhem of yesterday may not be totally attributed to the comments made by a people from a particular political or philosophical affiliation. What is essential now is that our lawmakers look into laws and policies, Federal and State that will permanently correct the chances of anyone who is twisted and may cause mayhem, from being in possession of a firearm. The fact that Mr. Loughner has been identified as mentally ill should have prevented him from being able to buy a firearm. Only by confronting the failures of the laws and policies on books, that have made it possible for the mentally sick to obtain firearms, would we be able to save ourselves, the type of grief Mr. Loughner had brought on the nation. We cannot ignore a system that is flawed, which continues to make it possible for anyone to buy guns and ammunition as they please, and pretend that homicides from the mentally sick around our nation will decline.

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