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Chasing Down The Muse: America needs to stop shooting from the lip

January 13, 2011|By Catharine Cooper

The shooting this week of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords stunned our nation. For a few moments, no one was able to point fingers or abdicate responsibility. Everyone stood together in grief.

Here is a highly respected and educated woman, a Democrat elected by her constituency to guide southern Arizona. She is considered one of the most centrist legislators in Congress, and is a strong supporter of fiscal responsibility, bipartisanship and government accountability. She has introduced legislations designed to hamper and curtail drug trafficking, immigration reform, and stronger border protection. She also chairs the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.

Rep. Giffords was allegedly shot in the head at point blank range by a 22-year-old, Jared Lee Loughner, currently described as mentally ill and deranged. In the course of his alleged assassination attempt on Giffords, Loughner's bullets allegedly took the lives of Judge John M. Roll, Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Gabe Zimmerman and Dorwan Stoddard. He injured 14 others as he sprayed bullets onto the crowd gathered to hear Giffords speak.

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After his arrest, the shooter had nothing to say. Earlier in the day he had reportedly posted a "goodbye" note on his Facebook page.

"I'm saddened with the current currency and job employment," he allegedly wrote, and also allegedly posted a close-up picture of a handgun sitting atop a document titled "United States History," on his MySpace page.

Without a clear-cut motive, the media floundered in an attempt to create a cause, a reason for so heinous a crime. They sought connections between the alleged shooter and any fringe movement or cause they could uncover. Desperate to craft a thread of logic to the senseless shootings, they grabbed at racist motives, immigration backlash, possibly Giffords' stance on gun control.

When Giffords first ran for Congress in 2006, she named two priorities: sensible gun control and public health care for the mentally fragile. The irony is palpable.

Gun control immediately superseded all other conversations. It is like the Holy Grail to those who most cherish their weapons. The Constitution guarantees all U.S. citizens (except for felons who have given up that right) the right to bear arms. But at what cost?

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