Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Tucson Shooting

This morning I delayed delivering the paper as we had received about 6 inches of snow overnight. As a result, I was out and about between 6-8:00 AM which meant that I was driving in the light for about half of my route. For the most part, the main roads were completely clear and virtually all of the streets I encountered were plowed. My only difficulty was the occasional turnarounds that I do in customers' driveways and the fact that many had not cleared them yet. But any minor turnaround issue was more than made up by the scenery of the morning, especially in the time when it is light but the sun has not quite risen. There was a white and silver sheen of snow on the trees and telephone wires which was very pretty indeed.

The past weekend's horrific shooting spree in Tucson which claimed the life of six people and left many more wounded, elicited some strong discussions about both the vitriolic discourse careening across our airwaves and the status of gun control in America.

While I certainly agree that the nature of our political discourse has been very extreme, I don't think it is possible to know what transpired in the mind of the young man who committed this crime. But I have heard it said, and have said it before, words matter. As long as the talking heads, radio talk show hosts, TV commentators, etc, continue to cater to the extreme ideologues on each side, as long as conflict, and three people talking at once, and screaming sell advertisement time, as long as we, the audience, continue to settle for superficial blabbering rather than meaningful debate, then there will be individuals, already on the edge who will find subtle and not so subtle encouragement to address today's issues with violence.

Which brings us to gun control.

It dawned on me today that, again, part of the problem with meaningful gun control is that the issue has been framed by the people who are opposed to it. It is too easy to fire up a certain portion of the public by turning all attempts at gun control into a litmus test about the Second Amendment. Assault weapons are clearly not needed in a civilized society (they certainly didn't exist in the time of our founding fathers) but banning their use becomes an attack on our right to bear arms, even though so few people in this country choose to purchase an assault weapon.

So, perhaps we need to begin calling this issue violence control. Isn't that what we are really attempting to reduce; the number and severity of violence and violent acts. Certainly, no one is for more violence! Banning multi-round cartridges like that used by the Tucson shooter would not be gun control, but an attempt at violence control. Restricting the type of weapons that can be purchased, certain assault weapons for instance, is an attempt to reduce the violence that results when such a weapon is fired. Requiring that someone notify the police if they lose their handgun, again, becomes an attempt to reduce the violence that might be committed by the thief.

Since the Tucson shooting, I have heard more than one person say that if more people had been carrying guns, the shooter may not have done so much damage. In other words, had more people been shooting in that crowded parking lot, there would have been less violence. Does that sound right? I would hazard to guess that had more people had weapons, more people would have been shot; perhaps less shot by the disturbed young man but probably more overall due to "accidental" hits. Am I wrong?

On the other hand, if no one had a gun, then no one would have been shot.

Violence control; are you for it or against it?


  1. Joe:

    It is easy to see that you don't have many of the facts right about guns in your blog, and of course virtually nothing about accountablity for those who use guns and other tools to commit violence.

    An "assault weapon" is a select fire (semi and full automatic), shoulder fired (not a pistol), intermediate caliber weapon. A real assualt weapon is an M-16, AK-41 or MP-44. These weapons are hard to hide while walking around. A pistol or handgun is what the sociopath Jared used in his assassination attempt/killing spree.

    Semiauto pistols, like the Glock 19, have remained about the same for 100 years. Newer models can carry up to about 15 rounds, yet some can carry larger 30 rounders like what Jared used. Semiauto weapons have been very common in America for decades, but why was crime so low here before the 1960's? The real fault for high crime and more mass killings has been the liberalization of the criminal justise system. Gun control is irrelevant. The people and their culture and their laws are what are relevant.

    All the gun control measures, and then some are in effect in Mexico, and do nothing to stop the violence. Felons here were quickly hung and treated more properly before the 1960's. Liberals and socialists with their broken ideas are the problem. I thank God we still have some of our Constitution left.

    1. Dr. B Cal,

      The acceptance and normalization of degeneracy in our society by both those who call themselves "Liberals" and "Conservatives" is the problem, and both grous have played an equal part in the destruction of the Constitution.

      The game of each side criticizing one another and pretending to be opposing sides when in reality they are essentially the same (save for some minor differences on certain topics) just makes them and America the laughing stock of the world.

  2. Dr B. Cal,

    Thanks for your comments and for adding to my understanding of guns. I appreciate that you took the time to read my blog and responded in a civil manner.

    It sounds like you might agree with me that the real problem is violence and the people who use violence to address their problems, whether they be mentally unstable like the Tucson shooter, victims of various forms of abuse, etc, or just individuals who are repeat violators of the generally accepted laws which govern are interactions with each other. As it is documented that the truly violent among us committ a disproportionate number of violent crimes, I can understand your desire for a return to the time of "quick" justice.

    I would also assume that the recent capture of the "Kensington strangler" would be a case where you would support quick and fatal justice. And, on the face of it, I would be hardpressed to disagree. Assuming this young man is guilty as the DNA evidence suggests, he certainly seems deserving of the most harshest punishment.

    But, please consider this. He is only in his early 20's. While clearly, neither you nor I engaged in anything nearly as heinous as his crimes, I am sure we made our share of youthful mistakes. Do you believe that this young man is incapable of rehabilitation? Or are you saying he doesn't deserve the chance?

    Currently, there are countries in the world that still punish criminals by hanging, amputations, castrations, etc. They are generally in countries that have totalitarian governments and/or are governed, not by the rule of law but by some type of religious rule. The United States is actively engaged in a war against the Taliban who are notorious for their barbaric treatment of people who disobey their laws. I guess what I am saying is that treating criminals like animals is a social trend that seems to be falling out of favor for most civilized societies but is still in use for those where human life is less valued. As you say, it is the people and their culture that is relevant.

    At the end of the day, I wholeheartedly agree with you that I am thankful for our Constitution, but I have to say that I do not thank God, I thank the founding fathers who authored the document and the enlightened men who work to keep its spirit alive.

    Of course, the debate remains as to whether that spirit is alive in liberals or conservatives. I would like to think it is alive in both groups but manifests itself in different thoughts and actions.

    Again, thanks for your comments; feel free to comment again or if you would like to contact me directly; JPUGNETTI@HOTMAIL.COM