ED NOTE: The WEEKENDER has elected to publish my column on a bi-weekly basis.
This is an “Off week”, so I will provide you, the faithful blog reader with a WEEKENDER column from earlier this year until I come up with something else for every other week. Suggestions welcome. Will write for food.
What can you say about the shootings in Tucson that hasnâ€™t already been said? Hundreds of gallons of ink and gigabytes of bandwidth have been used up, trying to explain, blame and maybe even justify what went on that January Saturday. Was it just two weeks ago?
The World Wide Web has played a huge role in this tragedy. Moments before her brain caught the bullet of Jared Lee Loughner, Gabrielle Giffordsâ€™ last tweet was: â€˜Let Me Know What Is on Your Mind.â€™ Clearly what Loughner had on his mind was murder. And he let the world know.
A Google search on Tucson Shooting provides news stories first, and then Tucsonshooting.com That links to a gun blog, gunwebsites.net This link is no coincidence. A Who is search shows that it was updated to point at the gun blog on January 8th. Someone took the time while the blood was still fresh on the sidewalk of the Safeway supermarket location in Casas Adobes, to make sure search engine optimization would land more traffic on their blog. Sound work, webmaster.
The blog has this statement, bordered in black up on top:
â€œWe were horrified and saddened to learn about the attack and loss of life today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the other victims of the senseless tragedy. We hope and pray for the speedy recovery of all the survivors, as well as the swiftest possible justice for the perpetrator of this horrific crime.â€
The big news story on the blog? The next item? â€œNew Range Being Built in Tucson, Arizona.â€
Not doubting the sincerity of the gun bloggers but it does look a bit odd.
And what of the shooter? First off, Jared Lee Loughner, as pictured in his police mug shot, looks crazier than a shit-house rat. News reports state he was first turned down trying to purchase ammo the day of the shooting. Too bad the second clerk who sold the rounds that killed six people and reportedly wounded 14 more didnâ€™t use that same yardstick. If he looked like that mug shot I donâ€™t think I would have sold him a cap gun, never mind the boxes of deadly ammo they found at the scene.
To me, that is the crux of the issue here. All the noise about how the â€œmediaâ€ needs to tone down the rhetoric, how the public discourse is forcing people to do such heinous acts is missing the point. Somewhere, somehow, someone needs to look at a guy like Loughner, look at him long and hard and say, Buddy, I donâ€™t think you are a good candidate for a high-powered handgun.
Hindsight is, of course, a facile way to look at such events. Itâ€™s easy to blame people for not having alerted someone that Loughner was going off the rails. But, at the very least if you got a voicemail saying â€œGoodbyeâ€ wouldnâ€™t you have tried to find out what he was talking about? I guess itâ€™s all useless conjecture now, but a Myspace entry like â€œGoodbye friends. Please don’t be mad at me,â€ clearly begs for intervention of some sort.
Having said that I donâ€™t think we can ever truly prevent such atrocities and remain a free country. If someone is determined enough they will get a pistol, a rifle or a truckload of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and do harm to innocent people.
Itâ€™s nothing new and certainly not unknown to us in Northeast Pa. Nearly 3 decades ago, George Emil Banks opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and ended the lives of 13 people in Wilkes-Barre City and Jenkins Township, including five of his own children.
I ate lunch last week with, among others, an 8 year-old girl and her father. Big screen TVâ€™s showed the story. She asked her father about it.
â€œJust a crazy man, with a gun, killed some people,â€ he said.
The Rant D’Jour is about America, Osama and Zippo lighters.
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