A few days ago, a man by the name of Jared Loughner used a pistol to open fire on a gathering of people at an event in Tucson, Arizona dubbed "Congress on Your Corner." Reports indicate that 19 people were shot, 9 of which are currently in critical condition. Six died from gunshot wounds including a nine-year old girl and a federal judge. Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, who hosted the event, was shot in the head at point-blank range. Reports say that the bullet entered the back of her skull and exited out the front of her brow. Representative Gifford is currently in stable condition and is responding to questions in Tucson's Intensive Care Unit.
The incident, no doubt, has occurred during a turbulent time in Arizonan politics where immigration and health care have caused some stress points in their community. Not helping the situation are sensationalistic media outlets that have fed on speculation surrounding the event rather than on fact-finding.
Shortly after the shootings, Democrat County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik used a press conference to blame the rhetoric of anti-government groups for inciting the violent attack. Media outlets added their flavor to the story questing whether Sarah Palin or the Tea Party were to blame.
MSNBC, CNN, and New York Times highlighting Palin's Tea Party Express campaign that aimed at unseating Gifford during the midterm elections. Palin targeted Gifford's district, among several others, as a congressional seat ripe for turnover. Specifically, Palin's website used a "cross-hairs" graphic characteristic of rifles to identify Gifford's district. A few months ago, Gifford had complained about it saying that Palin's use of imagery might trigger violence. Was Gifford right?
At the present time, information surrounding Jared Loughner's political views are somewhat convoluted. Many are trying to tie a political motive to his actions. Some say his views are right wing, some say they are leftist, and others say Loughner seems to be all over the spectrum. If he somehow identifies or sympathizes with the GOP, the media could have some real red meat for the public.
From Loughner's Myspace and Youtube rants, we're able to determine that his favorite readings, among others, were the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. Both books promote the notion of big and intrusive government, which is an anathema to those in conservative circles. Loughner also favorited a Youtube video showing someone burning the American flag. Again, this is not a pastime for those on the right who envision themselves as patriotic.
Yet even more interestingly, Caitie Parker, a fellow student and friend of Loughner, described his views as "left wing" and "quite liberal." Parker said they were friends up until a 2007, but he became reclusive shortly after an alcohol poisoning.
But there are also some components of Loughner's political profile, according to some, that appear to be characteristic of a right-wing ideology. Loughner was suspicious of government playing "mind control games" on its citizens through linguistics. He also ranted against government on social media websites. Our conclusion is that the information needed to map out Loughner's political perspective is lacking.
As the investigative process moves forward, what's not talked about is the mental health history of Jared Loughner. Apparently, Sheriff Dupnik - who had quickly laid the blame at the feet of conservatives and Rush Limbaugh - had received multiple complaints about Loughner making death threats.
At the Pima Community College, Loughner had five run-ins with campus police. He was eventually suspended and barred from the campus unless he had a letter from a mental health official attesting that he was not a danger to himself or others.
Over a half-dozen classmates had complained that they had not felt safe around Loughner. Sheriff Dupnik had also told reporters that Loughner's entire neighborhood was aware he was a troubled individual, including a neighbor who suspected he might be a serial killer. This of course raises the question of culpability for Sheriff Dupnik and his Deputies, who we are told have reassured people of their safety. It also begs the question of why Sheriff Dupnik blamed political groups for Loughner's actions rather than mental instability.
Democrats did not let a good crisis go to waste. Democrat Congressman Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania quickly penned an op-ed in the New York Times calling for an atmosphere of civility and respect. The assumption is that the killings in Arizona were a product of harsh political rhetoric. Yet, last year Kanjorski specifically told Floridians that instead of having gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott run for governor, he said they should,"Put him against the wall and shoot him."
It's tiresome to see politicians using the tragedies of others for political gain. The bodies of the deceased weren't even cold before the Democrat machine began to march forward with allegations against the Tea Party - an organization that has no known reports of violence. Other Democrats used the violence in Arizona to talk about gun control.
Rasmussen, a national polling agency, reports that most Americans view the shootings in Arizona as a random act of violence. Rasmussen also reports that 62% of Americans believe that stricter gun laws would not have prevented the shootings. This isn't a political issue. It's a story about an unbalanced individual who slipped through the cracks.