I have been appalled listening to people defend gun laws that allow ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons with them wherever they go in Arizona. Equally upsetting is hearing from those who believe there is no link whatsoever between the murders which just occurred in Tucson and the inflammatory, hateful political rhetoric which has been heard so often in the US in recent months.
Yet even in the conservative gun-toting state of Arizona, the local Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (admittedly, a Democrat) said, following the murders,”The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous”, adding that “the rhetoric of hatred…has an impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with…We [in Arizona] have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Surely, Sheriff Dupnik is in a better position than most of us to judge the political climate in his state. If he is worried about the impact of “the rhetoric of hatred” that he hears all around him, then we all need to be worried too. Words have power, maybe even beyond what people have imagined, and now would be a good time for political parties to become more aware of the impact of words: inflammatory or conciliatory or tolerant. We have a choice. We don’t have to be trapped in an “us” and ”them” black and white world.
Alan Korwin, an author in Arizona who wrote the Arizona Gun Owner’s Guide, was interviewed by CBC’s Carol Off on As it Happens on January 10, and said of the Tucson incident, “The greatest tragedy was that there was no one else there with a Glock or firearm.” If only someone else in the crowd had also been packing a Glock, that person could have taken out the murderer, ended the massacre, and been a hero. When host Carol Off asked if it was a good idea for citizens to start shooting at each other in a public forum, Korwin seemed affronted, “You make it sound like the Wild West. We’re law-abiding….When citizens are armed, they are a deterrent to crime.”
He didn’t seem to get it that armed citizens also have the perfect opportunity to commit crimes. The perpetrator in Tucson walked into the mall that day completely legally, carrying a concealed gun.
My hope is that this tragic massacre will be a cathartic time, when thoughtful reflection replaces knee jerk reaction. Perhaps it will be an awakening of Americans to the fact that they are standing at an abyss and cannot continue to incite people by hate-filled rhetoric without the possibility of another Tucson. As far as “gun control” goes, it seems an appropriate time for Americans to reconsider their gun laws yet again. Will this tragedy become an opportunity for people to change course in the eleventh hour and adopt a more measured response to their differences of opinion, on health care or immigration or gun control? We can only hope.
“Tragedy in Tucson” TopPopular.com
“American Flag made of Guns” NewJunkie.com Artist Unknown. If you are the artist, please contact us at Life As a Human.
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