I've been reading the commentary on the horrible shooting of Representative Gifford, The Hon. John Roll, and many others.
Here are some posts from folks I read regularly to give some perspective.
Andy Love's at Fair and Unbalanced: Tragic and Inevitable
Above the Law's Elie Mystal: Sarah Palin doesn't kill people. Guns, on the other hand. . .
Popehat: "Tragedy Generates Stupidity"
This is a divisive issue. The vitriol on all sides is incredible. Pro-gun advocates are "gun nuts" and Opponents are "anti-gun nuts." Seriously. This is the status of the popular debate over gun regulation. I am an admin on the Justia Facebook page, and we get commentary from all over country on this stuff--I am not making this up.
It's true we need to take the politics out of this issue, at least as the main focus. Obviously the shooter was seriously mentally ill, and not motivated by a coherent political ideology. However, I will say this: Republicans, what does it say about the rhetoric of your party and your media supporters that the immediate, gut reaction of the American public* was "Holy shit someone finally took Sarah Palin seriously and shot a Democrat" ? Do you see this? To me, it says we were all expecting something like this to happen. That is a problem, and you need to fucking do something about it.
On the gun issue, I think I'm what you might call a moderate (or, in crazy time parlance, a gun apologist). I actually do support the right of citizens to own handguns and rifles. Not semi-automatic weapons. Up to a limited number. Once they pass stringent background checks. With regular re-licensing requirements. I'm a Californian: I say regulate the shit out of it.
The fact that the shooter legally had a gun means that something is wrong with the law, and unless you think schizophrenics should own semi-automatic weapons, then you should support a change in that law.
You know what else you should support? Care for the mentally ill. I don't know who was looking out for this guy, but he was kicked out of school for erratic behavior, is believed to be schizophrenic, and was in desperate need of intervention and care. We need something like, I don't know, national health care reform to get people like this off the street and the treatment they require. Think about this. Seriously, before opening your mouth to flap your jaw about socialism, think for a moment. How did the shooter get to this place? Did this kid have primary care? Did he have someone to turn to when he heard voices? Did his parents have support to help him? Do you think that increased governmental regulation would have been worth the cost of these and future victims' lives? I know--I just used a tragedy to push my own agenda. I just can't find another way around this issue except to say that it's about mental illness, and social services and health care are the only two avenues that I know of to help with this.
Oy. Sorry for the ranty post, I'm just so disturbed by what happened--but I'm increasingly more disturbed by the commentary
in its wake. I'm open to thoughts and criticism. Hit me up.
*based on proven statistical accuracy of Facebook and Twitter feeds. In my defense, I was watching the Twitter stream on Google, not just my followers
Just added: Today's post on Jezebel, focusing on treatment for mental illness--nicely written