Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shooting in Tucson

We must look at the big picture, Let's raise the bar 

Being a news hound can be a horror, as was the case Saturday. I spent the day engrossed in the coverage of the attempted assassination of a U.S. Congresswoman and subsequent slaying of six  other innocent people in Tucson, Arizona.

Let's try harder to get it right?

I first learned of the tragedy through email from at least three well-respected news organizations under the heading, "Breaking News." A short time after the initial news of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, another "Breaking News" item reported that she had been killed and four people were dead. The items were presented as a simple statement. There was no mention of non-verified information. Countless Twitter posts echoed those initial reports.

During a catastrophic event, we all hunger for details as we seek any shred of hope for which to cling onto. Such a traumatic scene can be chaotic. Only after switching to television news did I learn that Congresswoman Giffords was still alive and in surgery as she continued to fight for her life.

Comfort from official statements 

Official statements were offered by Speaker John Boehner, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of Giffords' colleagues. Even President Obama addressed the nation, as he offered heartfelt sympathies to all those affected by this tragedy. His statement was terse; his demeanor was solemn. It was strangely comforting.

"An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve," Boehner said.

Congressmen may not get it

Correction Mr. Boehner. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all of us. This act was not just against a member of congress, it was an attack on a human being who happens to be a Congressional Representative. Yes, it could happen to any one of you, but it could also happen to any one of us.

There has already been talk of possibly implementing some type of security for members of Congress, though early indications suggest such a special detail would be dismissed by members themselves. Good, because I have to ask, will I have security when I go to my local McDonald's or other fast-food restaurant where shootings have taken place and innocent people have been mowed down? Will there be special security in my grandchildren's elementary school, at the place where my children work, or other places of learning and working, which have been similar scenes of untold tragedy?

It's all about guns

 Let us not miss the point. This was a violent act, that is not unlike many that have already played themselves out in quiet neighborhoods in residential, commercial and industrial locations in both rural and urban areas across the country. This happened to occur in an upscale Tucson, AZ neighborhood. But what about all the other neighborhoods across the country where this kind of act occurs on a nightly basis? What about the inner cities where killings are sadly commonplace? It seems this domestic terrorism is far more imminent than foreign terrorism. People are just not safe in their own neighborhoods. There are too many guns on the street, and what's more, they are killing machines.

Perhaps this heinous act in Tucson will illustrate to members of Congress that there is a problem with the ability of people, all people, any people, to obtain a semi-automatic weapon—a very efficient killing machine. What is the purpose for anyone having a 9mm Glock that has the ability to rapidly fire into at least 18 innocent people's bodies in a matter of moments? Why would anyone need one of those? Why are assault weapons made, except to use them for slaying or maiming innocent people?

According to one news source, this weapon would have been banned had the Congress not let the assault weapons ban expire during the Bush Administration. Had that been done, this shooter may not have been able to carry out this act. 

Tone down the rhetoric if you want, but the real issue is our domestic weapons of mass destruction. The first amendment which guarantees our freedom of speech is being pushed to the limits. But sticks and stones mean little when compared to the abuses of the second amendment. Those who wrote the amendment never envisioned a 9mm Glock in the back pocket of a mentally ill person who hated the government. It is lunacy to defend such an indefensible act.

Instead of the first discussions in the 112th congress being about added security for elite congressional members, shouldn't the discussion be about curbing the over-arching violence experienced in this country. The people's house has been tampered with. Welcome to our world.