In the aftermath of the senseless wounding of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, and the murder of six others, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina Green, there will be many who will use this tragedy to advance their own political agendas.
Explanations will be sought and blame assigned. Necessary questions will be asked: Did the clerk at the Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson violate any laws in selling the Glock 19 9mm gun to the accused, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner? Loughner reportedly cleared an FBI background check. So why didn't that check discover what one Arizona official called Loughner's "mental issues" and should they have disqualified him from purchasing the weapon?
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is being criticized because she "targeted" some Democratic members of Congress for defeat in the November election, superimposing crosshairs on their districts on her SarahPAC website. Rep. Giffords was one of those "targeted." At the time, Giffords criticized the display saying people need to be "responsible" for their actions. Left-wing bloggers blamed Palin for contributing to the poisoned political atmosphere, but that explanation is too easy.
Next week is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration. Less than three years later, left-wing Soviet sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy. Were liberals to blame for that horrific killing? Of course not. The assassins of Presidents William McKinley (an unemployed anarchist) and James Garfield (a disgruntled man rejected for a diplomatic post) lived in an era free of talk radio and cable TV. Radio, TV and social media didn't exist when actor John Wilkes Booth, a confederate sympathizer, shot and killed Abraham Lincoln. More gun laws would not have stopped Booth, or the others for whom laws against murder were not deterrents.
The best "explanation" for this horror came from Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. In a statement, McCain put the blame where it belongs, on "a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion." He added, "Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law."
That is moral clarity. It places blame where it should be, on the shooter. Many people listen to talk radio, or watch political debates on cable TV. They don't then pick up a gun and attempt to assassinate public officials.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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