'Tucson shooting' and guns make easy time crime

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By Andrew Revord
News Editor
It seems like, as a nation, we have come to almost come to expect a tragic shooting to occur ever so often.  And with a tragic shooting also comes the expectation that someone or something will be blamed for its occurrence.  The Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and wounded U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz. is no different.
This time, Sarah Palin, the tea party and America’s ridiculously partisan and polarized political culture have been accused of motivating shooter Jared Lee Loughner to commit this terrorist act.

But the people and things on the list above are hardly the real culprits for Loughner’s violence.  The real problems are gun laws which allow any nutjob to buy a weapon and a culture that believes that violence is a necessary way to solve our problems.
To be sure, Palin did post a map of the U.S. on her webpage during the 2010 campaign with crosshairs on several Democratic congressional districts, including Giffords’.
Also, there have been instances where tea party members have shown up at rallies with signs bearing threatening slogans and quotes, such as this gem from Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
And yes, little even needs to be said about the extremely partisan nature of American politics in the past few years, in which every side has come to portray as a battle between “us” and “them.”
But all of these are just the tip of the iceberg at best and completely irrelevant at worst.
For starters, very little is known about Loughner or his political motivations; they don’t seem to fit comfortably into either the “left” or “right” of the political spectrum.
What we do know is that he seems to have been planning to attack Giffords as late as three years ago, before Obama was elected, the tea party was formed or anyone knew who Sarah Palin was.
Even if Loughner was a devout Palin follower or, for that matter, some sort of liberal extremist, he wouldn’t have posed any real threat had he not been able to acquire any weapons, such as the Glock pistols he used in the attack, which he bought from a local gun store.
Of course, even the strictest of background checks won’t guarantee that nobody ever gets guns who shouldn’t, but Loughner is the latest in a trend of cases where a shooter who had long displayed signs of instability but was still able to buy guns.
This was the same story for the Virginia Tech shooter, the Fort Hood shooter and so many others.
There is a popular notion that Americans need guns to defend themselves from any situation, be it someone who breaks into a house, a foreign invasion or anything in between.
Arizona, the state Giffords and Loughner both call home, is known for having extremely loose gun laws in a nation that hates gun regulations. Arizonans are even allowed to openly carry firearms.
In in ideal world, looser gun laws such as this would allow citizens to have stopped people like Loughner before he could carry out his attack.
Instead, it just meant that another dangerous person was able to acquire deadly weapons with ease, and no gun-toting Arizonan even attempted to stop him. The Second Amendment serves its purposes, but arming every idiot in America who wants a gun is not one of them.
Equally responsible is the political culture that strips every public figure and member of the “other side” of their humanity.
It is one thing to be highly principled; the amount of partisanship in America is regrettable but not responsible for the Tucson shootings. America has and should agree to disagree with itself. It is another thing to act as though one’s opponents never have good intentions and that somehow, they aren’t real people anymore.
President Bush was called a Nazi, a dictator and a criminal for starting the Iraq war, among other things. Obama was a closet communist and radical Muslim who secretly wanted to destroy America. Oh, and he, like Bush, was also a Nazi.
Congress, regardless of who controls it, is always working against the American people. Commentators on the far left and right like Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann constantly characterize their opponents as little more than threats to America.
Attitudes like these are the same ones that are always used during wars to justify one group of people killing another. During World War II, the Nazis were particularly skilled at this.
The Americans, Russians, British and the other allied nations were ridiculed and dehumanized in German propaganda. And let’s not forget how the Nazis portrayed the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other “undesirables” to justify the Holocaust.
When people’s opponents are turned into little more than cartoon characters, is it any wonder that people like Loughner would have no difficulty committing his crime?