Tragedies shouldn’t dictate fast policy

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 16, 2011

Everyone has weighed in on the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz., each it seems looking to promote their own personal agenda.

One problem seems to be that many people are trying to make this more than it is.

This wasn’t really a political statement. It wasn’t a terrorist attack. It wasn’t an example that our gun laws are too lax. It wasn’t proof that Americans are too violent because of what we see on TV.

Email newsletter signup

The Jan. 8 tragedy was the result of the actions of a lone individual who can only be considered deranged, at best.

Straight out crazy might be accurate, and that is meant as no disrespect to the many Americans who have legitimate diagnosed mental illnesses for which they seek treatment.

But when you open fire on a crowd of innocent bystanders, I don’t know what other word to use.

Jared Loughner, a 22-year-old man who is now believed to have had some problems dealing with society and authority, opened fire on a political gathering, killing six and injuring 14 more.

The target appears to have been Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded, but six others have lost their lives.

Politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle are quick to say that this is perfect proof that more gun legislation is needed.

The problem is that you cannot legislate against irrational actions.

Would more restrictive gun laws have prevented this? Probably not.

The old saying goes that, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

If Mr. Loughner was that intent on harming these people, he would have found a way to do so and gotten the weapons he needed.

Guns will never be eliminated. Weapons can never be eradicated. The primary reason is that almost anything can be a weapon.

If it wasn’t a gun it would have been a knife. Or a bomb. Or a bus. Or something else that the law-abiding citizens would never see as a danger.

This attack has opened new aggression toward the Second Amendment, but that criticism is off base and is a knee-jerk reaction.

Still, the finger pointing started almost immediately.

It was the Republicans that caused this. It was the Democrats who are to blame. It was the Tea Partiers who incited this type of action. It was the waxing or waning of the moon.

The list goes on and on.

But we do need to find a way to build unity in our nation and get back to the core principles of democracy.

That would be that this is a government for the people, by the people.

You don’t like what our leaders are doing? Fix it with a vote, not a bullet.

There seems to be a growing level of animosity and hatred among far too many human beings in general that will only erode the foundation on which our country was built.

The deaths in Tucson were a terrible tragedy that shows there will always be individuals who don’t get the help they need and may be a danger to others.

But we shouldn’t allow isolated incidents to bully our nation into making knee-jerk laws that are designed to take away freedoms from the majority of Americans who follow the law.

That is legislating for the lowest common denominator and won’t move our nation forward.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at