January 11, 2011

An Armed Society

On my way home from work on Friday I found myself behind a car with one of the most awesome bumper stickers ever. It said, quite simply: An Armed Society Is A Polite Society.


Then this weekend I read this:
The suspect in the weekend shooting at an Arizona political meet-and-greet is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate Monday.

Jared Lee Loughner will appear in a Phoenix, Arizona, courtroom at 2 p.m. Monday (4 p.m. ET), prosecutors said.

He is accused of opening fire outside a Tucson supermarket, where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with constituents Saturday. Six people were killed and 14 others wounded in the shooting.

Giffords remained in critical condition Sunday after being shot through the skull, while a federal judge, a congressional aide and a 9-year-old girl were among the dead.

So, yeah, how's that polite society, armed society thing working out for you?

Posted by Chris at January 11, 2011 7:06 AM

I hate what has happened in Arizona but...do I think we should abolish gun ownership? No! Do I believe that we should have better background checks and screening? YES!
There is much to be said about people, like me, who are good gun owners. Why do I own guns? I live in the middle of the woods and I need them for A. protection from bears, coyotes and other predator type of animals. And B. I also need them for protection against criminals. Yes, I said that.
Just this past weekend we had a 22 year old man break in to an elderly mans home, beat him senseless, until the old man, reached his gun and shot him.
Even in sleepy New Hampshire, we have violent attacks like this!
When you live in the middle of no where you need to protect yourself!
This wacko in Arizona would have gotten a gun locally or in Mexico, but he would have gotten it. The guy is criminally insane.
Please do not paint all gun owners with the same brush you paint Jared Loughner.

Posted by: Maribeth at January 11, 2011 8:05 AM

According to all reasonable information sources currently available, the guy had significant mental issues. That is likely the cause of this incident. We need to come up with a better system for handling the mentally ill. The deinstitutionalization of decades past may have worked for some patients. However, there clearly are some people that system is currently failing. Is a return to a (more humane, better funded and supportive) institutionalism the answer? I don't know.

On the gun side - even if guns are not easily available, a resourceful person can make their own. And even if they are outlawed through normal retail shops ... there will always be a black market. And if you make it a black market - it will just cause more violence. Prohibition - be it alcohol, drugs, or guns, will not work.

Posted by: TisDone at January 11, 2011 9:13 AM


Gun laws are different in Canada. I'm really curious to know how many people commenting own guns. To my knowledge, the only people I know that own guns are hunters and farmers, so not too many.

Posted by: Heather at January 11, 2011 9:27 AM

As well, this is not the first time an incident such as this has occured. Politicians have been shot, innocent victims have been shot, numerous people have been shot. I think it is a little to simplistic to say that "He is crazy!".

Just to clarify, Canada is not a land of rainbows and unicorns, I'm not trying to say it is - we have had horrible incidents of violence as well.

Posted by: Heather at January 11, 2011 9:31 AM

The right wing counter argument is that if everybody at the rally had been packing heat, Loughner would have gotten off only 1 or 2 shots at best, before somebody took him out. Or he would not have even attempted the act, knowing that odds are somebody would react before he could finish his act of violence.

I don't believe that by the way, but that is the standard right wing rebuttal.

Oh, and I am a gun owner.

Posted by: COD at January 11, 2011 9:42 AM

I find it interesting that people will subject themselves to body scanners and full frontal patdowns at the airports and rationalize that it makes us safer. But there seems to be no middle ground when it comes to establishing some type of control for an item that is deadly, easy to obtain and only requires the pull of a trigger to permenantly alter their life.
I don't think anyone is asking for gun abolishment, but when is there going to be rational discourse about gun control.

Posted by: greenie at January 11, 2011 10:46 AM

Very few people, even me, argue against hunting rifles, shotguns, or even handguns for home protection. Not being a vegetarian, I think it would be hypocritical of me to condemn legal hunting. Even if I wanted to, I'd lose.

I do wonder how many people take a semi-automatic and 33 round clips out into the woods to take down a deer or need 33 bullets in rapid fire succession to protect themselves against a home intruder.

We did have a law for almost ten years. It was allowed to expire. Now Congresswoman McCarthy of New York who sponsored the original bill is trying to bring it back. Good luck with that of course with this cowboy Congress.

Take a look at the AZ gun laws - if you can find them. I'm not sure there are any. Their latest proposal is to arm students on college campuses.

The Republicans are screaming now about lack of mental health facilities. Lack of funding has succeeded here in cutting out most of what limited long term mental health care we had. A poor child with serious mental health issues often has to be taken to San Francisco (135 miles) or Bakersfield (200 miles) for anything except emergency care. An adult receives even less. Our laws "protect" the obviously mentally ill while they continue to deteriorate. There has to be a middle ground solution that will continue to protect folks from wrongful commitment while also protecting the public as much as possible. The laws we have here aren't working.

We can't stop everyone from obtaining a weapon if they're determined to do it. We don't, however, have to hand it to them - gift wrapped.

Ranting - sorry. I'll stop now.

Posted by: Ann Elizabeth Adams at January 11, 2011 11:38 AM

This is just so sad, totally heartbreaking, especially that a child was killed. Just so sad :(

Posted by: Heather at January 11, 2011 12:31 PM

Licensed gun owner here (and I'm neither a hunter nor a farmer.)

Interesting fact, to me, is that Arizona IS an armed society. When the Brady Law expired in 2004 - the politicians of the time didn't feel like fighting the battle to keep it current - and therefore - in Arizona, EVERYONE is authorized, if they are a licensed gun owner, to carry a concealed weapon. No special classes, no license needed. You want to? Hey, knock yourself out. Also, with the expiration of the Brady Law, it made it perfectly legal to have a semi-automatic weapon with a clip that holds 30 bullets. 30.

Arizona being an armed society didn't make it more polite, did it? It took a young intern to tackle the gunman to get the firing to stop. Where were all the peeps packing heat, as they are allowed to do?

What in hades does a person need a clip for a semi-automatic pistol that holds 30 bullets? The only thing I can think of? Mass destruction. Period.

NRA can talk all they want about how a gun owning society is a polite society. It's a bunch of bull pucky, and Arizona's lax gun laws certainly didn't help anyone on Sunday. My heart breaks for the families of the 6 dead and the 13 wounded.

Posted by: Mindy at January 11, 2011 12:36 PM

I'm not against guns. I'm not against people who want to own guns legally.

What I am against is the senseless need for a semi-automatic weapon to be in the hands of ordinary citizens. There is no need for that type of weapon to be owned by anyone who is not a police officer or soldier.

I hate guns. I don't like to be around them. I dated a cop for some time and he carried all the time. It didn't make me feel safer...and the guy was a COP! I just hate them.

I don't begrudge the right to own or carry by sane, smart people. However, I don't trust our system of determining who is smart and sane enough to own and carry a gun...We need stricter guidelines on who can own and carry AND we need to ban weapons that have no other reason to exist than to kill people (and multiple people at that). Had this crazy in AZ been forced to have a mental evaluation, maybe, just maybe, Saturday's events may not have happened. If he was only able to get a hand gun, maybe less people would have died, been injured. Yes, they are all maybes, but Jesus, we have to start somewhere.

With freedom comes responsibility. If we are free to carry guns, we need to be responsible about how, who, where, etc. If we are free to say whatever we want, we need to be responsible about what we say, how we say it. And that's not a right-wing or left-wing thing, that's just a human thing.

Posted by: Cyndy at January 11, 2011 1:14 PM

My heart is further breaking for the protest organized by the WBC for the little girl because she and her family are Catholic.

Guns. Well, people have access to bombs. That's not going to change. People have access to cars and trucks. That's not going to change. There are always going to be ways to commit mass murder. Easier, harder. It comes down to, as Ann said, helping those with mental problems and saying "Look, we don't let you drive if you have had a seizure in X number of years. Perhaps we should not let you decide, if you are considered a danger to society, to go without a case worker who will ensure you are taking the psychiatric drugs you are prescribed. And if you fail to do so, you may be hospitalized until you are stabilized."

Crazy, huh?

Posted by: alektra at January 11, 2011 1:18 PM

I live in a polite and (mainly) UNARMED society...Canada. I often look south and shake my head and wonder what some Americans think their society is gaining by people being armed to the teeth. Do you really feel safer? Really really? Because I'd be scared to death to have a gun on my person or in my home. It would definitely make me feel LESS safe.

Posted by: Procrastamom at January 11, 2011 1:44 PM

Yuck. I prefer our gun laws in the UK.

Posted by: Katherine at January 11, 2011 2:29 PM

I live in Tucson and this happened a few short miles from my home in a shopping center area we visit weekly. It is a horrific event and has sent shock waves through our community and evidently the nation. The funeral for the little girl is happening in the church across the street from our house, which with all the talk of protests and picketers makes me incredibly nervous.

I don't know what the answer is with all the guns here but I do know that it makes me nervous that we have one of the most liberal gun ownership laws on the books and I don't think we do a very good job of screening people for mental illness. The shooter legally purchased a gun despite plenty of disturbing warning signs that should have been addressed and then maybe he wouldn't have been able to obtain a gun.

It also makes me nervous that there are now reports coming out about how one of the heroes who tackled the suspect came out of another store with the safety off his weapon and almost shot the other hero, who he mistook for the shooter, but in actuality was the one who managed to wrestle the gun away from the actual shooter. It makes me wonder about the ripple effect. Had he shot, he would have injured or killed an innocent man. Then say another armed person came across that man and thought he was the shooter. Pretty soon you have a bunch of armed innocent people all shooting each other. I don't know.

Regardless it is tragic and sad and Tucson is a very somber place right now.

Posted by: Sarah at January 11, 2011 2:43 PM

My husband told me to add that when the 2nd Amm. was written the weapons were muskets and rifles. The founding fathers probably didn't envision everyday ordinary citizen being able to carry military grade, assault weapons while running errands around town. :)

Posted by: sarah at January 11, 2011 2:48 PM

Awful, sad and very senseless shooting in Tucson. Heartbroken at how many have suffered, died and are paying for his decision to go after a congresswoman.

I believe in the right to bear arms. Generations of my family have been hunters. My parents and sisters have all shot trap. That all being said, I hate guns. I realize that the right to bear arms was founded when families relied on their guns to put food on the table and protect themselves from harm.

The time is overdue to limit access to certain guns. Why should the average person have access to a semi automatic weapon? There is no legitimate reason. We were lucky that his gun jammed and he was subdued. He could have shot hundreds.

I believe most gun owners are responsible, but it is simply too easy for the wrong people to legally get guns. If you look at Columbine and all kinds of shootings over the past 5-10 years, this continues to be a major issue.

The problem is this man got this gun legally. Danger signs were everywhere. When are we going to wake up and push forward some sensible gun laws?

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at January 11, 2011 3:07 PM

Oops, forgot. No guns in our home either.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at January 11, 2011 3:13 PM

Forgive the tangent, but it's really interesting if it's true that Republicans are lamenting the lack of mental health facilities, when it was the Reagan administration that shut them down.

Posted by: Heidi at January 11, 2011 5:58 PM

A few senators have stated they are going to start packing heat. I think people were a bit more polite and considered their actions when everyone was armed.

Posted by: Knot at January 12, 2011 5:17 AM

It's a tremendous tragedy - and there are several key aspects to me -- one is how accessible guns are and how easy they are to get, and two is how difficult it is to get mental health help for those who need it.

My stepson has been in a residential psychiatric hospital getting treatment for two months now, and believe me when I say that this was my WORST FEAR - that he might be responsible for something truly heinous like what happened in Arizona (I am petrified of guns, so he didn't have access here).

We were fortunate in that we have phenomenal insurance that is allowing us to get him this help - but I know that many people aren't so lucky and many people who need SERIOUS HELP, DO NOT GET IT.

IMO, this is definitely a twofold kind of issue and there's a lot of stuff going on that needs to be different.

Guns should be harder to get. Help should be easier to get.

Posted by: sarah at January 12, 2011 11:39 AM

I'm not a huge fan of guns, but I did have access to them as toys when I was a boy, and as tools (trap shooting) as an older boy.

I believe in gun control and don't believe gun control is necessarily at odds with the 2nd amendment.

I have huge issues with the notion that all us "regular citizens" have a right to access to guns that are clearly designed to kill and only to kill. These are not defensive weapons. They're offensive weapons. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons should not be "ok" for most of us to own.

And I have huge issues with easing the background checks and restrictions for potential gun owners.

(last rant) I believe there's more danger to the public from everyone carrying a gun and feeling like they can/should/might take protection into their own hands. I don't want everyone carrying. Innocent people will be hurt in the name of "protecting" people.

Posted by: pvz at January 12, 2011 5:02 PM

Merci de prendre le temps de discuter de cela, je crois fermement à ce sujet et de l'amour en apprendre davantage sur ce sujet. Si possible, comme vous acquérir de l'expertise, auriez-vous l'esprit la mise à jour de votre blog avec plus d'informations? Il est extrêmement utile pour moi.sdfdscd

Posted by: Lancel at November 18, 2011 4:21 AM