There are legitimate areas of political debate following the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords of Arizona that I wish to explore.
1. The counterarguments of mental health and gun ownership tend to obfuscate the amount of uncertainty present. The tendency is to offer mental illness as a “no tolerance” palliative. Once we get to specifics, we start excluding people and quite reasonably. For example, bulimia hardly seems to be a reason to exclude a person from gun ownership. Moving to the area of universal agreement, psychotic tendencies are reasonable grounds for denying gun ownership. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fall into the category of observing the sky is blue. We are always looking at a combination of some people slipping through the cracks and false positives. Then there is the matter of those suffering mental illness and those known to the mental health community not being coextensive. This will never be remedied. I have seen ex post facto claims that the man who committed this act is mentally ill. Whether in this particular case this is true doesn’t change that there really is no actual remedy of keeping guns away from those who are mentally ill.
2. The only relevant words in “high capacity semiautomatic gun” are “high capacity.” This is the weapon that was purchased for use in the attack. (Wiki) It uses a 9 mm round, a fairly light duty round in my understanding, but I’ll defer to gun experts on that one. Finding revolvers with similar and greater stopping power would not be difficult at all, and revolvers are typically not the targets of bans when we are speaking of banning based on style of weapon. The 33-round magazines are I believe a legitimate area of debate and worthy of regulation. He was able to fully discharge one magazine and was disarmed while attempting to load a new magazine. I think we can definitively claim the 33-round magazine capacity wasn’t decisive in his ability to shoot the Congresswoman, but I think we can claim the number of rounds increased the breadth of destruction.3. Distinctions need to be made between acting as the head of a group, as a member of a group, and as a sympathizer of a group, particularly when we are speaking about large groups. Almost always we are speaking of sympathizers, and it is just lazy to blame a group for the acts of a sympathizer. If the group actually supported the act, they could have explicitly advocated it or done it itself. More often, the group has already condemned such courses of action and the actor sees the group as part of the enemy because they have gone soft by condemning the course of action. Such isn’t to claim that no lessons can be learned though. I’ve been known to say that you can tell a lot about a blog by the fruits and nuts it attracts. One can of course offer the counter that this is the Internet and anyone can read any blog they please. Certainly true, but not really responsive. What distinguishes a fruit or nut is that they feel comfort expressing their fruitiness or nuttiness in your confines. Often that comfort is the absence of explicit rebuke. Take for example all of the “orthodox” blogs you could visit and offer a nasty rebuke of Cardinal “Mahoney” and be patted on the back. People seem to think freedom of speech means an absence of social responsibility. I’m afraid you won’t find that in the First Amendment. Those that abuse their social responsibility should be rebuked by society. That was true before the shooting.