Sunday, January 9, 2011



Thoughts, prayers and condolences for the family and friends of the victims

The shooting on January 8th 2011, of congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, that left her with a gunshot wound that went through her head, six others dead, including a 9 year old girl and fourteen others wounded is a heartbreaking tragedy. I first learned of it minutes after it happened via Twitter. Shortly after hearing about it, it was tweeted that she was dead. This was likely based on an eyewitness saying she had been shot pointblank in the back of the head. People are not supposed to survive pointblank head shots, but this was just the beginning of the overreacting that took place throughout the day.

I am not going to pretend that I was exempt. My initial reactions were strongly influenced by a strong dislike for an individual that would put up a graphic map on their Facebook page depicting targets placed on twenty congressional districts throughout the country. At around the same time this map went up (March 2010) Sarah Palin also tweeted her followers, urging them to not retreat but reload. Political views aside, I really dislike stupid people who seemingly only exist to incite violence and then plead ignorance when that violence occurs. The fact that this map disappeared shortly after the shooting happened displays at least a measure of guilt, also the tweet I mentioned earlier has vanished. The rhetoric and hate spewing from some on the more extreme right of the political spectrum is chilling in both its tone and ability to polarize. Then I asked myself, is this even about politics?

Tweets were coming in about the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner with links to a YouTube account associated with him. I found this one Introduction to be the most telling of a person struggling to comprehend his reality. As the day went on I learned he had a wide range in his reading interest, from Mein Kampf to Alice in Wonderland. He also had a MySpace account (since the shooting it has been shut down.) Shortly before the shooting occurred he had posted what would seem to be a good bye message asking friends not to be mad at him. He had obviously already decided to go out in a blaze of ugliness and to take out as many innocent people as he could before ending his own life. Why though? What was his motivation? Was he a polarized radical or just a person with mental problems who randomly chose this particular time and place to act? As of my writing this we still don’t know and we may not for quite some time, if at all.

Yet the blaming and finger pointing continues, especially from the extreme liberals. Instead of blowing this up and overreacting we should slow down and examine Jared Lee Loughner, the individual, a bit more closely. The question might become more about the current state of our mental health system than about his political views. Another question that will need to be looked in to is: how was a person that appeared (based on his online presence) so obviously mentally ill able to legally purchase a gun? Political rhetoric may have put thoughts into his head, but they did not put the gun in his hand, the gun by all accounts he bought legally from a willing seller. The mental health system and the gun control law are the two issues we should be questioning, not who to blame for this catastrophe.

Unfortunately tragedies like this are impossible to predict and almost just as impossible to prevent. When a crazed individual has his warped mind set on something and has the necessary weapon to carry out his plan, no person in his path is safe. The blame and the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle need to stop. We should take a look at what enabled Jared Lee Loughner to become a coldhearted killer; a mental health system that relies too heavily on medication instead of on individual care and gun control laws that made it too easy for a madman on a mission to purchase a gun. As always, it is a combination of things that take place in tragedies like these and instead of overreacting and placing blame we should be asking what we can do to prevent the next one from happening.


  1. JOhn... another fabulous post. You are a AMAZING writer!

    I'm afraid to comment for fear of saying the wrong thing but,as a Canadian, your gun laws appaul me. To obtain a gun in canada is more complicated than adopting a child.

    God I wish you guys would revisit that...

    Always a fan, John!

  2. Thank you Lady. Yes our gun laws leave much to be desired, as well as out mental health care system.

  3. This is a great post about the tragedy in AZ. It's nice to read material by well informed folks!

  4. Thank you! Honestly, I felt I needed to write this, the tragedy was bad enough, but I really could not take the overreacting & finger pointing, it was just too much!

  5. John - I agree regarding the need to look more closely at what led this man to commit such a heinous act. I believe the finger pointing and rhetoric is both the only way politicians know how to avoid answering hard questions and an intentional method of exploiting this horrific event to push their own agendas.

    Great work!

  6. Thank you! I believe the rhetoric has toned some the past couple of days, but I still don't here enough conversation about mental health & gun control. I hear a little here and there, but this should be a national conversation.