Could better gun control have prevented the Arizona massacre?

Could better gun control have prevented the Arizona massacre? The President of the Brady Center to prevent gun violence perhaps put it best in an interview yesterday saying, “[Loughner] probably couldn’t have gotten a job at a fast food joint if they checked out any references, but we allow him to buy as many guns as he wants." Loughner legally bought the gun he used to shoot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 other people at a Sportsman’s Warehouse in November of last year. It was a semi-automatic pistol with a high capacity magazine – a weapon that was illegal in the United States from 1994 until 2004 when George W. Bush did away with the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. And Arizona has among the laxest gun controls in the country.

Last year – the State Legislature – yes, the same legislature that passed the “papers, please” immigration law – also passed a law allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons in public without a permit. And in 2009 – allowed people to even carry guns in a bar. Alcohol and guns – a great mix. According to the NRA – Americans own more than 250 million guns – far more than any other country in the world. And in terms of gun violence – the numbers are staggering. As the Brady Campaign points out – in one year - 39 people were killed by gun violence in the UK, 200 in Canada, and more than 9,000 in the United States. Besides changing our political rhetoric in the country – I think it’s pretty clear we need to change our gun laws too.


Jeanie's picture
Jeanie 12 years 20 weeks ago

Someone on Stephanie Miller's blog pointed out that the 2nd Amendment has the words "well-regulated militia". Even then, the Founding Fathers recognized that people didn't have the unalienable right to have any gun at any time with no restrictions. So for those who think the 2nd Amendment guarantees them a weapon, they also must agree to regulation of that weapon. And yet they don't.

chacolvr's picture
chacolvr 12 years 20 weeks ago

I'd like to know how carrying a weapon would have helped: JFK, MLK, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, or Gaby Giffords? Unless carrying a gun suddenly makes one omniscent, and therefore able to disable the perpetrator before they act, I can't see the reasoning behind the pro-gun activists stance.

J.C.'s picture
J.C. 12 years 20 weeks ago

A question about the statistics that you are quoting for gun deaths. I do believe this should be broken down to a more TRUE evaluation instead of just lumped together. How many of those are from former military, present military, police and or criminals?

sharon Leeo 12 years 20 weeks ago

This is not an issue of gun control per-se although gun control is related (aside: if people were really interested in controlling guns they need to take it to the "gun obssesed"lazy-movie writers in Hollywood. There is a gun in 90% of their movies and when it appears it always becomes the definitive instument that changes the dynamic of the plot)

In the case of the Tucson kid he is clearly mentally ill. This is a result of zero mental health care for these type of people in our system. He needed medication and a doctor.

In the case of bi-polar and schiz types the rejection tips them off. He was rejected by the military, the community college and most impportantly-his girlfriend.

Rejection was the case in the Columbine killers mentality as well as ineffective mental health treatment. Cho, at Virginia Tech had the same problem. When the resentment builds up, they go get a gun to shoot the people who rejected them.

In the Tucson kid's case he is 22. He attended the rallies to try to conect with the congresswoman to seek validation from:

1. A nationally respected figure

2. An attractive woman.

As the information comes in he had black curly hair before which made her possibly mistake him for a Latino. He asked her a question and she apparently answered him in Spanish, mistakenly profiling him and deeply insulting him. This was the ultimate rejection from an attractive woman and someone whom he wanted to illicit respect.

This is why "he didn't like her answer" when he asked" If words don't mean anything, what is the point of government?" or words to that effect.He then came back with the gun.

The deficiency here is lack of a mental health care program which could have been located in the school itself. This tragedy will continue again and again until mental illness is recognized as a disease.

Using words to describe this type of individual as "nut case" "crazy" "lunatic" etc. don't help the problem. Millions of families live with this devastating illness, alone and in turmoil and it is tragic that they are subjected to this level of stigma and insult.

Whenever this happens the mentally ill are further shoved into the social garbage can and so the problem continues. The killings will continue because of untreated mental disease, not gun control.

watchingduck's picture
watchingduck 12 years 20 weeks ago

I found this posted by somebody on Huffington Post. It is a very powerful timeline. It is depressing, but really makes a point.

dkmich's picture
dkmich 12 years 20 weeks ago

The only one making any sense on this entire affair is ed schultz. His take (and mine) is that actions speak louder than words. The media, Obama during the state of union, and the rest of DC will condescendingly tell everyone "else" to cool their rhetoric while they all continue to pass their greedy and anti-social laws.

Actions speak so much louder than words, and political deeds have made it perfectly clear they are hateful. They don't care about anything but themselves. They gave away the jobs and won't fund unemployment. They bailed out the banks but don't care how many people are losing their homes. Americans can't afford health care and die for lack of insurance while Washington and every other industrialized country enjoys universal health care. They can't wait to bankrupt the states, defund pensions, cut pay, destroy unions, and defund the schools while they pass more laws to put people in their for-profit prisons. Endless funding for two endless wars, but we can't afford Social Security or free college for kids who won't be able to get jobs without it. This is what they need to cool. People are pissed off, and pissed off people do crazy shit. If Reagan hadn't of destroyed the mental health system, maybe this shooter would have gotten help.

If someone is loving, kind and gentle to me in their actions and deeds, people can tell me anything about them and I won't believe it. It isn't the rhetoric. It is the deeds.

Too many laws, too many cops, and not a lick of justice anywhere.

nordlie1 12 years 20 weeks ago

I think what could have prevented Jared Loughner from his murder spree comes from his own mouth: "Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.”

Exactly what the U.S.A. needs less of from our politicians. Definition ad hominem: (1) appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason; and (2) attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument. The children & young adults are frightened. They grow up in a world where sex & terrorists can kill them.

Richard Karch's picture
Richard Karch 12 years 20 weeks ago

I agree with the assessment that this guy was mentally ill and we need to confront this problem. It is amazing to think of how many of these 'lost' individuals are out there walking our streets, sleeping under bridges and stumbling along the highways without guidance. We can thank the great Conservative Hero, Ronald Reagan for emptying the mental hospitals and starting this flood.

Imagine if Jared would have had a safe facility to treat his mental illness and paranoia. Who knows, he might have become an asset instead of yet another crazed wild gun toting individuals trying to find a way to get attention by taking it out on others.

ironmikeb63's picture
ironmikeb63 12 years 20 weeks ago

I wrote a column on this subject yesterday. I really believe that making this a gun control referendum is playing into the hands of people that want to take our civil liberties and privacy rights in other ways. The column can be found here.

Thank you,


cuppajoe 12 years 20 weeks ago

Would a tightening of gun control laws, better screening, etc. have prevented this horrible situation? Maybe, maybe not. But, in the long run, since he had long clips, and multiple long clips, and was one who probably 'could not have gotten a job at a fast food joint' because of mental instability, why take the risk?

When one errors, it is always better to error on the side of 'least possible damage', rather than the other way. And, I'm sorry, least possible damage is damage to unsuspecting humans, people getting on with their own lives, not some gun runner's idea of saving himself or his 'country' from all evil.

dbriz's picture
dbriz 12 years 20 weeks ago

Blaming guns is like blaming a keypad for misspelled words....

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 12 years 20 weeks ago

Right on, dkmich!
You are correct! And well said.

And I highly recommend everyone watch the documentary currently being played on Free Speech TV called "Vietnam: America's Holocaust"
The local Germans near Nazi concentration camps were made, by General Eisenhower, to tour the facilities and the mass graves so that the Germans could not deny that this thing happened. We have Americans that will not own up to what our government and military had done in Vietnam...and now, the Middle East. After seeing this was really very eye-opening. Even though I had always opposed the Vietnam war and heard about atrocities we committed, it still does not hit home as it did after watching this documentary. It also draws parallels to our same kind of criminal actions in the Middle East.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 12 years 20 weeks ago


djcasa's picture
djcasa 12 years 20 weeks ago

Yes, we need to change our gun laws, but with America's love affair with guns and the strong gun lobby, it will never happen.

Richard Karch's picture
Richard Karch 12 years 20 weeks ago

What you are missinbg is the fact that 80 people per day die by

guns. This is nearly 30,000 per year. The UK last year had around

50 deaths total by firearms.

What are your ideas, real ideas, sensible ideas to bring these numbers

down, other than get more guns in the hands of more people.

I think intelligent people can come up something better and maybe

bring some sanity into the situation.

sharon Leeo 12 years 20 weeks ago


Consider the next movie you watch and ask yourself "When is someone going to pull out the gun?" It's really getting boring. The Matrix is a classic example. When have you seen a movie that does not feature the gun as either the total threat or the hero that saves the day? The guy who has the gun in every movie has all the power over life or death. The truth is, with the exception of Walt Disney cartoons-you haven't. (I don't remember a gun in Titanic)

The average person never fires a gun in their entire life. For most people guns are not relevant yet movie writers seem to be too lazy to come up with any real plot in 99% of the same old thing- they always haul out the guns.

Do they sit in their lounges at the pools with their margaritas in LA writing this dribble thinking:"Wow...this is really going to get 'em-watch out! the guy has a gun! "They stink as writers. The Movie industry is the single greatest marketer of guns in the world today and it dwarfs the NRA in influence.

Though this is true, there will not be one single journalist or politician that would ever take them on. It's cowardice. They will never cross the big guns.

cage77 12 years 20 weeks ago

Better, or more, gun control would not have prevented this tragedy. Sure, it might have prevented him from obtaining a firearm and ammunition legally, but Loughner would have probably gone the illegal route to get what he wanted.

BTW, the Assualt Weapon Ban, even if it had not expired, would have had little impact upon preventing this. The semi-automatic pistol was never banned, nor was the high capacity magazine. What was banned was the sale of magazines manufactured during this period to civilians. If the magazine was manufactured before the AWB, it could be sold. In all reality, the AWB had little to no impact upon gun crime. All it did was make the purchase of a new "scary looking gun" with a high capacity magazine not possible.

bicyclingjroad's picture
bicyclingjroad 12 years 20 weeks ago

I lived in Canada from 2000 to 2006. Long guns in Canada are as popular or more popular then guns in the USA. Handguns, however, are not. One reason for the difference is not difference in laws, but difference in attitude toward guns. Guns in Canada are used for sport, guns in the USA are almost a religion. Gun use in the USA will not change until we change our attitude about guns. Passing new gun laws and calling gun owners stupid will not change attitudes. Blaming George Bush won't work either. The effect of all the name calling and blame, only makes gun lovers and the NRA dig in their heels and become more determined to prevent any changes in attitude and laws. I'm not a gun owner nor a gun lover and I would like to see gun owners be licensed. But, the sanctimonious I know what's best for you approach taken by the left pisses me off. I too become a resistor to gun control efforts. Try a different approach, we are trying to change attitudes, not laws.

sharonalc's picture
sharonalc 12 years 20 weeks ago

The discussion of gun control connects with, in many ways, other issues that come up in our society and points to the fundemental difference between progressives and conservatives. Progressives want to move ahead and conservatives want to pull us back. We get the assault weapons ban and we say--ok, it's not enough but it's a start. Let's move on. They drag us back so that we are having to fight the same fight over and over again. Another example is that we achieved the right for women to have choice over their own bodies with regards to pregnancy and still, almost 40 years later, are still fighting that fight. Health care? We have the beginnings, so let's move on to even greater benefit. No, we are pulled back. There are so many issues like this. We want to build on whatever progress is made, they want to pull us back. In fact, we are often caught entirely unprepared to re-visit an issue we thought was done. We need to learn a valuable lesson from the consistency of their m.o. We cannot be complacent about any victory in progress that we gain. We cannot say--well, that's finished, let's move on to the next challenge-- without also constantly reiterating the importance of the earlier victory.

As a result of the tragedy in Arizona this past week, we once again will have discussions about weapons and the mentally ill. Undoubtedly, there will be some victory in dealing with it and it will be way too small. But, we have to take whatever tiny progress we make and hammer home over and over its importance instead of just moving on to the next challenge as we would be inlcined to do.

Pretzelogic in Philly PA's picture
Pretzelogic in ... 12 years 20 weeks ago

Chris Rock had it right!

Forget gun control - we need "bullet control" - tax ammunition enough that each bullet costs $5,000, and, as Rock said "we'll have no more innocent bystanders!"

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"If you wonder why and when giant corporations got the power to reign supreme over us, here’s the story."
Jim Hightower, national radio commentator and author of Swim Against the Current
From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While
From Cracking the Code:
"No one communicates more thoughtfully or effectively on the radio airwaves than Thom Hartmann. He gets inside the arguments and helps people to think them through—to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."
to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."