Opinion: What “sane” Americans can learn from the shooting in Tucson



Bryan Staul

By now we all know about the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. We have seen the faces of the victims: a young

Congresswoman cut down, a man who was killed while shielding his wife from the hail of gunfire, a political staffer who was to be married, a federal judge who himself received death threats, a 9-year-old girl and many others.

All of these people were the victims of what Robert F. Kennedy once called the “mindless menace of violence,” which he would ultimately become a victim of himself.

The gunman immediately became a point of political intrigue. Liberals claimed he was the byproduct of the Tea Party, and conservatives claimed he was a liberal. Once again, media figures and politicians are missing the point. The gunman was purely and simply insane.

His political ideology doesn’t fall into a particular category, and the only information we have on his views are paranoid, nonsensical rants which are exactly what one would expect from a madman.

However, this is still a political issue and now America needs to have national discussion about the sad state of our political structures. Over the past two years, the rhetoric has become heated and over the top. It is undeniable that most of the controversial speech is on the right. Glenn Beck’s daily apocalyptic rants, Sharron Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies,” and of course Tea Party activists bringing firearms to presidential rallies.

Liberals are not immune to over-the-top rhetoric, and should not be given a free pass. The “General Betray Us” sign referring to General David Petraeus comes to mind. National unity is what we need, and steps need to be taken to protect our legislators.

The gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, used a handgun with a clip extension, which allowed him to fire more than 30 bullets. This type of extension was illegal up until the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired.

Lawmakers should begin discussing legislation on banning such weapons again. President Obama should openly address the mass hysteria that has infected our citizens in the hope that he may shame those who have turned civil discourse into an angry mob.

The most important thing is that the silent majority of sane Americans stand up so that we can isolate the extremists on either end of the political spectrum.

On Saturday morning, we witnessed the worst of human nature, but now we have an important opportunity to learn from it and use this tragedy to highlight the best of this country. So let’s stand up to those who call President Obama a communist. Call them out. When someone claims the Republicans have no regard for the people of Afghanistan, tell them the truth.

This behavior has no place in a civilized society. The days of fear controlling our country must come to an end immediately. If irrational Americans controlled the past two years, let’s make 2011 a year for rational Americans controlling the national message.

Bryan Staul is a sophomore political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].