Thursday, January 13, 2011
On the Shooting Rampage in Tucson
I haven’t weighed in earlier on this event, because I wanted to find out the facts. They are that a troubled young man descended into madness, got a gun, killed 6 people, and wounded several others before being subdued.
The President in his speech in Tucson was quite correct. We in this country need to reunify and work together in a way that would make those lost proud of us. It is wrong to try to make political hay out of this by assigning ideological “blame”, and that applies to both sides. Please tone down the politics.
There were several missed opportunities to stop this. This young man’s high school classmates knew he was troubled, yet he got no help. His classmates, teachers, and administrators at his junior college also knew, yet nothing was done.
The army would not take him because of one of his troubles, that being drug use. No one did anything in response to the bizarre postings he put on the internet. The signs were there! We’ve seen this before, including that demon-haunted look in those eyes!
The final failure was the background check when he bought the gun. It is only illegal to sell a gun to a crazy person when a court has judged him crazy. The store personnel knew this young man was crazy, but the background check said he had never been so judged by a court. So, they could not refuse to sell on that basis.
And that is one of the two weak points in the background check process, the other being no check with unlicensed dealers. So, only those two items are what we should address, with regard to gun laws. One (no check) is very straightforward to fix.
The other (insanity) is not. A court judgment of insanity is sometimes not timely enough. Reasonable suspicion of insanity should be enough to delay and investigate further. The lawyers will have to sort out exactly how that should be done, but that is their job, and they need to go and do it.
The existing federal law is correct in that felons, mentally ill persons, and illegal immigrants should not be allowed firearms. The states are correct using this law as the minimum standard about which their own laws are written to reflect their local cultures. I have no problem with that concept at all.
The missing piece in our culture is actually more important to address. This young man spent all the years from childhood descending into madness, accelerating greatly this last year. Many noticed, but none reported, or stepped forward to help him.
The result of that cultural failure is 6 murdered including a child, several wounded, a federal assassination attempt, and a national tragedy that could have been prevented. We are too isolated from each other in our local communities.
I have no solution for that, but I know we need one.