The gun smoke had hardly begun to fade away from the terrible massacre in Tucson, Arizona before politicians, reporters, and television talking heads were pointing fingers and looking for somebody to blame.

Police say that they believe that Jared Loughner acted alone in the shooting that killed six people and wounded fourteen more, including Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Among the dead was Federal Judge John Roll. The big question at this point, and one that will probably never be answered completely, is why Loughner committed his terrible crimes.

Right wing extremists, radical conservative movements, and the Tea Party have been speculated to have influenced Loughner’s actions. Sarah Palin has been accused by some of helping to motivate the gunman, citing a graphic on her website of crosshairs on 20 House districts targeted for Republican takeovers last fall, including Congresswoman Giffords’. At the time, Giffords expressed concern  in an MSNBC interview, saying the graphic could have dangerous consequences.

There has also been criticism of election campaign comments attributed to Palin  of “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!”

Also mentioned was Republican senate nominee Sharron Angle of Nevada, who said during her campaign “if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.”

Some have speculated that the constant barrage of hatred by folks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck added fuel to the fire, and helped encourage the shooter.

Did these kind of comments nudge this lunatic over the line into violence? I have no idea, because no sane person can understand the rationalizations of a mind this twisted. But I can believe that the growing divisiveness we have seen the last few years in America, fueled by pundits on both sides, could help convince an already warped nut case that he or she has justification for their beliefs and actions.  

There is evidence that Loughner was obsessed with Congresswoman Giffords for several years, long before Palin’s name became a household word. Investigators have discovered rambling manifestos and writings showing that he was way out on the ledge for quite a while before this happened.

Somebody wrote last night to ask me if I thought that tougher gun laws could have prevented this tragedy. No, I don’t believe that.

If you are charged with domestic violence or have a restraining order out on you for such, you can’t pass the background check to buy a gun. But being an obvious wacko isn’t enough to keep you from legally buying a gun, unless you’ve been certified as a wacko.

Pima College in Tucson kicked this guy out, because they felt he was too dangerous to be on campus. The Army rejected him when he tried to enlist. Loughner was a misfit that everybody now says they knew was a problem, but nobody ever did anything about. Because in America, we can’t abuse somebody’s rights because of what they might do. Here we have to wait until they start killing people before we can react.

I agree that Loughner never should have been allowed to buy a gun, but I am also 100% sure that if he wanted to do his terrible crimes, he would have gotten a gun anyway, either by buying it off the street, or stealing one. Give me $50 and set me down on any city street in America at noon, and I’ll have a gun by nightfall if I want one.

The gun control advocates will say that this proves we need to do away with firearms in this country. I won’t even go there, because I don’t believe that, and even if we tried, there are too many guns out there, and American citizens, for good reasons, will never give them up, no matter what kind of laws are passed.

To make this whole tragic case even uglier, if that can possibly be so, now new nutcases have popped onto the scene. The sickos from the Westboro Baptist Church, who have gained fame for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty, have announced that they will be at the funerals of the Arizona shooting victims, spewing their own brand of hatred for America, blaming them for their “sins” that caused their deaths, and praising the shooter.

And just as we could not tread on the rights of somebody like Jared Loughner to prevent this crime, we can’t interfere with this outfit’s “rights” either.

I said in a blog a while back that the mood in this country had gotten so ugly that we were going to see bloodshed, and we have. I also think that if somebody doesn’t rope in these radical “Christians” and stop them from their vile actions at times like this, sooner or later it will lead to even more violence.

So who’s to blame? Take your pick; extreme political rhetoric, easy access to guns, a society that allows mentally troubled people to walk the streets without supervision, or just a monster disguised as a human being. I don’t have an answer. Do you?

The system is broken in so many ways, I don’t know if we can ever fix it.

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34 Comments on Who’s To Blame?

  1. Thomas Harrker says:

    I’m just sick to death of this whole country any more. Everybody hates everybody, nobody works together to solve any of our problems because its easier to just blame the other guy for the problem.

  2. Jack Alzin says:

    I disagree with you. My brother is a gun nut and we argue this back and forth all of the time. If we outlawed all guns and made the penalties severe enough that people would not dare have them, in a generation we could see a much safer, saner America. You don’t see crimes like this in England do you?

  3. Dave B. says:

    I think you covered the issue quite well. There are no easy answers. I understand that one Wal-Mart refused to sell Jared Loughner the bullets he wanted. Unfortunately, he went to another Wal-Mart and purchased them there. Friends of his say he was a strange guy. What a shame that nothing could have been done before he did this terrible thing. I don’t know the answer to this one.

  4. Al Hays says:

    People want to try to rationalize why someone does something like this. There is no way to do this because those that do this are warped beyond any level of rational understanding.

    To Jack above, there is no way to remove guns from the public and even if that were possible the wacko can always use a knife or a hammer! If we remove all the knives and hammers, how do I cut my steak or finish building the deck ?

  5. T & R Martin says:

    There is a warning prior to the viewing of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” advising that her show may be offensive to some viewers: “Viewer discretion is advised.” Lucky for us, as she is shown shooting a gun & killing Bamby (sp?) & putting its meat in her freezer. Now if we could only get that “warning” on some news outlets.
    Shame on that sheriff for suggesting that the shooting in Arizona was political when it was obvious the shooter in AZ was seriously disturbed. The precious 9 yr. old girl that died was born on 9/11/01 & made her parents so happy on that very sad day and now they have the irony of losing her on another very sad day.
    The federal judge who was also murdered just happened to be a Republican & friend of the Congresswoman. I guess NBC will think of him as collateral damage. Remember, GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE.

  6. Fred Hammer says:

    Jack hasn’t been following the news from England (or Canada or Australia), or he would know that crime there has been on the upswing, and those people who do not have a Second Amendment to legally carry personal protection are defenseless against the burglars and muggers who still practice their dastardly deeds.

    If only a few law-abiding citizens around Loughner had been carrying that day, he might have been stopped before his first victim fell.

    Severe penalties haven’t stopped the commission or other crimes.

  7. Tom says:

    I believe as you do Nick….take your choice as to who or what is to blame. You can add power and money to the list too. I keep saying over and over…our real danger isn’t outside our borders…we are decaying from within and thats what will bring our country down in the end. Six words have jumped to the front of our nation now. I WANT IT…I DESERVE IT …Nine words are quickly vanishing…I WORKED TO EARN IT…I SEE YOUR POINT. From the very birth of our country to the present there has been violence..lots of it. With our ability to hear it and see it almost as it happens now, we live with it on a daily basis. Isn’t it a shame with all the teaching tools we have today…so many still fail history.

  8. Debbie says:

    Nick, you cite “extreme political rhetoric”, guns, and mentally troubled people as the three possible things to blame for this tragedy. Well, I fear guns, but they are the least of it, if you ask me. And, there will ALWAYS be mentally troubled people–no matter what we do to help some, others are well-disguised sociopaths who we can never stop until they’ve revealed themselves through violent acts. But as for that first option…. when people in a positions of authority and/or celebrity use their visibility and fan base to spout vile rhetoric, they are deliberately contributing to the terrible climate we now see in this country. People like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, as well as people on the extreme “left”, have a RESPONSIBILITY to choose their words WISELY. They have every right to disagree vigorously with anyone they choose–but turning political opponents into deadly enemies is just asking for one of their supporters to take them literally. I hold them partially responsible.

  9. Tom’s comment on the nine vanishing words is right on. I am facing a new assignment (not major in the eyes of the world, but major in the life of our RV Park) – a position on the Board of Directors for the SKP Park where we live. The “I see your point” factor is going to be extremely important as major decisions come before the Board. Everyone has a point of view — and decision makers have to balance those points of view. Keep the wackos out of decision making positions? Anyone who takes a decision making position and actually makes a decision is going to be considered a wacko by somebody else.

  10. concerned in Florida says:

    I wonder if the news media refused to videotape and talk about the Westboro Baptist hate mongers, that if over time they would stop showing up because they were not getting any air time? But we know that won’t happened because news media gravitate toward the sensational.

  11. Jan Mains says:

    Nick,

    Why doesn’t the media mention the 74 year guy who stopped the shooter?

  12. Nick, there is no telling what will set off a paranoid schizophrenic….I remember the guy who shot Reagan was set off by his obsession with Jodie Foster. This guy was living in his own world, with little, or no connection to reality. Maybe the cat next door told him to kill Giffords…it certainly has nothing to do with political ideology, or political rhetoric. I say all that to say this; we cannot live our lives worrying about what will set off a mentally ill wack job. No doubt there are people on the right and left who actually “HATE” each other, but I have never met one. Most of us live in the middle, and actually get along. The problem, in my opinion, is to those extremists on both sides all life is political…there is no personal with them. The rest of us in the “middle” just want to be left alone to live our personal lives as best we can.

  13. Connie Braidh says:

    This shooter is insane. His history points to it. But he has his “rights” and unfortunately that leads to the only way to stop him is only AFTER he does something. Suspicion is not enough to put him in jail. That’s they way our system works now.

    I still believe the second amendment was put into the constitution because our founding fathers ALWAYS wanted the people to have guns/weapons. They did not want this country to be a police state or dominated by a dictator. They wanted the citizens to have the right to bear arms not only to protect themselves but also to be able to protect their freedom from domination by one person or one party.

    I am truly sorry that these people were gunned down, but as others have said guns are not the only ways to attack and kill people. 9-11 and the Oklahoma bombing didn’t have guns involved but people died and lots of people. It’s not the fault of the gun, knife, hammer or what ever that is used as the weapon. It is the fault of the person wielding that weapon.

    I don’t buy this is the fault of politics (Palin, the Republicans, Limbaugh. The problem is a flaw within the personality of Jarad Loughner. Where were his parents? Did they try to get him help? Did the school system try to get him help or were they bared from sending him for counseling? Where were the social services and police system? Did any one see the problem and try to get him help?

    Seems to me it’s time to start getting these troubled people help and not listening to this “they have their rights” nonsense. Where are the rights of society to be protected from these insane personalities?

  14. Dale says:

    To Jan: The media has mentioned all of the heroes and I have seen them interviewed.

  15. Turbo says:

    Jan Mains question regarding the media not covering the 74 yr old is answered by ths.
    The media seems to be fixed on selling papers,or a story on the air to make them money and prolong the story,as contrived as it seems to be,for as long as possible.
    Example:
    What connection could possibly be made to the campaign tactics of Sarah Palin but for political gain.or to sell a story?
    What could be gained by these other than political oneupmanship or money?

  16. Berni says:

    The person to blame is the one who did the shooting. If he wasn’t able to get a gun, he would of found other ways to kill. So it’s not the gun, or anyone else it was him and him alone.

  17. Denise Gray says:

    This was a horrible tragedy, but it was bound to happen. There were so many causes for this to occur. The political retoric, the media, guns, but more importantly, this young man’s mental illness. This morning on the Today show they were criticising this man’s parents for not doing anything. There was nothing that could be done by these poor parents. At 22 years old, this man was legally independent. Until he did something awful, no one could force him into treatment. Even then, no one can force him to accept the treatment or medications. It was the same with the Virginia Tech shooter. A mentally ill person has rights, and unless they clearly demonstrate that they are a danger to themselves or others, they cannot even be committed for evaluation. Yet, I think that the polical retoric is a trigger for the mentally ill, and I think we are going to continue to see more of these incidents. Congress and the media need to tone down the retoric and not add fuel to the fire. Some of our laws need to be changed, making it a little easier for the mentally ill to be given treatment.

  18. Dan C says:

    Has this country and our society evolved to the point that the blame game is paramount to reality? Unfortunately, the political scene has deteriorated to the point where one side blames the other side for almost everything, including a piece of crap excuse for a human being. Is anyone surprised that Congress has an approval rating just above nothing? I think it’s about time that our political leaders, and many in the media, return to the novel concept called personal responsibility. The notion that people like Limbaugh, Palin, or any others pushed this idiot over the edge, is beyond absurd.

  19. Paul Stough says:

    I agree with those that say this tragedy happened because this young man was mentally ill. The problem as I see it, is not that it needs to be easier to for the mentally ill to be given treatment, but that we need more and better treatment for the mentally ill.

    i have not heard yet whether his parents had tried to get him help or not, but even if they had, the mental health help he would have received is sorely lacking. In my experience with the mental health system, all they seem to be interested in is either treating a young person with mental problems as a wild animal, or just give them drugs to basically sedate them. I believe there is very little actual counseling done today, which would try and understand the nature of the mental illness, and then work through to a solution.

    Back in Iowa a couple years ago an obviously mentally ill young man, who had just been released from the psych ward of a local hospital, killed the local school’s football coach. Everyone knew this young man had mental problems, but yet nothing was done to help him, other than he was given drugs to take.

    Our prisons have become our mental health institutions, and because you cant lock someone up in prison for what you think they might do, the “mental health treatment” they do receive is after the fact.

    Paul

  20. Nina Seibel says:

    I agree with Thomas Harrker
    Wake up America and start working together for the benefit of our country. Stop listening to the hate mongers like Sarah Palin and the tv hate shows. They are in it for their own benefit and care nothing about anyone else.
    The gun issue is very disturbing to me. I see both sides, but something better needs to be worked out.

  21. Dave K says:

    I agree with Turbo! The “Media” is fanning this terrible incident for only thir profit & greed. People will be People as been born out in History. And all the laws & rules will not change their behavor if they go off the deep end.
    REMEMBER
    “ROCKS KILL GIANTS”

  22. Elaine & Mike says:

    The incident in AZ is tragedy to the fullest extent. 6 dead and several wounded all because of a lunatic who legally got a gun.One store refused to sell him the amount of ammunition he requested so he went to another who wanted his money. The saddest part is that a innocent 9 yr old was killed. This child was there to learn about our government and paid the high price. This mentally unstable person who was known to several people especially at the college knew he was a danger and they did nothing but expel him from classes.Because of the threats he made at the school they should have called the police and had him picked up on 5150 which is stating a person is a danger to self or others and can be held for a min of 72 hrs for observation. If they had done this they may have prevented his violence. This is not a guarantee but it might have been enough to have him held and committed for a long time. I have worked with the mentally ill for over 20 yrs and this does work. Yes I know hind sight is 20-20.

  23. Roy Deyer says:

    Bullshit! Nobody will convince me that the hate mongers like Limbaugh, Beck, Palin and the rest of that crowd didn’t influence this psycho. Right along with all of the politicians who can’t run a campaign based upon their own accomplishments, so have to bash and mudsling the opposition instead. If someone is already warped and looking for an excuse, it just takes a little bit to push them over the edge. We need to stop all of this nastiness, get those clowns off the radio and TV (both right and left, radical liberal and radical conservative), and get back to ONE nation working together for the benefit of all.

  24. wilton says:

    Agree l00 percent with Roy Deyer

  25. Dennise says:

    an online friend said it best…

    “My heart goes out to Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the rest. They seem to feel that they need to defend themselves rather than mourn for those lost, and try to change to be more civil. Maybe it is because a more civil tone in political discussion would put them out of business.”

    One fact still remains…the guy was able to get a gun…

  26. Mitchell S. says:

    Yes he was able to get a gun. But the 9/11 hijackers were able to seize three airplanes, and they didn’t use guns to do it. A person dedicated to get something done will find a way, so getting the gun wasn’t the issue. England has some of the strictest gun laws in the world and gun crimes (including mass murders) still happen there too.
    I do not think we can keep things like this from happening short of keeping everybody in a call. Because we never know who will flip out next. Yes this guy was known to be disturbed but a lot of people who commit terrible crimes never show any prior evidence of what is to come.
    When I see things like the New Years Eve crowds in places like Times Square or huge crowds at football games I cringe. All it takes is one psychopath like Timothy McVeigh and we could see a mass murder that would make the Tucson thing seem tiny in comparison.
    On a better note Arizona just passed legislation to keep the Westboro church zealots from getting too close to the funerals of the Tucson victims. I applaud them for that.

  27. Butch says:

    To Jack Alzin,

    It’s obvious that you have never needed a gun, I had the displeasure of showing 4 guys their error of bringing tire irons to a gunfight, fortunately, the presentation of the gun was all that was required in that instance.

    As for penalties, you must be saying that gun ownership must have stronger penalties attached than does murder robbery or rape currently carries, as the punishment for these crimes does not act as sufficient deterrent to prevent them.

    And yes, England and Australia have their share of murders also.

    One more thing, Timothy McVeigh DIDN’T use a gun!

    Butch

  28. Dee Walter says:

    No one to blame but ourselves. Taking God as not being first in our lives, Political correctness, The “ME” attitude. No thoughts of: let’s work together.

  29. Allan says:

    A pole showed that over 2/3 of the public did not believe that political groups and individuals aggitated this person to do this hideous crime but that he was a mentally disturbed person. Some of the media kept trying to stir up the idea that the Tea Party or Sarah Palin and other tv personalities were somehow to blame for this gunmans actions. These news media are trying to shape peoples thinking rather than reporting the facts. The news media is not objective but very biased but the American public is not that easily fooled. It is a shame that violence happens within our country but stricter gun laws will not help stop it. Some people have evil hearts and more laws and regulations won’t change their hearts.

  30. Connie Braidh says:

    Palin, Limbaugh, Beck are HATEMONGERs? Excuse me, but I have listened to them and they are NOT hatemongers. They do not go around suggesting we KILL anyone, nor do they suggest we use illegal means to take over the government. What they suggest is that you vote and vote conservative. This is HATEMONGERING?????

    The Black Panthers, KKK, SNCC in my opinion are groups who represented HATEMONGERS and VIOLENCE. Perhaps you need to really listen to Palin, Limbaugh and Beck rather than read about them in leftist newspapers who twist everything they say. You might learn something.

  31. Fred Hammer says:

    Ah, Connie, don’t you know that — because they can’t come up with an original thought of their own — many liberals will [1] begin their diatribe with an expletive, followed by [2] a re-affirmation that you cannot convince them otherwise. (In other words, don’t confuse them with facts.)

    We just have to hope that we can continue to outnumber them, so that we make wise decisions determining which 535 politicians establish the direction of our country.

  32. Ron Teel says:

    Fred, I can’t agree with you more. But, watch out, because some pundits may want to contend your phrase “wise decisions” is nothing more than code words for ‘getting rid’ of some of our current representatives, and who knows what label those pundits would then seek to pin on you.

    By the way, Fred, were you our tail gunner traveling to the Maritimes in 2000?

  33. Fred Hammer says:

    That must have been another Fred. (We are a very small, select group.) I’m the Fred that used to vend Snow Fresh Holding Tank Treatment; and showed up at the Naples Tea Party last year with a very big smile on his face. Our last caravan was to Copper Canyon four years ago.

  34. T & R Martin says:

    It is amazing that when people mention “hatemongers” they say it does not matter if they are left or right, but they do not mention the hatemongers on the left. I wonder if they have ever listened to Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews & many others. Apparently “left” or “right” does matter! After listening to newscasters of all stripes, it is obvious the hatemongers are definitely NOT Palin or Beck etc. Fox News is up against the MAJORITY of all those stations on the left even though they also employ lefties. I would not watch them if they did not present an opposing opinion. Although I do not always agree, I like to hear both sides on all the networks. How fortunate we are to be able to watch ANY and ALL we choose! Viva la USA.

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