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Updated on February 10, 2011

I was watching 'Meet the Press' last Sunday and witnessed a discussion among the Moderator, Sen. Schumer of New York and Sen. Coburn of Oklahoma. When the question was raised about what could have prevented the shooting tragedy in Tucson earlier this month, Sen. Coburn blamed the school that the assailant attended and public institutions for failing to identify and properly treat the shooter as mentally ill.

Well, we had Cho in Virginia, Timothy McVeigh and countless others who have participated in mayhem over the last few years. Someone needs to tell the Conservatives in regards to this issue that hindsight is always “20/20”. It is not against the law to be mentally ill and regardless of the treatment this young man may or may not have received what societal safeguards were in place to have prevented him from buying a pistol with a magazine holding over 30 rounds? Particularly in Arizona, if the shooter had been properly identified as mentally ill, what or who could have prevented him from obtaining the gun in an open marketplace? Depending on your perspective, all of us can be accused of being less than mentally coherent at one time or another, when does that rise to the level where society can for its own safety restrict rights and privileges of an individual? What procedures are in place for us to make these determinations and put them into law and practice? In Arizona, we are not even close. These are the kinds of questions that I want the Conservative to answer instead of always reciting in unison from the playbook. Who can determine if anyone is mentally ill in the manner or to the extent where that person would be capable of killing six people in a handgun rampage? What mechanisms are in place that require mentally ill people to get treatment and who makes the determination that a person is mentally ill from a societal standpoint? Mr. Coburn was engaging in semantics and irrational banter with a national audience and it was disgusting. We all have to be smarter than this.

The Conservatives also state that if others were armed in that circumstance, the shooter may have been brought down prior to his killing and injuring so many. This is the second fallacious argument. Only “Dirty Harry” or “Superman” would have been able to instantly prepare themselves to engage the target effectively. Unfortunately, both of them are fictional characters. The reality is that more weapons would have produced more fatalities and injuries. After all, Arizona allows anyone to carry a gun without registration, licensing, and a training requirement for proper use. In the face of all of this, do you really think that having a “Gauntlet” like situation would have improved the outcome at the shopping center in Tucson?

Yes, I have heard the tiresome bromide that ‘guns don’t kill people, but people kill people’. Yes, chain saws and Bowie knives can and do kill, but what is more dangerous and immediate than a hand gun with a large clip capacity? I ask the Conservative, who is he trying to fool with this third and final fallacious argument?


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