Yesterday’s shooting in Arizona  is undoubtedly a tragedy, the fact that people died is horrible, and that the primary target was an elected representative of the people is horrendous.
I can’t describe how sickened I am by the actions of the shooter. I’m incredibly saddened for the loss of six innocent lives, especially the loss of a 9-year-old girl  who attended the event, having recently been elected to her school’s student council, so that she could meet Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Of particular note is that this girl was born on the day of 9/11, and whilst any loss of innocent life is tragic, the fact that we have lost one of the children who represents the hope of life going on despite the best efforts of terrorists, is even more tragic under the circumstances.
I am incredibly shocked and saddened by all of this, and my heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by this terrible and tragic event.
I’m am very pleased to hear that Mrs. Giffords survived. The initial reports of her demise were horrifying to say the least, and I was incredibly relieved when the hospital announced that she was still alive. The good news is that, although Mrs. Giffords is still in a critical condition, doctors have confirmed that the bullet did not enter both hemispheres of her brain, something which apparently makes her recovery much more likely.
President Obama has called for a moment of slience tomorrow  at 11am US Eastern Time (3am Canberra time). I fully intend on honouring this request and I would ask you to join me…if not at 3am, then at some time tomorrow.
With the immediate repercussions of the shooting out of the way, I must express my extreme disappointment with those who have sought to politicise the dreadful event. There have been people trying to blame the right-wing for this, people trying to blame the left-wing for this, people claiming that the US needs tighter (and unconstitutional) gun laws, and even people (Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, I’m looking at you) claiming that freedom of speech is somehow to blame and that people need to take in to account the possible ways that insane people might misinterpret things, before people open their mouth. I mean really, what utter nonsense.
The pure fact of the matter here is that the alleged shooter is nuts. His rambling blogs and videos are enough proof of that .
Loughner was kicked out of Pima Community College following a series of run-ins with school officials and police at the colleges where he frequently caused disruptions in classrooms and elsewhere on campus, according to The Arizona Republic.
The tensions with school officials led to Loughner’s production of a YouTube video in which he declared the college illegal, the newspaper reports.
The college said Loughner could only return if he received mental-health clearance, according to The Arizona Republic.
Loughner is suspected of posting a series of YouTube videos that show a focus on literacy and currency — as well as his distrust in the government.
“The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America’s Constitution. You don’t have to accept the federalist laws,” the video’s titles say. “In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in god!”
(h/t Fox News )
The second United States Constitution? The government controlling minds with grammar? You look at this tripe and “delusional” is about the most favourable description that you can reach.
Then there are the claims about this guy’s affiliations with various groups (which are being described as right-wing but certainly aren’t representative of what the majority of people would view as “right-wing”) which are denying any involvement with him, and books which he claims to like (such as “The Communist Manifesto”, although you’d have to draw a very very long bow to believe that he adheres to that text).
There are a lot more people claiming that he is a right-wing extremist than there are people claiming that he is a left-wing extremist…but they’re both wrong. He is an extremist for sure, but a very sporadic extremist whose views seem to be based on fantasy and delusion.
It’s easy to discount the notion of him being a right-wing extremist based on the fact that he targeted Gabrielle Giffords, a moderate Democrat who voted against Nancy Pelosi (the person who most on the right despise more than any others in the House) for Speaker recently and is a supporter of gun rights.
It’s equally easy to dismiss the idea of the suspect being a left-wing extremist as Mrs. Giffords also supported some of the favoured items of the left including the economic bailouts and Obamacare, and is a pro-choice advocate on abortions.
Neither side of the divide is responsible for this atrocity. The only person responsible is the shooter. A suspect is in custody and, if he is guilty, it’s plainly obvious that his own problems were to blame for this incident, not the actions of others.
On that note, we move on to the argument which has reared its ugly head again: the idea that the US needs to limit gun ownership. Patently absurd. The only thing which gun control does is give the bad guys an unfair advantage as they will continue to trade illegally in guns long after the innocent have been disarmed by the state…and then when the gun supply becomes even more limited (as is the case here in Australia) the bad guys switch to knives and blood-filled syringes. I know that I’d rather face a gun with a gun any day, rather than face a knife or a blood-filled syringe unarmed. It is also worth noting that another person in the crowd shot at the gunman, an action which may have saved lives and quite possibly distracted the gunman from his targets…also of note is the actions of the brave people who tackled and restrained the gunman, and definitely saved lives.
It should also be noted that banning guns is not a solution, nor is gun ownership a problem. If guns were responsible for killing people, Switzerland (with its estimated three million guns in circulation, in a population of just under 8 million) would have the highest gun-related death rate in the world (instead they had 64 deaths or near-deaths as a result of gun-related violence in 2006…if you can find a more up-to-date figure, do let me know…and no, I’m not interested in the imaginary “300” figure dreamt up by anti-gun politicians in that country). Instead they prove my point that an effective standoff is the best defence as people who wish to harm others with guns know that any attempt to do so is likely to end badly for them…unlike a country like Australia where if, hypothetically speaking, a person were to go on a rampage in the Sydney CBD, many dozens of people would be injured before police could react.
Of course I hope and pray that such a thing will never occur, but it only takes one nut with a gun, and the innocent people nearby will be wishing that they had a gun to put an end to the nut’s reign of terror.
I continue to hope and pray for the swift and thorough recovery of all who were injured in the shooting, and I join in the mourning for those whose lives were tragically lost.
If there is one thing which can be learnt from this event, it is that security needs to be more well thought out for politicians’ public events. The fact that civilians were solely responsible for stopping the shooter speaks volumes to the lack of security at this event. This is where the focus should be…not on political point scoring over the alleged actions of one deranged individual.