The tragedy of the Tucson, Arizona shooting is that we will not stand united as a country as Obama wished of us in his formal comment on the matter. We will, nay, have begun already to divide on the subject. This is not unreasonable of any of us as there is no clear resolution to be gained. No way to undo or properly prepare for the future. Not today at least.
Maybe Governor Giffords will live. Maybe she will resume office. Maybe gunman Loughner will be institutionalized instead of sent to prison. Maybe he will get the death penalty.
Maybe. But as the media swells with the matter (though only momentarily, before it becomes a faint memory) our minds split. All grounds will be covered, but nothing will be gained.
Those grounds are presented below. My facts come from the New York Time’s coverage of the shooting.
“Why is someone like this not in a institution?” asked John and Ken on their radio talk show today. Is the center of the issue that a man publicly witnessed engaging in inappropriate behavior was not locked away? How do you judge a mans mental well being? The very argument of Frank Capra’s “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is that we are all entitled to our eccentricities, so long they don’t harm anyone. Not a day goes by without words of cruelty spoken, death wished upon others, and pleasure gained from assertions of dominance. And what of the unspoken? What we don’t say to each other can often be much worse only if acted upon. To treat the constitution as a hierarchy, our right of speech is more sacred than our right to arms.
The irony of September 11, 2001 born nine-year-old Christina Green’s death at a political gathering. Not at the hands of a foreign enemy, but one of the politically minded child’s countrymen. The Green families loss is great, but so too is America’s loss of a youth so involved in political matters. I cannot imagine the kind of kid who would be so interested in her government to attend Grifford’s meeting.
What of Jared Loughner’s upbringing? Little is yet known of his reclusive family, whom neighbors described as unfriendly and rarely seen in public. This is a borderline ancient argument (of blaming the parents) that while still valid, is and will always be ripe for passing the buck. Loughner is twenty-two. He is legally responsible for his crimes as those in favor of the death penalty will remind us. Schools in America do not educate us to be good parents. Courses on parenting must to sought out of our own open-minded volition. Loughner’s childhood, no matter the details, is as any of ours was: a product of our media, the peers we could relate to, and whatever our imperfect parents can contribute in between.
If I must take a position, this is it: Gun control. An equally tired debate that has gone nowhere fast. Some have argued that Loughner would have acquired a weapon anyway possible. Illegal gun sales are common, even through conventions (Mexican cartels are often supplied through U.S. trade shows). Still, it was how Loughner acquired his weapon that disturbs me. He bought a glock handgun from a store. Legally. What I know of the Arizona gun ownership background checks is limited to the ironic 1994 repeal for small arms by Judge Roll who was one of the fatally wounded victims of the shooting.
Does this mean that there was no background check for Loughner’s semi-automatic weapon? If there was one, did it acknowledge Loughner’s drug abuse which cost him admittance into the army a couple months back? If the gun store was the first place he went for a weapon, could he have been discovered by the law as a potentially dangerous man with a recent history of aggressive behavior?
No. He would have walked out gun in hand one way or the other. Nothing was ever in his way to the meeting on Saturday. Just as the next shooting by a disgruntled youth is in no way in danger of failure. As I twist the knob of my car radio off I hear that talk show pundits changing subjects to the latest developments in Michael Jackson’s death back in 2009. Already, I feel my fellow Americans lead me to where I want to be in a time of tragedy and self-reflection. I want to forget.