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Monday, January 10, 2011
Gabrielle Giffords

It's the Monday following the terrorist attack on a constituent meeting being held in Tucson, Arizona last Saturday, and I've had 48 hours to let things sink in.

I'm sorry, does the word "terrorist" bother you in relation to this incident? Would it make it easier for you if Jared Loughner's first name was instead Jamil? Feel better now? Super. Moving on.

There's a lot of agita spewing as we once again try to pin a political philosophy on a mass murderer, hoping that somehow the Kool-aid the killer drank isn't the same flavor as our own. Now, while some people might assume that he must be one of these gun-toting, anti-immigrant liberals that we hear about so often, reports have surfaced that in addition to Mein Kampf (another liberal must-read), he had a copy of the Communist Manifesto. It might be argued that the only thing we may discern from his reading list is a lousy taste in literature.

It's not nearly as important to understand Loughner's political philosophy (if any), or if it led him to do what he did in Tucson. Ultimately, we're going to learn that he was severely mentally ill, and was going to come to a bad end.

What we need to discuss, and learn from, is what are the philosophies and actions that made this incident, if not possible, certainly more viable?

Loughner purchased his Glock pistol legally under Arizona and federal law. Although considered mentally unstable by many who know him, and with a record of disturbances at Pima Community College, he was able to walk in, pay for and leave with, with no background check, not only a firearm, but also the extended magazine, so he could fire 32 times without reloading, instead of a nearly worthless 10 rounds.

Whose policies made this possible? Who is against background checks? Who has bent over for the gun lobby? Who was paid to fight for the right of Americans to own assault pistols and rifles, you know, for rabbit hunting?

Jared Loughner is obviously mentally unstable. I don't know if he was still on his parents insurance, his own, or uninsured. Did he have access to mental health counseling? If he did, was it an incredibly Byzantine process in order to get it started, as it is with most insurance carriers? Whose policies have made access to mental health providers so difficult, and in most cases, very expensive?

There's already a ridiculous amount of spin coming from both sides, as conservatives and liberals try to distance themselves from Loughner, and whatever it is he believes in. The right is taking it very hard that people are jumping to conclusions that just because he believed in a return to the gold standard, was anti-immigrant (if mostly for grammatical reasons), and a couple of other Glenn Beck chestnuts, the left is dealing with the fact that Loughner was an atheist who was irritated about the military distributing bibles to service members.

Loughner liked his beliefs smorgasbord-style. It may be his only redeeming quality.

It could be a coincidence that he decided to assassinate a Democratic congresswoman (and a Jewish one for good measure), or it could just be that she was the most convenient one available. Maybe if he lived in West Chester, Ohio, he might have blown John Boehner's brains out, or Nancy Pelosi's if he lived in San Francisco. I can't say, all I have are the facts available.

Jared Loughner's beliefs are irrelevant. The question that needs to be answered is, who is responsible for the policies that allowed an obviously mentally ill person to go untreated, and have instant access to a weapon of mass destruction?

Since no one is going to address that question, I'll leave you with another:

Who will be the victims of the next Jared Loughner, and when?

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posted at 12:42 PM

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