Arizona shootings raise questions on gun control and hostility between right and left

By Eric Gibble
January 17, 2011

The recent slaughter in Tucson, Az., created a firestorm of controversy. Unfortunately, the far-left has attacked Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as those responsible for the killer’s motives.

Equating the re-election process with crosshairs and targets is inappropriate. We pride ourselves in the peaceful transitions of power that occur every few years. Violent political rhetoric has no place in American politics – period.

This discussion has drowned out an even more important debate–one that must be seriously debated in this country: gun control.

Mass shootings are nothing new to our country.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Dressed as Santa Claus, Bruce Pardo killed nine people at a Christmas party in 2008.  In 2007, there were two massacres. thiry-two people died at the hands of Cho Seung-hui, an estranged student at Virginia Tech. Eight people died in Omaha, Neb. when Robert Hawkins opened fire in a shopping mall. In 2005, Jeff Weise killed seven people at Red Lake High School in Minnesota.

The killer in each of these shootings committed suicide, and the majority of them had severe mental illnesses.

Jared Loughner, the man behind the gun in Tucson shootings, can be grouped in the mentally disturbed category. He was unable to enter the military because of his brushes with the law, drug use and other mental issues.

The military likely did not allow him to enter because they did not want a psycho behind the trigger of a gun.

President Barack Obama addresses the crowd at the “Together We Thrive” program at the University of Arizona, honoring the victims of the Tucson shooting rampage that claimed the lives of six people and wounded more than a dozen others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. -- MCT

If Loughner was unqualified to handle assault weapons in the military, why would the state of Arizona allow him to buy not only a 9-mm handgun but also an extended magazine, which held 30 rounds of ammunition?

The popular argument that “guns don’t kill people – people with evil intent kill people” may be true. Yet we give people with evil intent the capability to purchase a gun just as easily as buying groceries at a supermarket.

The Second Amendment is clear: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Its purpose was to ensure that the American people could defend themselves against an oppressive government.

Arizona has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the nation. It is one of three states in the nation that do not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Consequently, they also rank eighth in the rate of gun deaths per capita.

In Arizona, a teenager is more likely to die of a gunshot wounds than from all natural causes of death combined. From 1995 to 2005, 1,114 Arizona children under the age of 20 were killed by firearms according to the Arizona Firearm Injury and Prevention Coalition.

That may have made sense in 1791, but technology has progressed a tremendous amount since that time.  In the face of fighter jets, tanks, flamethrowers and an array of bombs, is your handgun going to be useful?

Firearm violence not only costs lives in Arizona but taxpayer dollars across the country. In 2008 the Public Services Research Institute found that firearm homicide and assault cost federal, state and local governments $4.7 billion annually. When lost productivity is included, lost quality of life, and pain and suffering are added to medical costs, estimates escalated to between $20 billion to $100 billion.

This debate should not be taken likely due to the precarious nature of balancing the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the public safety of Americans. At the end of the day, the latter must come first. Nine-year-old Christina Green, the youngest victim in the Tucson shooting, was never  able to execute all of her rights guaranteed by the Constitution because of a madman with a gun.

If one is qualified to own a gun and can use it properly, there is no reason they should not be able to purchase a gun. Unfortunately there are too many occurrences where people are able to use the Second Amendment against our country.

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Eric Gibble

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