Where to begin? Jared Loughner's deadly rampage last week in which he wounded a Member of Congress and 12 others, killed a Federal Judge and a little girl among others has sparked a debate across the country about a couple of subjects.
By all accounts, Loughner appears to be smooth running crazy. His mental condition, which seemed tenuous at best, deteriorated in the period of time before he showed up at that Tucson shopping mall where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was making herself available for her constituents. Indeed, the New York Times reports that the night before the incident, Loughner took pictures of himself in a g-string variously pointing the Glock he had recently purchased at his buttocks and his crotch.
I'm no psychiatrist but it would seem to me that there's a lot going on there.
Obviously, this idiot had no business with a handgun, even given the fairly non-existent standards for carrying a concealed weapon in gun happy Arizona. But the better question to me is: Who, apart from law enforcement, has an absolute right to carry a 9mm with a 31 bullet magazine? Does one really need that much ordinance for personal protection? Loughner had 2 other clips on him. Thank God a couple of brave souls jumped on him before he could reload and wreak more carnage.
The Supreme Court recently held that the District of Columbia's blanket ban on handguns in the District violated the 2nd Amendment. OK. Fine. But many if not all of our constitutional rights are subject to reasonable regulation by the government. I may fervently believe that my religion allows me to have sex with teenage girls. But that's not a defense to a Mann Act charge. Ask Tony Alamo.
Why are guns sacrosanct and exempt from more stringent regulation? Again, is it absolutely necessary to possess exotic weaponry to be secure in your home and on your person? Do we really like the idea of the Jared Loughners of this world being able to outgun your average cop? Or your average Arizonian even? Handguns are good for one thing and one thing only: Killing people. Do you NRA types really believe that the occasional Virginia Tech type massacre or a Jared Loughner going off on innocent people exercising THEIR constitutional right to peaceably assemble is the price we pay for freedom?
I sure as hell don't. And I don't think that any of responsible gun owners that I know do either.
The second topic of conversation kick started by this tragedy is a discussion about the language used in our political discourse in recent years. Specifically, some folks blamed Sarah Palin's PAC whose website had cross hairs on certain congressional districts targeted for defeat by it. Congresswoman Giffords' District was under those cross hairs. Which she complained about.
Predictably, Palin issued a statement in which she said blaming her for this tragedy was "reprehensible" and a "blood libel." Leave it to a narcissist like Palin to equate criticism with an ancient and despicable lie about Jews. Gabby Giffords damn near gets her head blown off and Palin's the victim here? Please.
But I agree with her in that from what we seem to know about Jared Loughner, he was more motivated by the "silicone switch inside his head" than politics of any conventional sort. For instance, Loughner seemed to be enamored with the theory that the government imposes rules of grammar to enslave the populace. Which makes Glenn Beck's ravings seem positively Lockean by comparison.
Again, I am no psychiatrist, but it seems to me Gabby Giffords got herself shot because she is an attractive and powerful woman. Which made her an apt target for a punk like Loughner, who did not enjoy much of a track record with the ladies. And then there's that g-string and gun thing. No, this wasn't an attempt at political assassination. 2 of the victims just happened to be government officials. This could have just as easily happened to an attractive movie star making a public appearance. Hell, this could have happened to Sarah Palin.
But I do have a suggestion.
After 9/11, the sportswriters and sportscasters pretty much made the collective decision to quit using metaphors of war to describe sports. So you don't hear much about players being "heroes" or references to "bravery" or "courage" on the field of play. This is because such references are inappropriate when the United States has troops in harms way.
If the sportswriters can tone it down, why can't the politicians? References to "taking an opponent out" or resorting to a "2nd Amendment solution" to political issues are inappropriate and may serve to inflame the less stable amongst us. And even scarier, the less stable amongst the Tea Party.
Indeed, condoning such intemperate talk is unAmerican if not downright treasonous. There. I said it.
So shoot me.