January 13, 2011
Shooting 'Solutions' Exploit Tragedy, Ignore GriefBy Jan LaRue
We are a nation in grief once again, mourning Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona.
But we will get through it if we do what Americans always do -- call on a merciful and loving God, honor those who died, care for survivors and their families, recognize the heroes, and seek justice. It doesn't take an expert in grief counseling to know pain and what helps or hinders getting through the process.
Three months ago, my husband of almost 51 years died in my arms. His body gave out after suffering the ravages of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and kidney failure. He lived and died with enduring grace, ready to meet his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Some days, it seems like the well of tears will never run dry. Family, friends, neighbors, and my church family have helped by their presence, prayers, and provisions. They've recalled with me fond memories of my beloved best friend. Remembering the efforts of the EMT responders who tried to save him and the police officers who stayed and offered their assistance is also a comfort.
It is inconceivable that people who claim to care about the Tucson victims and their families are exploiting death and suffering for petty political advantage. Educated people in positions of influence and authority who should know better are compounding rather than relieving grief.
Before the victims were removed from where they fell in the Safeway Supermarket parking lot, leftist bloggers, politicians, and political pundits blamed the "Tea Party" for creating a "climate of hate" that incited Jared Loughner, the alleged shooter, to commit mass murder. They did so without a scintilla of evidence that Loughner was influenced by the Tea Party or any conservative commentator or organization. Examples can be seen here, here, here, here, and here.
The alleged shooter's mental defects aren't the only ones in question.
The investigation has revealed thus far that Loughner has had several drug-related arrests. A former classmate called him "left-wing" and a "pothead." The Army refused his enlistment because he failed a drug test. Mental health experts have opined that Loughner's threatening and bizarre behavior, his videos, and his nonsensical writings are consistent with a history of heavy marijuana use.
The facts indicate that Loughner preferred a pot party to a Tea Party. So it's not surprising that the advocates of legalizing marijuana are silent. They never talk about the negative side of the ledger -- the costs and consequences of drug use on society.
It would make sense if all members of Congress did what shooting victim Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has done, by pressuring the Obama administration to secure our borders from drug cartels.
But rational solutions aren't carrying the day.
Instead, Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), a member of the Socialist Party and progressive caucuses in the U.S. House, with the backing of some fellow Democrats, says he will introduce a bill that would make it a federal crime to "use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress," according to Peter Schroeder, writing for The Hill.
Brady singled out a 2008 map with crosshairs on twenty congressional districts, including Giffords', that had been posted on a website of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as the type of rhetoric he opposed. "You can't put bull's-eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official," he said.
Ignore the facts -- target political opponents and burden First-Amendment rights with overbroad and vague restrictions on speech that have nothing whatsoever to do with the actions of a madman. Is Brady interested in criminalizing the lyrics repeated ad nauseam in the background "music" Loughner used in one of his incomprehensible videos?
"There's nothing wrong with me."
"Something's got to give."
"Let the bodies hit the floor."
Where was Brady last October when former Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA) actually called for the shooting of Rick Scott, then-candidate for governor of Florida?
Incredibly, despite Kanjorski's recklessness, The New York Times published on Tuesday his opinion column calling "on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation."
Restricting Second-Amendment rights is always in the sights of the anti-gun lobby despite the fact that Rep. Giffords is a gun owner and speaks in support of the Amendment. "On Monday, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.), announced that he is working with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, (D-N.Y.), on legislation that would ban the manufacture and sale of high-capacity ammunition clips like the one allegedly used by Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner," according to Fox News.
Ironically, one of the heroes of Saturday's tragedy, Joe Zamudio, who helped disarm and subdue Loughner, has a conceal and carry permit. It's easier to confront deadly force when you're armed with deadly force, something that escapes the understanding of those who would disarm law-abiding citizens. Do they actually think that a person unrestrained by the death penalty will obey gun laws?
Victims and their families need our prayers, comfort, and what other help we can provide. They also need to see the one responsible for the crimes brought to justice. If there is such a thing as closure for those who are grieving, it won't come from diverting blame from the guilty and providing ammunition for his defense.
The illogical solutions being proposed will cause all of us to suffer further encroachments on our right to speak and defend ourselves, and they will do nothing to assuage our grief.
Jan LaRue is senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union.