Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)

By now everyone has heard of the assassination attempt of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and subsequent rampage of Jared Loughner that left six people dead and fourteen others wounded. The question everyone seems to be asking in the few days since is why? Was it the rhetoric of a few right-wing politicians like Sarah Palin, the fear mongering words of pundits like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, the Second Amendment and the lack of gun control or does the responsibility fall squarely on an unstable extremist man with a gun?

The answer of course would be all of the above. With the atmosphere of hate in the United States since the election of Barack Obama, anyone who didn’t see an event such as this happening must be blind or in a coma. I would go further and wager that this won’t be the last time that politically motivated acts of violence takes place. Has anyone noticed that this type of politically induced brutality always occurs when a democrat is sitting in the White House?

In the recent past we’ve seen pundits on Fox News spewing hate & violence filled rhetoric at anyone who isn’t a Christian conservative. Glenn Beck, for instance, chatted about killing filmmaker Michael Moore with his bare hands and wished out loud that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio) would burn to death. In a skit in 2009, Beck portrayed himself poisoning former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Bill O’Reilly not to be outdone has openly called for the assassination of certain figures and has “joked” about decapitating a Washington Post columnist.

Over the last several years we’ve also seen huge growth in armed American militias and extremist wings of the tea party. While some might say Sarah Palin doesn’t fit in with either of these movements, her words and actions sometimes say different. Palin posted a map with 20 cross-hairs over rival democrats including Gabrielle Giffords and urged her followers to “reload” & “aim” for Democrats.

Sarah Palin's target map

Giffords’ 2010 Congressional opponent Jesse Kelly took a cue from Palin and held a June 12th gun event. The campaign event website had a photo of Kelly in military garb holding his weapon. It included the headline: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” How could anyone possibly get the wrong idea…?

I still believe that gun control, or the lack thereof is the root cause of violence in the United States regardless of the garbage coming out of people’s mouths. If a gun and ammunition hadn’t been so readily available to Jared Loughner, he wouldn’t have been able to shoot twenty people without reloading. That’s the bottom line. A majority of Americans however, or at least the vocal majority, praise the United States open gun laws as if the Second Amendment was written on the same stones that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.

Estimates say that a hundred thousand Americans are shot every year with guns, 10% – 15% of those shot result in death (the others just get a nice medical bill!). I don’t expect any of these numbers to decrease any more than I believe something good is going to come out of this bloody massacre. If you try to change or repeal the Second Amendment, the result will be the same as when you try to take a gun away from someone who’s holding one. You’ll get shot.

In the weeks and months to come, Jared Loughner will no doubt receive more press coverage then the pundits, politicians, gun control lobbyists and the racist state he lives in, but he is just one man. The other issues are far more important and affect everyone. Instead we’ll hear about his mental health, his upbringing and solitude. We’ll even hear Rush Limbaugh defend Palin and Beck’s violent language, but blame the fact he listened to heavy metal (actually he already has). In the end I fear that Saturday, January 8th 2011 will be remembered as just another day in the good ole US of A.