Streams

What The Tuscon Massacre Means For Washington

Monday, January 10, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's a Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Jonathan Alter, correspondent for Newsweek and a columnist for Bloomberg News and The Daily Beast, and James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, talked about the Arizona shootings and the possible consequences of inflammatory political demagoguery. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY 4) and Rep. Eliot Engle (D-NY 17) also called in to talk about how the shootings should change Washington rhetoric, but not deter officials from doing their jobs.

As the country reels from Saturday's assasination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, a tragic event that killed six people, wounded 14 and left the Congresswoman in critical condition, citizens are trying to grasp the implications and roots of the attack.

Was it the vitriolic political rhetoric of the past few years, including Sarah Palin's image of crosshairs on Giffords' district, that drove troubled 22 year-old Jared L. Loughner to unleash his semiautomatic on an innocent crowd? Or was this simply and sadly the result of a disturbed individual, following a twisted personal logic?

On January 8, hours after the tragedy, Fallows wrote a blog post titled The Cloudy Logic of 'Political' Shootings, in which he said that even though it's often difficult to connect the dots between an attacker's motives to the actual beliefs or actions of a victim, "shootings of political figures are by definition 'political,'" that is why we call them 'assassinations' as opposed to 'murder.'" On the Brian Lehrer Show, Fallows listed a number of historical examples of when a bad political climate pushed disturbed individuals to violence (Gandhi, President Kennedy) and suggests that Giffords' incident might be another one.

In this case, it is at least legitimate to look at the possible connection between the surrounding political rhetoric and the act of a deranged and violent person.

Today at 11:00 am eastern time, a moment of silence was observed to honor the victims of the shootings. Jonathan Alter says this is a good start because we need to make "less noise" for a while. But that's not enough, he said. We need to stop tolerating hateful language on both the right and the left.

This doesn't mean we need censorship. It doesn't mean that nobody ever again should use any kind of a military or war-like metaphor... but people do need to be conscious that at a certain point as President Clinton said last year on the 15th anniversary of Oklahoma City, you don't know how these words are going to affect not just the serious but the delirious, and the interaction of hate speech and underlying mental illness can be a very potent combination.

Fallows went a step further, saying this is a moment when people who have used extreme imagery should stand up and say they condemn this type of act. (Sarah Palin did remove the image of crosshairs on Giffords' district from her website.)

One good thing that may come of the tragedy, Alter said, is that Congresswoman Giffords will likely live and she'll be a living reminder of what violent rhetoric and lax gun laws can create. 

Normally if there's a shooting and a death, then everybody mourns the victims and they move on pretty quickly, but if you have a living reminder of the consequences of allowing guns into the hands of the mentally ill, the consequences indirect as they may be of over-the-top rhetoric, then you can see a situation where Gabby Giffords could become a very important national figure who is almost a high credibility referee on some of these issues.

Fallows stressed that we should not let freedom of speech or Democracy be casualties of the catastrophe.

I think the proper response from the citizenry to this episode, in addition to everything else we do about political rhetoric and gun laws and everything else, is to reassert our ability to live and act as free, non-fearful people.

How Washington responds is another issue. In the short-term, all Congressional votes have been cancelled for this week, including one on a repeal of the health care reform bill. Both members of Congress who spoke on the Brian Lehrer Show, Eliot Engle (D-NY) and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) said the tragedy would not deter them from doing their jobs, which involves being in public and meeting with constituents who may have differing views. McCarthy said the Arizona shooting will not change her behavior as a Congresswoman and it is the responsibility of politicians to combatting rhetoric that crosses the line.

There are a lot of angry people out there. I understand certainly their anger on a lot of issues, with the economy we have been going through. We see child abuse and domestic abuse unfortunately going up and those are signs of stress and when people are totally stressed out they do very very foolish things. With that being said, I think politicans do have, in my opinion, a strong responsiblity to set the tone at these debates and meetings and I think putting rhetoric out there does not help the situation.

McCarthy also said she would ensure that gun control is part of the conversation after the attack. (Arizona has some of the most lax gun laws in the country.) Later this week, she'll be introducing legislation to cut back on large capacity clips for guns, which may have been used in the Arizona shooting and were used in the shooting of her husband and son in the Long Island Railroad massacre in 1993. But McCarthy confessed it is difficult to legislate restricted gun access for mentally ill people, because there is no easy way to regulate it.

Listen to the whole Brian Lehrer Episode:

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Comments [59]

Rita from NYC

The issue is not whether the right-wing rhetoric was directly responsible for the shooting, but rather whether such violence was foreseeable. Representatives such as Gifford have been the object of verbal threats and gun-swinging for over a year. We know that there are violent people in this country, and that some are disturbed and have guns. The "OK Corral, Don't Retreat, Reload" metaphors that the Republicans have been tossing around casually for months and months were bound to have bad consequences. They may not be directly responsible, but the violence was foreseeable, and neglecting to see the obvious is a form of responsibility.

Jan. 12 2011 11:21 AM
Christopher from NYC

I see some of our revered "public servants" are responding to this tragedy: NY republican Peter King proposes a law prohibiting gun-toting citizens within 1,000 feet of THEMSELVES! Indiana g.o.p. rep. Dan Burton wants to build a bullet proof wall around Congress while in session. Meanwhile 19 people were shot, 6 killed, mostly civilian, including a 9 year old girl.
The very same politicians, pundits, panderers and profiteers who incite this type of violent rhetoric and behavior now vow to "do the right thing for America" by protecting only THEMSELVES! Cowards.

Jan. 12 2011 11:14 AM
Robert from Brooklyn from Brooklyn

This was a murder by a deranged individual. It is not a reflection on the culture or behavior of the people of our nation. It was not political, and the comments from liberal bastions such as the New York Times strongly implying responsibilty for the murder came from conservatives' statements is at its base an exploitation of a tragic situation for political gain. These comments are not just deplorable, but irresponsibly feed the irrational emotions that arise from such horrific events.

Jan. 12 2011 09:13 AM
avg.joe from the best place to be

I don't understand why aTone Down of all the Hate and Violent Vitriol has anybody all worked up with their pantys in a bunch.Like the TV commercial with the Drill instructor from Full Metal Jacket telling his psychotherapy patient Maybe We can Chug on over to mamby pamby land.....Do it because it's the right thing to do when you're letting us all know that you have Christ in your life....don't tell me you do walk the talk......Together We Stand as Americans....Divided We Fall like little wusses!

Jan. 11 2011 03:30 AM
Basking Ridge Athiest

Hey Glenn, Rush, Sarah and your C Street buddies: Check out Gal 6:7 and Mat 7:12

Jan. 10 2011 07:22 PM
Lance from NJ

Sarah Palin's fault? Poppycock! This is just another example of the media's lack of respect for the feelings of the innocent survivors who lost their loved ones. An opportunistic hijacking of their grief to foster their own petty political agenda, be it anti-Palen rhetoric or gun control. Perhaps Palin came to Loughner in a dream. Loughner could have just as easily driven a car into the meeting probably doing much more damage than he had using just a gun. It is high time personal responsibility is accountable for behavior not an object. The gun did not shoot anyone. the bottle did not jump into anyone's face, the fist abusing a woman's body is not her fault! Like Freud might have said, "Sometimes a psycho is just a psycho." The permissive climate in this country that social behavior is not a personal conscious choice of each individual and is the result of some irresistible collective unconscious force is the root of this problem and not Palin or guns! Poor Loughner is just an innocent victim of social policy. If it were not possible for Loughner to buy a gun and could live in a safe society he would just be another confused teenager trying to individuate himself and find his way in life. Right? BTW: As a kid I've seen hundreds of Indians murdered on TV in something formerly known as a Western. To date, I have not felt compelled to invade a reservation and turn an Uzi any Indians.

Jan. 10 2011 12:03 PM
hilts

Sarah Palin is a demagogue who needs to be shunned and marginalized by Republicans because she doesn't understand how to conduct herself in a civil society.

Jan. 10 2011 12:02 PM
anna from new york

Krugman was mentioned and his column was discussed. I can contribute to this part by posting my response to his column.
"Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right"
This is a dishonest statement. Hate is hate - whether it comes from Glen Beck or Helen Thomas, Fox or Pacifica, Beck or Answer rally. I hear the sickest antisemitic vitriol, including excitement about yet another version of the Protocols from my "progressive" "friend" (naturally increasingly former) just after her daily dose of Pacifica.
The French say "Les extremes se touchent." "Les the extremes" not only "touchent" - they mix, evolve, crossover and influence each other. I am expecting my "friend" to join some local neo-Nazis any day.
We must address the hate propadanda of the left to the same degree we address the hate propaganda of the right."
dr anna

Jan. 10 2011 11:45 AM
anna from new york

I've just turn on the radio, so I don't know what was said. I do have the impression that there is silence about certain facts which might be connected.
The Representative Giffords is Jewish - the guy who shot her is called by others as the "left wing." Did anyone look at antisemitic vitriol of Pacifica and similarly inclined (promotion of the Protocols, for example) and the Answer rallies for possible connections?

Jan. 10 2011 11:37 AM

The Second Amendment gives us the right to own arms, however, do we need to own the most advanced weapons technology can make? If this "disturbed person" wasn't able to purchase a gun that can shoot twenty rounds at a time perhaps fewer people would be dead or wounded today?

Jan. 10 2011 11:33 AM
Christina Megill from Brooklyn

I would like to bring up gun control laws in this situation. During the horrible shooting sprees in schools (Va. Tech.) gun advocates stated "if guns were allowed, this would not have happened". Where were all the gun woners in this parking lot "protecting" themselves and stopping the killer? It speaks volumes. More gun control please.

Jan. 10 2011 11:26 AM
gladys from NJ

Sarah Palin's map is malevolent, tasteless, inflammatory, insane and a dangerous invitation to murder. It can serve as encouragement to any deranged gun-toting individual in an indiscriminately gun-toting society Anyone who can't see the connection is either blind or not too smart. We have abandoned the old fashioned way of 'discussing' differences of opinion with words. By the way, sarcasm is not the same as malicious vitriol - and politicians do meet with the public more than your listener wants to believe. No one is safe - bottom line.

Jan. 10 2011 11:24 AM
Regina Weiss from Brooklyn

Just the same way that calling abortion providers "baby killers" gives people permission to murder doctors, saying that the health care law creates "government death squads" gives people permission to kill lawmakers. It's irresponsible in the extreme.

Jan. 10 2011 11:23 AM
1st Amendment Rights


The First Amendment provides that NO communication -- however distasteful -- can be suppressed unless the government can demonstrate an overriding and narrowly-tailored reason to do so in the public interest. Unstable people will do unstable things, but we all have the right to live in a country where political expression is unchecked.

Jan. 10 2011 11:21 AM
gladys from NJ

Sarah Palin's map is malevolent, tasteless, inflammatory, insane and a few choice adjectives I won't bother with. It can serve as encouragement to any deranged gun-toting individual in our NRA induced society. Anyone who can't see the connection is either blind or not well intentioned. The general idea used to be to 'discuss' differences of opinion with words. Sarcasm is not the same as malicious vitriol - please get out your thesaurus.

Jan. 10 2011 11:17 AM
sopranoatlarge from Manhattan

Sarah Palin may not be directly responsible for this tragedy, but she has, time and time again, exhibited exceedingly poor judgement. The crosshairs map coupled with her directive to 'reload', whatever the political climate, is deeply, deeply irresponsible. The first amendment should be cherished and protected, but let common sense and decency be our guide, not hate.

Jan. 10 2011 11:17 AM
Joe B from Brooklyn

Why doesn't anyone note how the congressmen in Palin's map who had been "taken out" were marked with a RED cross hairs? Sounds like obvious incitement to me.

Jan. 10 2011 11:16 AM
yvonne from Park Slope, Brooklyn


I agree with Burtnor from Manhattan who says "Let’s be clear. The problem is NOT political partisanship, but demonization of opponents, violent imagery, and a 'climate of incitement' ..." and I would like to point out that the real "T" word here is not "terrorism" but "tea party" as not only Palin but, also, Jesse Kelly targeted Giffords with violent imagery.

Correct me if I am wrong but I read somewhere recently that Jesse Kelly, in speaking out against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, used the image of a rifle ... this in addition to Palin putting the image of Giffords in the crosshairs.

I have heard that Palin has taken down the image from her website but I have not heard that Kelly has said or done anything equivalent. Regardless of their supposed intentions people need to be accountable when irresponsible behavior has tragic consequences.

As for which is correct "magazine" or "clip", again correct me if I am wrong, but I thought clip was a now obsolete but not incorrect usage and may say more about the age rather than the knowledge of the speaker.

Jan. 10 2011 11:13 AM

A right wing commentator interviewed on CNN last night cited the Obama "knives and guns" quote to justify and rationalize the rhetoric coming from the right. The CNN host never requested context for that quote. I would like to know exactly what Obama was saying (I'll try to find it) since it is totally out of keeping with anything else he's ever said. And it hasn't been widely brought up as a part of his belief system.

Jan. 10 2011 10:53 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Lincoln from Brooklyn

There may be a false equivalency between the right and left but not Dems and Republicans, they are just two sides of the same corporate payola scheme. I don't see any Dems coming out for peace with the countries and peoples we've victimized with our illegal wars and terror campaigns, nor any bold attempts to reform the blatantly plutocratic society we live in that victimizes, immigrants, the poor and minorities on a daily basis, as a matter of course. The difference between the dems and republicans is purely in rhetorical style. The public stance of any US government stays the same year after year.

Jan. 10 2011 10:49 AM
sunphat from wild west

Check the laws in AZ, concealed carry is not allowed without a permit, just as in NY/C, they can be obtained at varying degrees of difficulty.

What ever happened to the Brady bill? Why are gun sales not strictly regulated or at least tracked, they can locate abandoned car's owners.

Jan. 10 2011 10:46 AM
tom

You'd think after over a decade of being a single issue member of Congress, she'd get the clip vs. magazine thing.

Jan. 10 2011 10:46 AM

BLS: why label this the Tucson Massacre? Seem to add to the inflammatory rhetoric. Also, this may turn out to be more like Virginia Tech and other recent mass shootings by mentally unbalanced young men with access to guns and ammunition.

Jan. 10 2011 10:46 AM
Susan from Manhattan

Gaby Giffords voted for John Lewis, the great 1960s civil rights leader and now Congressman from Georgia, for minority leader. This was not conservative.

Jan. 10 2011 10:45 AM
art525 from Park Slope

It appears so far that the killer is insane and perhaps there was no political agenda in his act (though his ravings do seem to echo the rants of David-Wynn Miller as the guest suggested). Regardless, the right is responsible for our gun culture and their intransigence regarding any sort of gun control is certainly a major contributor to this atrocious act.

Jan. 10 2011 10:45 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

OMG, this woman is the dumbest of all NY's Congress block. This "gun expert" (because her husband was killed by a man with a gun?!?) is such a sad, exploited, pathetic wretch I find it hard to feel any sympathy toward her at all - btw, it's not a "clip", it's a "magazine". Please, just give it up, you have no point to make, you're just another special interest emissary.

Jan. 10 2011 10:43 AM
Lincoln from Brooklyn

So I tuned in a little late and the first thing I heard was Jonathan Alter making the usual false equivalence between the left and right. Wasn't expecting much different, luckily there are podcasts of Planet Money to catch up on. ( Sorry I'm cynical, growing more so every day).

The blogger Driftglass has my perspective better than I can ( ht: americablog, ht: James Walcott )

Quote:
I for one would be genuinely delighted if tonight's heartfelt pleas from Keith Olbermann for everyone to beat their verbal spears into pruning hooks blossomed into an actual movement, but the sad truth is that he could have said exactly the same thing about almost exactly the same people following the Oklahoma City bombing back in the Conservative rage-drunk, Hate-Radio-fueled militia-movements/ black helicopter/ Clinton-is-a-depraved-murderer/ government-workers-are-parasites 1990s.

Rachel Maddow could and did say almost exactly the same thing about almost exactly the same people following the assassination of Dr. George Tiller.

The sad truth is that Hate is the Right's Ring of Power. They're never going to give it up, because they know the minute they do -- the minute they're no longer allowed to pretend that Liberals are evil, freedom-hating fifth-columnist monsters who are dragging America into a Marxist abyss on the secret orders of our Kenyan Usurper Overlord -- their whole ideology would implode...

...they would never win another election...

...and tens of thousands of powerful, well-remunerated insiders from Rush Limbaugh to David Gregory who depend on that hate for their daily bread would suddenly have to go out and find honest work.

/Quote

Jan. 10 2011 10:42 AM
Derek from 42nd & Lex

Why blame the carry conceal firearm law that Arizona has because one mentally ill person brought the gun to the rally. Even if there was a law to ban carry conceal what would stop someone form carrying a firearm. The ink and paper law?

Jan. 10 2011 10:42 AM
Paul

It's called a magazine, not a clip. Get it right.

Jan. 10 2011 10:40 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Completely speculative:

Although Loughner seemed to be dallying on the fringe of anarcho-libertarian politics, he reminds me more of the alienated/delusional/paranoid assassin-type in the mold of Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle (think Hinckley-Reagan and Chapman-Lenon).

At bottom, this is a real tragedy.

Jan. 10 2011 10:36 AM
profwilliams from Montclair

Crazy people do crazy things. It's a fool's game to try to understand why (think a few weeks back to the anniversary of John Lennon's murder).

But here, the idea that Rush- who's been on the air for 20 years- or Palin/Beck, who's been around nationally for 4, or "talk radio" in general, which has been around since the 70's, is somehow responsible makes no sense.

This guy was crazy.

The discussion needs to be about services to the those identified with mental illness as he was.

Everything else is wasting time and opportunistic.

Jan. 10 2011 10:34 AM
tv from lower manhattan

Can you imagine if someone of hispanic origin had shot a republican congressman in arizona? Would the conversation have the same tone? Would conservatives be so wiling to not rush to judgement? I highly doubt it...

Jan. 10 2011 10:34 AM
Amanda from Williamsburg

Abortion doctors have been targeted and killed for years for their service. The right wing vitriol has been stoking acts of violence for a very long time. The concept that we can arm ourselves and take the law into our own hands is, especially in certain extremist circles considered a 'god given right.'

Jan. 10 2011 10:34 AM
EVC from B'klyn

I believe the talk radio purveyors of hate and hate speech: Palin, Beck, Limblow, O"Reilly, Make Savage, and the others ought to be muzzled. This is not free speech but thinly veiled [and deniable] incitement to violence: ie Palin's 'crosshair' map, threats to exercise 2nd Amendment remedies... can the Ultra Right continue to hide behind the 1st Amendment. If elected officials continue to cower at the wrath of the NRA and the gun lobby and fail to take action on handguns and muzzle the hate speakers, than the networks and advertisers who pay their salaries ought to be targeted.

Jan. 10 2011 10:34 AM
Jay F.

If Palin is to be blamed for the crosshair ad then perhaps the television stations that ran those ads should also be blamed...

Jan. 10 2011 10:32 AM
JC from Nyck

I know plenty of responsible gun owners who clearly understand the fact that every time they pull the trigger they own every round sent downrange, regardless of its trajectory or whether it hits its intended target or goes wildly off. I would say its the same with our words with one important distinction; firearms are limited in their range and scope while words can have a much broader impact for both good and ill.

Jan. 10 2011 10:30 AM
Estelle from Austin

While some small amount of blame may be placed on politics, guns, etc., the elephant in the room that we dismiss time and time again when tragedies like this occur is mental illness.

Surely there are major changes we can make to our attitudes and our public policies in this country, regarding mental health, that would make real progress in preventing tragedies like this. Not to mention abetting homelessness, drug abuse, domestic violence...the list goes on and on.

So the real question is: What can Washington do to lead America to acknowledge the importance of mental health in our lives and in our society, and to start making real changes?

Jan. 10 2011 10:30 AM
Paul from Ridgewood NJ/NYC

It's about time that this seriously inflammatory speech be curtailed, hopefully voluntarily. But I don't trust the extremists of the far right to tone it down - this is where virtually all this type of vitriol is emanating from.

This repeated hate speech might ultimately be likened to "...falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic..." and forbidden by law. But I wouldn't be envious of those on the panel that decides such issues.

Jan. 10 2011 10:29 AM
tom from nyc

Brian and Mr Alter ar talking about mental health and gun control before making the obvious point: right wing extremism has gotten out of hand. Has anyone really listened to Rush Limbaugh lately? Just imagine a grown man screaming, "HELL NO WE WON"T" to a watered down, highly compromised bill designed to help out with our health care bills.

Jan. 10 2011 10:29 AM
Burtnor from Manhattan

Let’s be clear. The problem is NOT political partisanship, but demonization of opponents, violent imagery, and a "climate of incitement."

Candidates talk about “lock and load,” “don’t retreat, reload,” “second amendment remedies," “Democracy watered by the blood of patriots,” the government is “evil” and must be brought down. Gunsight crosshairs on political maps, ads featuring assault rifles -- all from the right.

Guns plus mental illness plus inflammatory, violent rhetoric = tragedy. Why must we assign blame to only one factor? We can and must address all three issues.

Jan. 10 2011 10:28 AM
Phil from Park slope

One of Obama's notable policies (or triangulations) has been to ignore the gun control issue, despite paranoid howls from the right. Is he going to be forced into the issue now?

Jan. 10 2011 10:26 AM
John from Upper west Side (W78th St)

I think people like Sarah Palin, Jesse Kelly and Joyce Coffman should be held culpable and prosecuted for this shooting in Arizona. I do believe that the supreme court ruled on this and to this end they should be sent to jail for incitement of this shooting and let it be a lesson to politicians especially the GOP that they can't just spew this kind of rhetoric and expect that nothing will happen.

Jan. 10 2011 10:26 AM
superf88

Another talking point perhaps-

Businessman John Wheeler interacted with numerous workers who chose not to contact police despite observing a person who needed help. A few hours later he was dead.

Community College students observed crazy behavior on one of their fellow students but chose to ignore.

In these times, after these incidents, should we not reconsider our responsibility to our fellow neighbor?

If for no other reason than he might shoot us?

Jan. 10 2011 10:25 AM
David from Brooklyn

On the comparison of McVeigh and Loughner, what's the threshold of coherence of political rationale for action, of ideology, that we're adopting here? I don't want to force the comparison, but I also think we miss the point of partial and misguided -- and potentially dangerous -- political perspectives if we pathologize incoherent views and dismiss perpetrators as insane crackpots or lunatics.

Jan. 10 2011 10:24 AM
bernie from bklyn

just because this guy didn't have the intense beliefs that mcveigh had doesn't mean that the rhetoric from the right wing didn't cause this. he's one of the weak among us and obviously know that there is a line that shouldn't be crossed even when popular figures like sarah palin and sharon angle incite all to violence. yes, puting crosshairs on giffords distirct and saying 2nd amendment rights can solve political differences is incitement to violence. they have blood on their hands and should be ashamed of themselves.

Jan. 10 2011 10:23 AM
Dorian from New York

I can't help but think that some of the people advocaring gun rights and using violent speech are also ones who would cut funding to treat mental illness.

Jan. 10 2011 10:21 AM
Jeremy from Harlem

Well said, Carl from Decatur.

Jan. 10 2011 10:21 AM
profwilliams from Montclair, NJ

Brian,

Ask Alter if he was as worried when Obama said:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun...”

See Politico from 6/14/08:

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0608/Obama_brings_a_gun_to_a_knife_fight.html

Jan. 10 2011 10:20 AM
bob from huntington

gail collins - "the right to bear glocks?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/opinion/10collins.html?_r=1&hp

Jan. 10 2011 10:19 AM
citi

Is her religion a factor?

Jan. 10 2011 10:18 AM
bob from huntington

please see today's gail collins column "right to bear glocks?" in today's new york times which examines how arizona has some of the least restrictive laws regarding carrying concealed weapons.
it also discusses how wildly out of date gun laws are with respect to today's rapid-firing handguns--which, apparently, even an individual with a verifiable record of mental instability can legally purchase.

Jan. 10 2011 10:17 AM
7eco from Germany

I haven't heard much discussion concerning gun rights in this matter.

I think it's noteworthy that a mentally disturbed man was able to lawfully obtain a gun and was overpowered by unarmed bystanders, after he shot a judge who fought against the Brady law (named after the Reagan press secretary who was left disabled after the Reagan assassination attempt in 1981).

I really hope that this tragic concatenation of characteristic events may give people pause for thought how flawed the logic of gun ownership "for personal protection" actually is.

Jan. 10 2011 10:16 AM
Carl from Decatur, GA

I think this tragedy should remind us that no right promised in the Bill of Rights, including the right to bear arms, is absolute. Giving people the right to carry concealed automatic handguns diminishes our rights to free speech and free assembly. I'm not saying we need to outlaw all guns, but I think we do need to recognize the ways that total freedom to bear arms--which seems to be more or less what is in place in Arizona--diminishes other freedoms essential to our democracy.

Jan. 10 2011 10:15 AM

the brown shirts are coming
the brown shrits are coming....

Jan. 10 2011 10:15 AM
Frank from NYC

Hypocrisy Alert: Since not motive has been revealed from this obviously troubled young man, this is an over reach to get people to speak less - with the clear target being conservative talkers and the Tea Party. How ironic all this would be under the guise of "it's a free country."

Jan. 10 2011 10:15 AM
George Hahn from Manhattan

It would be ridiculous to claim that Sarah Palin and her Tea Party ilk is responsible for the Arizona shooting. But I would confidently say that their rhetoric is IRRESPONSIBLE. The woman has no business assuming any leadership position.

Jan. 10 2011 10:14 AM
Raconteuse from Brooklyn Heights & Manhattan

Haven't we rehashed this incident enough? Doesn't this happen all too often in this country? Ms. Gifford herself owns a Glock! I haven't been able to find any news about the rest of the world--and it's a very big one out there--since this occurred. The network news programs covered nothing but Tucson, a bloody American football and the upcoming storm on both Saturday and Sunday. Ban guns already! The US also supplies the Mexican drug cartels with weaponry.

Jan. 10 2011 10:13 AM
Kevin from Brooklyn

This whole sad event makes John Stuart's rally on Washington DC for civility and sanity seem a bit less silly.

Jan. 10 2011 10:09 AM
tom from astoria

I can hear Fox News through the door and just the other day i commented to a friend that the rhetoric is extreme and scary. What we could hear was "Do you understand what they're doing!" followed by a long pause, over and over again. The idea was that the federal government was invading our lives with programs like ObamaCare and ruining our futures with deficits... And it needed to Stop Now. Please don't miss the fact that this comes from one direction --the right -- not the other.

Jan. 10 2011 10:07 AM

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