American politics, the right, and the culture of the gun

Over the last five years, a deadly new trend has developed in American politics — a willingness of mainstream voices, and law-abiding citizens, to introduce the gun into our democratic system.

There was a time, decades ago, when the left indulged in the same rhetoric and symbolism, suggesting constantly that violence would be a reasonable alternative if goals couldn’t be achieved peacefully at the ballot box.

When Malcolm X promised progress “by any means necessary” it was an implicit and irresponsible threat.

But this latest resurgence of violence-tinged rhetoric is largely the province of the right.

When a conservative activist  brings an assault rifle to one of President Barack Obama’s rallies; when one of the nation’s most prominent right-wing broadcasters, Glenn Beck, warns that Democrats are taking Americans “to a place to be slaughtered”; and when a top Republican politician talk about “2nd amendment remedies,” it’s time for decent Americans to push back.

Here’s what Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle told an interviewer during last year’s campaign:

I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.

Today we’re all wrestling with the news that a Democratic congresswoman has been shot in Arizona.

We’re learning, moreover, that last March Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s windows were smashed or shot out after she voted in favor of the Democratic healthcare bill.

And we’re learning that following a political event in August 2009, a conservative protester opposed to the healthcare bill was ejected from one of her allies, after a pistol fell from his pocket.

And we’re learning that in June 2010, Gifford’s Republican opponent held a political rally called “Get On Target For Victory,” at which attendants were encouraged to “shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

This followed on Sarah Palin’s Tweet manifesto to “commonsense conservatives and lovers of America,” urging them:  “Don’t retreat, instead RELOAD!”

This fromt he New York Times:

Ms. Giffords was also among a group of Democratic House candidates featured on the Web site of Sarah Palin’s political action committee with cross hairs over their districts, a fact that disturbed Ms. Giffords at the time.

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” Ms. Giffords said last March. “But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that.”

We don’t yet know whether Gifford’s assassin had political motives and it appears that he was mentally ill.

But this isn’t the first time in the last 12 months that the gun-fueled political rhetoric has translated into terrifying action.

In July 2010, a right-wing activist named Byron Williams fired at police after they spotted him driving erratically.  Williams was captured wearing full body armor and carrying an arsenal of weapons.

It turned out Williams had set out to murder “progressives,” and was motivated in large measure by information gathered on Glenn Beck’s radio and television programs.

In April 2009, Pittsburgh man was accused of killing three police officers in Pittsburgh.  According to the Washington Post:

[T]he Anti-Defamation League reported that the accused killer had, as part of a pattern of activities involving far-right conspiracy theories, posted a link on a neo-Nazi Web site to a video of Beck talking about the possibility that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was operating concentration camps in Wyoming.

Were these men all mentally ill?  Perhaps.  But they were also manipulated by the right’s increasingly virulent rhetoric.

I worry that dialing back this kind of bile and hate will be difficult for conservatives.

Too many politicians have come to rely on a kind of gun-related “southern Strategy,” one which uses revolutionary rhetoric and zeal in the place of racial tension to motivate voters.

But it’s long past time that the right’s leadership — from Fox News’ Roger Ailes to House Speaker John Boehner to national conservative spokesman Rush Limbaugh — take specific and forceful action to curb this activity.

They must make it clear that guns, violence and the threat of violence have no place in our politics, period. That means no winks, no nudges, no veiled rhetoric, no code-words.   It all has to stop.

The peaceful transfer of power that we saw last week in the House of Representatives is a sacred principle of our people.  Those who erode and threaten that principle should be marginalized by every responsible American.


60 Comments on “American politics, the right, and the culture of the gun”

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  1. Josh says:

    Following the Oklahoma bombing, Bill Clinton said this: “we hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. …

    Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences …

    If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too, and we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.”

  2. art says:

    Gun rights have turned into a right to use any weapon at will.
    the system that allows unstable,violent, retro-tards to use and own
    “guns” has to end. otherwise the killings will continue. the fools that
    own the armament, are very possibly the most unqualifed ,dangerous
    bunch of flakes ,who should by defination be banned from gun ownership.
    to insure the peace and safety of the gereral populace strict gun laws
    must be enforced . the failure to do so means more people will die.
    when the armed,ignorant ,mentaly incompentant are allow to posses
    dangerous weapons, inocent people and children die.
    ban weapons from the hands of radicals, end encitment to violence by
    the politicans ,insure proper conduct or risk a violent conflict when
    these fools decide to take over america.

  3. phahn50 says:

    When the nut-cases start shooting politicians or celebrities we think about gun control, but really this kind of thing is a very rare event. What is very common, and we never bring up is that every day teenagers shoot at each other (drug trade related), miss, and kill some kid walking home from school. This is an urban problem – probably not relevant to the North Country – but still far far more common than these wacko assassinations. Yes crazy people shouldnt have guns, but they usually dont.

  4. Mayflower says:

    I’m sorry. Not this time. We just aren’t going to change the subject or deflect the conversation. This is not a problem with gun control, urban crime, or rare wacko assassins.

    This is exactly what happens when people are pounded with warnings that the country is being invaded by illegals from Mexico and imposters from Kenya. This is exactly what happens when people are flamed into believing that clinics are killing babies and government death panels are killing the elderly.

    This is exactly what happens in a political environment where the mantra is “I’m right; you’re evil.” And if you shout that loud enough, long enough, the wackos will respond.

    The words matter. It’s not guns or cities or the rare (?) wacko. The hateful, threatening words — by media, internet flamers, and radical politicians — the words have become a lethal infection. They matter.

  5. Pete Klein says:

    In and of themselves, guns are not the problem. As supporters of the right to keep and bear arms like to say, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
    That said, those who use extreme speech for political purposes should act responsibly and stop it.
    They might call themselves real Americans. They might call themselves good Christians but I ask real and good for what?
    To me they are no different than Muslim religious leaders who (1) encourage their followers to kill Infidels and those who blaspheme Islam or the Prophet (2) and those who do not stand up against the religious leaders who do advocate violence.

  6. DBW says:

    Who is the person I disagree with? None other than my neighbor. He’s the person who stops to help me get out of a snow bank, or the person I hold the door for at the stop and shop. That needs to be pointed out over and over again until everybody gets it. Blaming this person or that group does nothing to solve the real problems we all face.

  7. BRFVolpe says:

    I own 6 guns, have hunted for 56 years, and earned a jacket full of NRA junior sharpshooter badges on my high school rifle team. I supported the Brady Bill, and endorse strict gun control laws, including the ban on assault weapons, and Virginia-style gunshows. Opposition to political ideology using “lock and load”, and “in the crosshairs” terminology has sadly been taken to heart. I for one, will gladly submit to background checks and register my guns. Freedom of speech bordering on threats of violence needs to be countered by stiffening gun control laws and regulations.

    (A secondary benefit would be a slowdown of gun trafficing to Mexican gangsters, since Mexico’s gun controls are stricter than those in Texas and Arizona. But the NRA would oppose that in a New York minute!)

  8. phahn50 says:

    It is beginning to look like this particular multiple murder was inspired by conservative political language.

  9. Brian Mann says:

    I want to make clear that my argument here is not about gun control. This isn’t a gun-rights issue.

    It’s an issue of unacceptable political rhetoric.

    By unacceptable, I don’t mean that people should be denied their free speech; of course not.

    But when they say bring threatening gun-related symbolism (wanted posters, politicians in cross-hairs, talk of armed revolution, etc.) they should be marginalized.

    That means the two mainstream parties saying no and hell no. No more fundraising, no more endorsements, no more hedging, no more winks and nudges.

    Again, I want to encourage posters here to not be sidetracked into a discussion of gun control. No one here is suggesting that that’s the issue, or the solution.

    –Brian, NCPR

  10. Jeff says:

    Whoa Brian Glen Rush Savage Mann……
    Your doing the fomenting too. Juxtapositioning disconnected unsubstantiated non-contextual, unattributed fragments for some purpose.

    A pistol happens to drop, get him a new holster. It merely happened in what some believe was the wrong location. Don’t you carry one? Surely you’re frightened when walking the streets of Canton or Potsdam seeing all those people who don’t look like Juan Williams. Isn’t this typical? People react because of actions at the margins. All the movie stars divorce and re-marry so what do people do? By choice the press is not a moral compass. By price… well that is a different story.

    One nut in a waiting line starts shooting and mowing people down and we have to control guns- but it was a radical psych doctor on a military base that time. Since when does slaughter refer to firearms? You haven’t been to a butcher shop lately…. one where they start from scratch.

    Are Maddow, Beck, Shultz, Gunsullas and others not considering how crowded the theater is? That Arizona shooter was one of the guys in the theater. Plus, it may not help to have news repeated three times an hour creating an urgency that does not exist because if it isn’t in our backyard, it can wait for the evening news or the newspaper.

  11. Brian Mann says:

    Jeff –

    I think your sarcasm and mockery are sad. People have died here and it warrants a sober, level-headed discussion.

    If you think I’m wrong, fine — make your points intelligently, not with disjointed zingers and one-liner talking points.

    The situation warrants that kind of thoughtfulness, don’t you think?

    Brian, NCPR

  12. JDM says:

    If every one in that line in Arizona was carrying a gun, this would not have happened. Carrying a gun doesn’t mean more shooting, rather, it becomes the necessary deterrent to anyone even thinking about doing such a thing.

    Same goes for college campuses. The more armed we are, the safer we are.

  13. Myown says:

    It does seem lot of the rhetoric lately has become extreme with both politicians and media personalities demonizing political opponents and using frontier/Rambo type gun language references. Words have consequences and speakers have responsibilities. There are limits to “free speech”. Yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is not protected free speech. And some of what is on the airwaves and media crosses the line of free speech. Besides, broadcast media airwaves and cable operate via a publically regulated commodity. An individual’s right to free speech is not the issue. We are really talking about commercial speech where entertainers are being paid large sums of money to spew division and discourse and politicians cynically play to their base. These violent incidents are becoming more frequent – including some directly tied to Beck.

    Yes as you said Brian, “…it’s long past time that the right’s leadership — from Fox News’ Roger Ailes to House Speaker John Boehner to national conservative spokesman Rush Limbaugh — take specific and forceful action to curb this activity.” But I doubt they will. Palin is already expressing outrage that anyone would link her crosshairs image and gun rhetoric with actual violence. I think the public has a right and it is time to consider limits on commercial broadcast speech that demonizes others and uses violent/gun language and images in their messages. We need public civil respectful discourse between various parties if we want to maintain our democratic civilization.

  14. JDM says:

    If we are going to start to measure violent speech, let’s start here:

    Obama: ‘If They Bring a Knife to the Fight, We Bring a Gun’

    June 14, 2008, 1:29 PM ET Wall Street Journal

  15. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    We often look at events in other countries and are incredulous about what happens there, a politician murdered in Pakistan, a suicide bombing killing several people (pick one of many countries), a political movement that tries to stifle all dissent. We shake our heads and congratulate ourselves that we are different.

  16. Brian Mann says:

    Mervel –

    Obviously, I disagree with David Gergen’s point fairly passionately.

    Yes, the blogosphere has lit up with plenty of essays like mine.

    But it also has been busy with clumsy rhetoric like Gergen’s, suggesting that there is “finger pointing” or a “blame game” going on here.

    Those terms suggest that someone is trying to score cheap political points, or win rhetorical victories.

    That may motivate some writers, but not me.

    My point is very simple: Civil politics are a fragile thing.

    They can handle fierce language, but they cannot digest violent rhetoric, no matter how veiled or coded.

    This congresswoman had already expressed fears about her safety, following an incident at her office following the health care vote and a prior instance where a man brought a gun to one of her previous public events.

    Now she lies desperately wounded at the hand of an assassin.

    Gergen is, of course, correct — the gunman may prove simply to be deranged and unmotivated by any coherent political influence or ideology.

    But is it premature to say that this crime should inspire us to marginalize violent rhetoric in our politics? No.

    Is it dishonest or inaccurate to point out that violent rhetoric is currently a problem more of the right than the left? Again, no.

    –Brian, NCPR

  17. Myown says:

    JDM – one out of context statement three years ago hardly compares to the daily vitriol and violent references coming from the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, Palin and other FOX commentators. It is a poison that permeates and percolates thru society setting a tone that some will view as acceptability for taking whatever means necessary to stop the “traitors”, “evil ones”, “socialists” and all the other names they use to demean, degrade and dehumanize other human beings they disagree with. The results can be lethal not only to an individual but to our society and democracy. It has to stop.

  18. dave says:

    “Those who erode and threaten that principle should be marginalized by every responsible American.”

    Bravo for this statement.

    I’d like to see this take place here.

    Think back to that Chris Gibson video where a supporter of his “joked(?)” that he wouldn’t trust Scott Murphy with his guns… but he would trust him with his bullet.

    Hell, even on this blog there is at least one regular commenter who has made multiple comments and statements over the last year that falls close to the vitriol and rhetoric you are talking about.

    I agree with you. I think it is time we all begin to marginalize these people… call them out… and do not accept their comments as part of the discussion.

    Let’s start here.

  19. JDM says:

    Brian says, “Is it dishonest or inaccurate to point out that violent rhetoric is currently a problem more of the right than the left? Again, no.”

    How do you defend this statement? Do you call it hate speech to say we want our taxes lower? Do you call it hate speech to say that don’t want to have to start giving out 1099s to everyone who does $600 in business?

    I think the left realizes it cannot win a debate on the merit of its content, so it has to “shut down” conservative talk by calling every idea on the right, “hate speech”

  20. Brian Mann says:

    JDM –

    There are straw men arguments and their are straw giant arguments. Your latest comment falls in the second category.

    How does rejecting politicians who use violent rhetoric connect with debates over lowering taxes?

    There is, literally, no linkage here. Zero. Doesn’t exist.

    If a politician isn’t adept enough to make a compelling argument about taxes without resorting to gun-infused rhetoric, they shouldn’t be in high office.

    –Brian, NCPR

  21. Mervel says:

    Paranoid schizophrenics (which I would calculate this young man is), will indeed sometimes fixate on language or specific individuals; sometimes religion etc. This guy seemed to be obsessed with language and mind control. Can we make the jump from ignorant militaristic rhetoric such as “lock and load” and “taking someone out” which I have seen in people like Palin and Beck use; to the impact that language has on some mentally ill?
    I will allow that it does give us a chance to address the use of that language, which I have always just perceived as being used by someone who was not very bright or was trying to appeal to people who were not very bright or at least never left the emotional age of a 15 year old boy. But maybe it is deeper and we as conservatives should try to marginalize this language, i.e. take it seriously?

  22. Mervel says:

    He is described as LEFT wing. So is this a case of far left extremism?

    No the answer is none of the above and yes we should discuss the language used, but I do think it is very wrong to try to tie this all together in a neat package.

  23. PNElba says:

    It probably shouldn’t be surprising that this assassination took place in Arizona. The political rhetoric used in that state over the last couple of years has been beyond the pale.

    Yes, the murderer is being described as left wing because he claimed to have read “Mein Kampf” and Karl Marx. Again not surprising since these days all liberals are considered Nazis and/or Communists.

  24. Sheila Newtown says:

    I don’t think you can talk about heated speech in politics without talking about who benefits most from such speech. The media makes a tremendous amount of money from negativity, partisanship, and demonization of individuals. Whole networks have sprung up and become extraordinarily profitable by demonizing certain political groups while at the same time making their viewers feel like victims instead of citizens. How many political pundits are now multi-millionaires because they bash one side or the other?
    Also we have fewer and fewer companies controlling the media. CBS, a network supposedly part of the liberal media, owns Eagle Publishing which makes profits from books written by Glenn Beck and others right wing speakers. So really it is in CBS’ monetary interest to keep the rhetoric hot and nasty so they can work both sides.
    Finally, there is the National Association of Broadcasters, one main goal of which is lobbying the government on the behalf of media. As such bigwigs in journalism meet, court and give awards to the very people they are suppose to be watching and reporting on. In this atmosphere no media company is going to allow real discussion of what’s ripping us apart when they are so vested in protecting their own interests. Non-biased reporting and “no spin” is a sad and pathetic joke.
    Their is too much money made in obnoxious and tripe journalism for mature discussion on how to change attitudes. There is too much worship of right wing and left wing divas and celebrities of the news media itself to allow the media to do anything so non-narcissistic as be honest about where their wealth is coming from.

  25. JDM says:

    Myown says, “JDM – one out of context statement three years ago hardly compares to the daily vitriol and violent references coming from the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, Palin and other FOX commentators. ”

    I quoted the President and the article, which was a headline from the Wall Street Journal. If you think they took the President out of context, write to them.

    Your worries over what commentators are saying misses the point as well. Most of the time they are quoting elected officials and their hate speech.

    Once they quote an elected official, you treat it as if they originated the quote themselves and blame them for making up hate speech.

    As Brian said, the onus is on the elected official to tame down their speech, starting with the President, the former Speaker, Pelosi, et. al. and then the commentary on what they said will also diminish.

  26. mervel says:

    I guess under this thinking Jody Foster is to blame for John Hinkly’s actions.

  27. verplanck says:


    you missed the point Myown made – one statement is not equal to the daily drumbeat of the conservatives’ speech. Do you have more news articles with folks on the left saying such things? Media Matters keeps track of the dangerous speech on the right and has quite the library of inciteful speech.

    you then went on to dismiss what commentators said by claiming that they merely quoting elected officials. How does Sarah Palin fit into that statement? Take a look at what Brian quoted from her in the post. In any case, you don’t get a pass if you just repeat a quote. You’re furthering its existence and making sure more people hear it.

    In any case, the point here isn’t whether the shooter was a rightie or a leftie. In many cases (including this), their political thoughts are very different and cannot be put in either of the two categories. It also obfuscates the point – this isn’t another political game that scores points for one side or the other. The point is that for two years, we’ve had dramatically more inflammatory speech presented to the american public. It’s inevitable that this rhetoric will push someone over the edge. We have freedom of speech in this country, but we have a responsibility as well. If you cannot get on board with these statements, then I would consider you to be part of the problem.

    I can debate the issues here and on other blogs without resorting to comments that my opponents should be killed, or that I need to stock up on guns, or that the election of the other guy will take away all my freedoms. Shouldn’t it be simple for everyone else to do the same?

  28. Myown says:

    JDM – I respectfully suggest your analysis, of who is responsible for the overwhelming majority of the current plague of violent and demeaning political speech, would benefit of a little more objectivity.

  29. phahn50 says:

    The shooter was originally a lefty who switched to righty (according to at least one report)- probably because conservative language use fit more with his paranoid fantasies. My question is – if they conservatives hadnt adopted such a violent language pattern, would the shooter have not killed anyone? Or would he have instead become a jihadi like the army psychiatrist in response to the Imams, or would he have, in his delusions, killed his college classmates/administrators? In other words, did the conservative language cause him to become homicidal, or did it just focus his homicidal rage?

  30. Mervel says:

    I think those are good questions. The answer from my own limited experience with the mentally ill is neither. It is just so risky to make those kinds of jumps. I mean if he was a confirmed socialist would we be talking about violent left wing language? Do we blame the language of the left for Lee Harvey Oswald’s actions since he had just returned from the Soviet Union? These kinds of connections just don’t do very well when we are talking about mental illnesses.

    There have been these types of killings regardless of the political chatter for generations. I think a better discussion would be our mental health system and how to get people the treatment that they need, but its much easier to quickly point a finger and move on.

  31. Walker says:

    While I fully appreciate the importance of the political speech issue, I think it would be wrong to ignore the gun control implications of this. We have already seen in this thread someone claim that if everyone at that supermarket had been armed, this wouldn’t have happened.

    But notice that it was an injured woman and two unarmed bystanders who stopped this guy, not a heavily armed citizenry. I suspect that if the police had shown up while the shooter was still armed, or if any of the bystanders had been armed, MORE people would have died, from stray gunfire.

    We need gun control AND sane political discourse.

  32. phahn50 says:

    also Walker – the army psychiatrist killed many people in the presence of heavily armed and highly trained soldiers (so guns dont do much good in that situation) . We do need gun control, but we arent going to get it no matter what. What we might get is a conversation leading to ratcheting down the violent language and emotions that have become common in conservative political discourse.

    And Mervel – as many have pointed out, 50 years ago there was violent language coming from political leftists that definitely lead to people being killed/assassinated – although I cant think of any examples of stirring up the mentally ill. But we are talking about now, 2011, when all that talk in the USA is coming from the political right (and, internationally, the Islamic religious extremists).

  33. Pete Klein says:

    Speaking of gun control, I understand the shooter’s Glock could hold 31 rounds. Other than drug dealers, I see no reason why anyone needs to be able to shoot 31 rounds before reloading.
    If you know how to shoot, you only need one or two. If you don’t know how to shoot and aim, maybe you shouldn’t own a gun.

  34. mervel says:


    I don’t agree that the only toxic language is coming from the Right. It is very dangerous to start jumping to these sorts of wild connections to score a point against a political opponent. For example this young man who killed these people was heavily into smoking pot…..aha I knew pot caused people to be violent!

    I think they are two separate issues, toxic and ignorant political language and the rare but deadly violence by people who have a mental illness which is what this looks to be.

    I just find it depressing that what should be a time to talk about how we help families with children who are mentally ill and possibly dangerous; becomes about Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh and how mean those darn conservatives are.

  35. JDM says:

    Walker says, “I suspect that if the police had shown up while the shooter was still armed, or if any of the bystanders had been armed, MORE people would have died, from stray gunfire.”

    Your conclusions are inconsistent with your analysis. If what you say is true, target practice, not gun control, would be the solution.

    My point is that an armed population is a deterrent to this kind of behavior. No one draws their weapon, because everyone assumes anyone, or everyone else is likewise armed.

  36. phahn50 says:

    JDM you are wrong. Armed populations are much more dangerous and not a deterrent to this kind of behavior. If that were so, Iraq and afghanistan would be the safest places on the earth.

  37. Mervel says:

    No an armed population would not be a deterrent to this sort of situation. It may be a deterrent in other situations, I don’t know, but not in this one, it would have made no difference at all. Easy access to assault weapons for anyone no matter how disturbed they are would indeed make it more likely that these situations happen however.

  38. Walker says:

    JDM says “No one draws their weapon, because everyone assumes anyone, or everyone else is likewise armed.”

    That’s fine, if all your citizenry is rational. Your point crumbles, though, when you are dealing with irrational people.

    And incidentally, I think it would be fair to say that the police have plenty of target practice. But many innocent people are hit by police gunfire each year.

  39. JDM says:

    Walker says,

    “That’s fine, if all your citizenry is rational. Your point crumbles, though, when you are dealing with irrational people.”

    No, your point crumbles with irrational people in Tucson.

    I don’t know about the armed population in Iraq. I do know that Israel is pretty peaceful, and you get used to seeing all the guys carrying machine guns after an hour or so.

  40. phahn50 says:

    Israel peaceful??? give me a break. I was there during the last indifada. I did not get used to seeing all the guys carrying machine guns. They were carrying them for a reason.

  41. Walker says:

    You’re missing the point– this guy was crazy. He wasn’t thinking about the odds of being killed by the gun-toting citizenry of Arizona, who, base on their laws, could have all been carrying.

    Look, a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting, a criminal assault or homicide, or an attempted or completed suicide than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense. (Journal of Trauma, 1998)

    This whole idea that you’re safer owning a gun is a fantasy. And it’s even more of a fantasy to think that gun ownership is any protection against a tyrannical government, unless you think the citizenry is going to go out and purchase a significant number of helicopter gunships, bombers and fighter jets.

  42. phahn50 says:

    To bring this full circle its quite possible that the conservative gun fetish played as big a role in this tragedy as their uncivil discourse. Both feeding into his delusions and providing him with the physical means (the glock)..

  43. Jeff says:

    There are days in my life
    When everything is dreary,
    I grow pessimistic,
    Sad and world weary,
    But when I am tearful
    And fearfully upset,
    I always remember this
    Merry little minuet.
    etc. Sheldon Harnick sung by the Kingston Trio

    If this topic had been raised apart from the tragedy of last weekend its discussion may have stayed on course better. The clamor instantly dragged in gun control. The sadness of the deaths cranks emotions. Both blur the discussion.

    Brian’s initial thought perhaps poses a symptom to a root cause. Until a cause is determined anyone discussing the issue is tilting at windmills. Some will say strike (the topic) while the topic- firearms rhetoric- draws attention. The reaction proves the reason people use words that crank people- to get action or draw attention- but it is action on emotion rather than clear thinking. The point at which one should restrain the rhetoric cannot be considered with emotion anymore than pornography is know when seen.

    But we should be tranquil
    and thankful and proud,
    For man’s been endowed with a
    Mushroomed shaped cloud.

    And we know for certain
    That some lovely day,
    Someone will set the spark off
    And we will all be blown away.

  44. oa says:

    Obviously, recently, both sides have used and acted on violent rhetoric exactly the same amount:

    — July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how “liberals” are “destroying America,” walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

    — October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

    — December 2008: A pair of “Patriot” movement radicals — the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure” — threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

    — December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

    — January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

    — February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

    — April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

    — April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama’s purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

    — May 2009: A “sovereign citizen” named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

    — June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

    — February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one “domestic terrorism” too.)

    — March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

    — March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

    — May 2010: A “sovereign citizen” from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

    — May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

    — May 2010: Two “sovereign citizens” named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

    — July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

    — September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year–old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

  45. phahn50 says:

    yeah – both sides.

  46. Mervel says:

    There are no sides to schizophrenia. Part of the problem is we always want to talk about sides and politics and win the debate that in my mind IS the problem. Do you want me to find a list on the internet of every random gun crime and list the politics of the killer?

    I just don’t buy the connections.

  47. Pete Klein says:

    A popular refrain is “Never again.” The problem with it, as history shows, never again happens again and again.
    We do need to tone down the language but we also need to realize that it won’t stop bad things from happening.
    We can pass all the laws we want but that won’t stop bad things from happening.
    We declare war on this that and the other thing and still these things happen and the wars are never won.
    Yes, do tone down the language and maybe even limit the ownership of pistols to the average citizen to six-shooters but even if we do that, we will not prevent a crazy from doing something crazy.
    And just for the record, I don’t believe insanity should ever be a defense on a murder charge.

  48. Walker says:

    No, just a list of killings by big government tax and spend liberals. Even a short list.

    And if you can’t come up with a short list, your thoughts on why.

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