- The alleged killer, Jared Loughner. No question. An individual killed people. An individual is responsible. Yet most of us sense that there is more to it. While other things are not directly responsible nor as responsible, still, there are other factors that could have aided and abetted this mass killing and wounding.
- Political rhetoric and violent gun metaphors. Despite Sarah Palin's protests to the contrary, words have consequences. She is especially notorious for stirring up the baser instincts of her fans. Even the Secret Service noticed. Sarah Palin Blamed by U.S. Secret Service Over Death Threats Against Obama. Add to her, the talk radio crowd. But who knows regarding Loughner. Who knows what or who influenced him. Charles Manson was influenced by the Beatles White album. The best you can say is to those with influence is "Try to be cool; crazies are listening." I frankly regard this as lower on the list of contributing factors than the next two.
- Lack of care for the mentally ill. This is a big one. As a nation, when we don't pay up front for education and health care (including mental health) we will pay at the end. In our small city of 60,000 we have mentally ill people without treatment wandering the streets. There are millions of ticking time bombs all over the country whose motive is nothing more than delusion waiting for the perfect storm of means and opportunity. We can expect many more mass killings to come.
- The gun lobby and the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic assault weapons. This is the major contributing factor. Guns provide the violently mentally ill with the means. The gun lobby has bullied this country mercilessly with money, fear, and propaganda. I hear stupid arguments like this one: "If they didn't have access to guns they would use tire irons." What??!! Good! Let them use a tire iron. There would be far fewer dead and wounded in Tucson if Jared had started attacking people with a tire iron. You don't give killers 9mm semi-automatic Glocks any more than you would give one to your three year old.
Rachel Maddow had an excellent show last night regarding the semi-automatic weapon responsible for the deaths of six and the wounding of a dozen people. Watch the show and read the transcript. It is simply insane that these weapons exist.
I call on my fellow Presbyterians and Presbyterian clergy to speak out now for gun control.
Our denomination has a thirty-year history of education and advocacy for responsible gun laws.
Here is a helpful litany for this Sunday that honors Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The 219th General Assembly passed Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing In Response to God's Call, which included:
d. ban semiautomatic assault weapons, armor piercing handgun ammunition, and .50 caliber sniper rifles;It is time to get loud and get active and end this insanity.