Negligent gun laws a factor in shooting

By: Brooklyn Middleton / Staff Writer

The complexities of the Tucson, Ariz. massacre committed by Jared Loughner in an attempt to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has created a plethora of debates. The discussion about the role of venomous political rhetoric and the poignant discussions about the challenges of mental illnesses as well as the often inaccessible care that is direly necessary are, indeed, important points.
However, the factual point that transcends speculation and intellectual debate is this: it is not a mere tragic coincidence that a massacre that left six people dead and 13 others wounded was in a state that has careless and negligent gun laws.
A brief look into Loughner’s behavioral history shows a spiral into what appears to be insanity. Former teachers and friends have described Loughner as mentally disturbed and deranged.  Paranoid thoughts, the seemingly total inability to differentiate reality and fantasy and instances of disruptive behavior paint the picture of a mentally ill young man who is incapable of taking responsibility for his vile actions.
I think it is important not to be so blindsided by the rage and sadness we feel collectively, that we ignore the fact that incompetent, reckless gun laws largely contributed to this tragedy.
It would be shortsighted not to examine factors that could contribute to something like this happening again. According to  ABC News, Loughner legally purchased the gun after passing an instant background check at Sportman’s Warehouse. The fact that there are instantaneous background checks for potential purchasers of guns would be laughable if it wasn’t so terrifying.  Whether a more thorough look into Loughner’s past would have prevented this tragedy is relevant, as it serves as an example of the limitations of these background checks.
Furthermore, the lack of specificity of who is barred from buying guns holds potentially harmful ramifications. According to the New Republic, “Federal law prohibits the sale or transfer of guns to several categories of people, including felons, illegal immigrants, and drug abusers.”  These categories are simply too vague and undiscerning.
According to The Wall Street Journal, it is federally illegal to sell guns to any person “declared mentally unfit.”  To be deemed mentally unfit seems to be quite an ordeal that includes a court’s decision. The New Republic articulately states a critical view, “Gun lobbyists are correct when they note that the vast majority of gun owners do not kill. Likewise, mental health professionals are correct when they note that the vast majority of unstable people do not kill either. The combination of these two types of people, however, can be lethal.”
Expounding on the definition of “mentally ill” in regard to gun ownership is a pivotal part of the process to make citizens safer from gun violence. Arizona’s gun laws are not just liberal; they create an environment that is a downright free for all for potential gun violence.
I came across a headline by The Guardian that read, “Jared Lee Loughner: What drove him to kill?” After a brief look into his behavioral history, the question should not be what made Loughner commit murder.  The question should be: What wildly inappropriate laws allowed a mentally disturbed man to legally purchase a gun that led to this tragic massacre?

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