Monday, January 10, 2011

Political Hay-Making Attempts from the Tucson Shooting Have Begun

The attempts to exploit the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for political ends has already begun.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), who first ran for political office after the death of her husband and injury of her son during a shooting, announced she will introduce legislation intended to target high-capacity magazines.

In support of this measure, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) said the following, according to Politico:

"'The ability to buy a weapon that fires hundreds of bullets in less than a minute,'” said Quigley. "'He had an additional magazine capability. That’s not what a hunter needs. That’s not what someone needs to defend their home. That’s what you use to hunt people.'"

How knowledgeable is Rep. Quigley about what sort of guns people "need"?

For the record, high-capacity magazines probably aren't necessary for run-of-the-mill burglars, muggers, home invaders, would-be rapists, violent crazed exes, etc.  However, I remember an account of a Korean-owned small business during the 1991 Los Angeles riots that was besieged by a large number of rioters.  The proprietors attempted to defend their business with their personal arms but found themselves outgunned and were forced to flee.

(I saw a CNN special about the riots long ago and I think it was a jewelry store--I remember seeing an older Korean lady later berating passers-by about their lack of human dignity from the ruins of the shop afterward.)

Higher-capacity rapid-fire guns would have been useful about then, since the proprietors were dealing with a much larger number of opponents who also had at least one superior weapon.  Situations like that don't happen very often, but in at least one case, such a weapon would have been helpful in defense of one's business if not one's home.

If any gun-control measures should be implemented as a result of this incident, it should be a tightening-up of the existing laws preventing those with certain degrees of mental illness from getting guns.  And "mental illness" should be defined very tightly, lest some Iraq or Afghan vet with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder be banned from owning a gun.

On a more sinister note, Politico reports Philadelphia Democrat U.S. Rep. Robert Brady said he intends to introduce a bill criminalizing the use of threatening language or symbols directed toward federal officials or members of Congress.

On my alternate-history forum, someone posted the image of a map Sarah Palin created depicting crosshairs on states whose representatives voted for Obama's health-care reform package.  I heard the map was taken down from Palin's web-site, but it can be found here:

However, the map does not call for any kind of violence--I think the red markers are for representatives who lost elections, not their lives or personal health.

Furthermore, although certain parties (some members of my message-board, for starters) tried to pin the shooting on the Tea Party, right-wing extremists, etc., it's not just them who use allegedly-threatening imagery.

DailyKos also used gun-related imagery re: Giffords.  Scroll down to post #65 to see it:

Given how the shooter Jared Lee Loughner is a 9/11 Truther (among other conspiracy theories), using the same standards the loopy-lefties (not all lefties, just the loopy ones) used to blame Palin and the Tea Party for the shooting in Tucson, one could blame DailyKos and the "netroots" in general for the shooting.

However, according to the more recent events, the shooter had a personal grudge against Giffords because she didn't answer some nonsensical question about how the government is controlling people through grammar a few years ago.

I don't see how it's really fair to blame any political faction, be it the Tea Party or the netroots, for this episode, and it's NOT cool to start infringing on people's freedom of speech as a result.  I don't claim to be a mind reader, but I'll bet Brady had Palin's "crosshairs" imagery in mind when he proposed this bill.

There are already laws against actually threatening politicians and crosshairs imagery in the context Palin's group and DailyKos used it is NOT a "true threat."

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