Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Tragedy of Tucson - A sign of the Times?


If you listen to the news media you would think the political pundits, those on the lunatic fringe of the liberal and conservative movements, were responsible directly and indirectly, for the terrible crimes committed in Tucson.

The murder of six people, and injuring of 14 more including a critical brain injury to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), is another example of mass murder incited by the television celebrities with their endless stream of on air words of hate, according to some of the many experts we hear.

Gabrielle Giffords
Ironically the only names of the personalities mentioned in the media are conservatives, not members of both lunatic fringes.

There is no question this is a senseless act of violence that should not be tolerated. But if we are going to fix the cause of the problem then we better know the cause, and it sure isn't conservative celebrities.

Christina Taylor Greene, 9 year old victim
The shooting of our federal elected officials, presidents, senators and representatives in truth is not a very common occurrence and happens a lot less than the media would lead us to believe. Since the adoption of our Constitution on September 17, 1787, over 223 years ago, there have only been five attempts to shoot our Congressional representatives, compared to 20 attempts on our presidents.

While four presidents have been killed, three representatives and two senators have been killed. Since we have 536 people every year in those elect positions that means thousands of people have been elected and served over the years yet the total dead and injured is only around 15 in 223 years.

alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner
In most cases mental instability was the cause, not some partisan obsession. The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords is a classic case of the mental disorder behind most attempts of this nature. Anyone who is attempting to make this into a partisan issue, or claims it is the result of partisan rhetoric, may be far more interested in promoting themselves and their cause or trashing an opposition cause like conservatives, then telling the truth.

That, of course, is the problem in America. There are all kinds of versions of events, but only one can be the truth. If our cultural obsession with violence is considered, which is far more likely than partisan politics, then much might be to blame for what happened.

Just over 50 miles from Tucson is Mexico where over 31,000 people have been killed, not injured, in the past four years in the drug wars. These mostly innocent people have been caught in the crossfire of drug lords fighting over the US drug market. That means over 21 people every day for the past four years have been killed along our border with Mexico. Our young people are being desensitized to murders because of this sea of blood flowing to our south.

Look and the video and internet games glamorizing murder and war that occupy the seemingly endless hours our youth are surfing the net. The latest research says for the first time in our history the average time Americans now spend on the Internet has equaled the time they spend watching the endless TV that also glamorizes murder and war, an astounding 13 hours a week. That means we all spend 28 days a year (at 24 hours a day) on the Internet and another 28 days watching TV. How about 15% of your life is spent on the Internet and watching TV?

By allowing our youth access to the Internet and television, not to mention the selection of movies being produced to capture the coveted teenager and young adult markets, we have desensitized an entire generation of Americans to murder and war and we wonder why some kids are mental cases?

The Giffords case is another result of a cultural deviation yet even a Second Amendment defender like myself can see the need for some common sense fixing of our deficient laws. Rapid fire ammunition clips and automatic weapons used to be banned and should be banned once again. They are not the weapons of responsible citizens but serve only to increase the rate of killing.

No mental case determined to be a threat to themselves or society should be allowed to buy or own guns yet under the current state and federal laws unless they are certified by a court as mentally incompetent they can easily buy firearms.

Schools, the military, doctors and many other groups know of people including youth that are mentally incompetent. Both the military and a college knew the guy who shot Giffords was likely nuts but no competency hearing had been held though one had been requested. Why not require the military and schools to report mental cases to law enforcement so they can be included on a national data base? If they try to buy a gun they should have to prove mental competence through the courts.

We owe our time in this matter to praying for the recovery of the 14 injured and the souls and families of the 6 murdered. Then we need to devote time and energy to fixing the laws so their ambiguity will not lead to future victims.

A final note about Arizona. Regardless of the perception of Arizona resulting from the immigration, drug wars and this shooting, the State of Arizona is a wonderful place with some of the nicest people in the nation and Tucson is a desert gem.

I went to school at the University of Arizona, was treated in the same University Medical Center as Congresswoman Giffords, befriended the elders of the Hopi nation in Arizona long ago, have been on archeological expeditions with the National Park Service around the Grand Canyon and return to Arizona every chance I get.

What has happened recently should not reflect on Arizona or the many and diverse peoples living there. Drug wars, illegal immigration and inadequate laws are all our problems, in every state.


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