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Pointing the finger

© Verbalobe

I am not going to blame Sarah Palin for the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, and I support the second amendment. But the cutsie/violent rhetoric being used by the right against their opponents has got to stop. It is becoming terrorism.



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    Anwar al-Awlaki (American Citizen) is on President Obama’s hit list. Al-Awlaki inspired Hasan to take out the soldiers at Fort Hood. Al-Awlaki is in hiding in Yemen. Now if Al-Awlaki is murdered, who is the first person you will think of? The person who put him on the hit list.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 6:23 am | Permalink
  2. Morgan Eubanks wrote:

    I blame Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and Sharon Angle. If a Detroit Muslim put a map on the internet with crosshairs on 20 polititions and then one of them got shot, where would he be sitting right now? Just asking…

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink
  3. Mad Hatter wrote:

    Whether the crazy talk from Limbaugh, Fox News, etc. is what caused this violence or not, how do we stop the crazy talk and maintain our First Amendment?

    I mean impressionable kids are coming home from school everyday and then watching Beck spout, with his inane proofs, some really looney stuff. I think that even if I watched him or listened to Limbaugh every day, I’d be batshit crazy too.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink
  4. No u wrote:

    Every campaign for every election has a list of seats, that they feel are either vunerable or key seats. Making a hit list of these seats is nothing knew and has been done forever, by all parties. Palin calling it a hit list does nothing and if it does, it is not her fault for calling it that, but ignorant americans for taking it in a mafia tone.

    The problem is, kinda like with the whole political system right now, the sides are too radical on either side. Tea Party is extreme to one side, and obama(supposedly) is extreme to the other side and radicals always bring out more reaction out of people. It needs to end, we need more center…sadly I believe the congresswoman was more center…

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink
  5. ebdoug wrote:

    I asked my nearly ten year old grandson who Glenn Beck was. He did not know. I gave a big sigh for the 30% of families who don’t watch Fox News. My grandson is untouched by the vitriol.

    And as far as stopping the crazy media, you don’t listen. You don’t let your children listen. You just say “no” to the advertisers. In the 1980s, I was with my friend driving down the coast of California, a long way from the east coast. He put limbaugh on. “Your choice:turn him off or let me out of the car, I’ll walk.” When I worked at H&R Block, my boss had him on. “Turn him off or find someone else to do my job.” She turned him off and kept him off. None of us has to allow any of that in our lives.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink
  6. Tebbe wrote:

    The same way you cannot yell Fire in a crowded theatre; there should be some responsibility for your words when the vitriol becomes common speech and people start to die because of it. I hope the vast majority of Americans both educated and illiterate; Progressive to Neo-Cons and Tea Party people see this as a actionable dilemma. (That means something we can change, to all you illiterate Tea Party folks.)

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  7. Laurie wrote:

    TEBBE… using the term “illiterate Tea Party folks” IS vitriol, which you so eloquently railed against, up until that point.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  8. Steve wrote:

    I have been perusing this site for quite some time, quietly reading the comments and comics that are tastefully done and respectfully debated for over the last two years. This is my first time posting here but I’ve wanted to for quite some time as I feel this is one of the few websites out there that really just keeps it plain and simple. Alright enough praise, on to the comic and topic that finally brought me from a browser to a commenter.

    Doug has a good point, turn the tables around and switch the characters involved and this would be nothing short of a country-wide uproar. It’s wasn’t just the list she (Palin) had made, it was the way she did it. By using the symbol of the cross-hair, she effectively solidified an association of “Rep. Giffords—guns—thinks differently than I—needs to be defeated.” Of course I’m speculating but that really is not a far philosophical leap for someone to make. How sad is it that we have actually got to this point? I mean, you watch the news and see these foreign countries having their diplomats assassinated or some kind of political overthrow and I can remember thinking, “geez, it would suck to live in a country like that.” But look where we are now? Who’s to say that this isn’t the first of a long string of politically motivated violence, fear and upheaval completely orchestrated by the ones in power. It just so happens the Republicans are poised to have all the chips in their favor these days but I could foresee this happening each time there’s a power shift of this magnitude.

    You know, when President Obama was elected, I remember saying to myself that I was happy this many people are finally interested in politics. At the time, just a wee 2 years ago, everyone had an opinion and it was fantastic. There were differences of opinions and people were semi-keeping up with the topics that were politically relevant. Even if their view was different from mine, at least it was nice to see so many people finally having a view as opposed to blatant “Who gives a shit about politics.” Though now, I feel everyone having a view might be a bad thing; a view or an opinion can be changed. It can be twisted by rhetoric, influenced by money or manipulated by media. At least when someone doesn’t give a shit, it means there’s an absence of opinion, making it, by default, impossible to change. I truly worry for this country and at my age, I still (knock on wood) have a very very long time left in it. If this is what I have to look forward to, if this is going to be standard operating procedure for every election from here on out, I really might want to consider counting my losses and jumping ship to another country. I truly doubt this is the land of free and home of the brave that I heard so much about in school. For the poster with the Grandchild, I really wish I could have seen the world (America) in it’s hay day as you have experienced it. I’m not naive enough to think that there wasn’t this kind of stuff going on back then, but I’d like to think it was less prevalent and really was an overall “better time” as I hear so often when people reminisce. I’ve grown up in this technological era but I feel as though I deserve to have been born in an earlier generation. I don’t think like my peers nor do I act like them and I doubt that’s a bad thing.

    I just cannot see how the world keeps on turning a blind eye on these obvious hypocrisies that this website keeps bringing up. If I can spot them this glaringly at my age, having just recently lost my voting virginity in 2008, how do more people not notice these things?

    Sorry for the long diary-esque journal entry, but I figure my first post should be worthwhile and heartfelt. Thanks for the great work Iron Knee.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  9. Steve wrote:


    “I hope the vast majority of Americans both educated and illiterate; Progressive to Neo-Cons and Tea Party people see this as a actionable dilemma…”

    Is not the same as “illiterate Tea Party folks…”

    Don’t get so defensive.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  10. Laurie wrote:

    Perhaps you have misinterpreted my comment Steve.

    I was in total agreement with TEBBE, up until he/she used the phrase “to all you illiterate Tea Party folks”.
    It was unnecessary & is the very thing the entire comment took to task prior to TEBBE’s parenthesis.

    Mine was not a defensive response, just an observation.
    How can we hope to end it if we don’t even see it for what it is?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink
  11. Steve wrote:

    Very good point, I apologize and did not see his last statement.

    True as well is your point on seeing where both sides are almost bogged down so much with parroting talking points that it’s impossible to swim out from under it.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  12. Dan wrote:

    NO U,
    Can you give an example where Obama is extreme and Giffords is center?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink
  13. Dan wrote:

    NO U,
    The use of cross-hairs is campaigns may be common, but perhaps it is an asinine practice that ought to stop. There is quite enough tribalism in politics that we don’t need military metaphors.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink
  14. No u wrote:

    I said supposedly for Obama’s extreme, but thats what some call it. I saw Giffords center in an article somewhere after the shooting, my history got wiped though, so finding it would be tough 🙁

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  15. Iron Knee wrote:

    Giffords is one of the blue dog Democrats, so that self identifies her as a centrist/moderate.

    Good discussion. How do we protect the 1st amendment, while stopping hate speech?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  16. starluna wrote:

    Giffords was more center-right than center. She’s a big supporter or “gun rights” and does support strict application of immigration laws (including the fence). But she is also a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and supported the health care reform law.

    This appears to have all of the characteristics of a politically motivated attack (aka terrorism). However, the reports about the gunman that I’ve seen indicate that he was mentally unstable. While there is some speculation that there was an older accomplice, it is too early to come to conclusions about the motivations of the kid that did this (or any accomplice who may have gotten this kid to do this).

    While I would love to be able to point to Palin et al for there rhetoric in paving the way to a tragedy like this, until we know more it is difficult to draw any more conclusion than this is the result of easy access to guns. Which is something that Giffords supported (there’s some irony for you).

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  17. starluna wrote:

    Wow, grammar mistakes up the wazoo. I need to do a better job of proofreading. Sorry about that.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink
  18. starluna wrote:

    Oh, and she is also a supporter of the DREAM Act.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  19. ebdoug wrote:

    Steve: Great post. We come to this site to “restore sanity”

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  20. Laurie wrote:

    It’s quite all right Steve.

    I remember once Starluna called me out for using the word “sheeple” in one of my comments….
    She ((assumes gender, apologies if incorrect)) was quite correct in pointing out that my name calling served no positive purpose & I learned a great deal from her willingness to assert herself in a reasonable, civil manner. Thanks for that, Starluna!

    Had I not learned & continued to refer to any human as less than worthy of my respect, then shame on me.

    If every person, regardless of their political or religious affiliations, would take responsibility for their own words & actions we could affect the global society in a significant manner…. but then, I’ve always been a dreamer. Hey… it could happen… right?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  21. Bard wrote:

    How do we stop the insanity and keep free speech?

    Easy, we do a better job with gun control. Everything I’ve heard about this kid was that he was mentally off. If the Army won’t take you in 2007, you probably shouldn’t be able to get your hands on a gun.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
  22. Laurie wrote:

    Now is your chance to shine Sarah…
    Regardless of whether or not you are in anyway responsible, this is an opportunity to put an end to the violent rhetoric which is so rampant in today’s politics & religion.
    You have the ear & respect of many people, some of which are less than capable of making rational decisions.
    If you were to publicly respond with disdain to the use of violence as well as disrespectful language in ANY situation, it could (and I believe would) make a difference for the better… not just in this country, but perhaps the world over.
    You need to say that it will no longer be part of your dialogue, nor will it be tolerated from anyone associated with you or speaking on your behalf. That whatever others say & do, you will not be part of the continuation of this type of behavior.

    It may be that this is part of your destiny… to heal rather than divide.
    Use your stage wisely & for the betterment of ALL humanity & you cannot go wrong.
    My best wishes for a future of peace & respect for all.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  23. Laurie wrote:

    This applies to ALL of us….

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  24. Iron Knee: Through mockery.

    I’m not kidding about that. Hate speech can not survive being laughed at: that’s why satire has been effective for for changing rhetorical practices for centuries.

    The other best practice–shaming the hate speech–worked elsewhen (MLK was brilliant at this technique–Letter From Birmingham Jail, for instance). But shame hasn’t worked, or so it seems.

    One thing that doesn’t work is education. Education can prevent someone from buying into the messages of hate speech, but if someone’s already bought the message, education (and reasoned discourse) doesn’t have the pathetic power to force the user of the hate-laden rhetoric to see if for what it is. (Pathetic here is derived from Pathos: the appeal to emotions.)

    So, how do we stop the hate. Laugh at it. Heartily. Fearlessly. Laugh. One thing that hate can’t stand, and that’s not being taken seriously.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
  25. Laurie wrote:

    That’s why we love The Daily Show then.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink
  26. starluna wrote:

    Thought Dancer – I like that.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  27. Guy wrote:

    First, this was terrible. My heart goes out to the Giffords family. I hope she makes it through and has the ability to lead a normal life with little or no health problems as a result of the lunacy acted upon her by this madman.

    I will try not to spread the vitriol, except to lunatics like the one who shot Giffords, and all the other people at that rally. His is a complete ******* ******* and a lousy piece of ****. I hope he rots in hell.

    Now, that being said I am a conservative. I don’t know Giffords, I don’t know her policies, but that doesn’t matter. No one deserves to get shot. Not even Senator. . . oops, sorry, I said I would be nice.

    I hear lots of people saying how Beck and Limbaugh are always wrong and they spit all this vitriol and incite violence. Well, that begs three questions;

    First, aren’t Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and Co. almost always correct? I hear people spewing hate towards these bastions of freedom, but no one can ever point out where they are wrong. Maybe on a small minor point (Coulter stated that Canada sent soldiers to Vietnam.), a simple stupid mistake (Palin saying that NK is our friend.) or attacking the sponsors (Beck’s sponsor Goldline was attacked for unfair business practices.) But NOT ONCE have I heard anyone state how these people are wrong on the major policy points.

    Second, there was plenty of vitriol spit at Bush. And plenty more still being spit at the Republicans today. So, don’t criticize the right wing pundits for there vitriol, when they are correct in the first place.

    And third, the only violence being incited is from the left. Ever heard of Francis Fox Piven? This lady is crying out for the poor to rise up violently against the rich.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink
  28. Iron Knee wrote:

    Guy, you crack me up! Do you actually believe the silly propaganda you spew? You are (perhaps unintentionally) hilarious! Keep up the good work, I needed a good laugh.

    Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity almost always correct? ROTFLMAO!!

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink
  29. Michael wrote:

    I shouldn’t feed the troll, but I can’t help it…

    “First, aren’t Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and Co. almost always correct?” No. Here’s a simple example: Just the other day, IK posted a link explaining how Obamacare is helping small companies to offer health insurance that they couldn’t afford before. Now compare that with these carefully selected quotes on Glenn Beck’s article about how Obamacare will force small companies to stop offering any insurance or close entirely.

    “Second, there was plenty of vitriol spit at Bush.” Like what, calling him an idiot or fascist? (I’m not calling him either, but trying to figure out what this “vitriol” you refer to was.) Please show me ONE example of a left-wing pundit or politician (i.e., not some anonymous Internet troll) marking his picture with crosshairs or making thinly veiled attempts to intimidate his supporters.

    “And third, the only violence being incited is from the left.” WTF?!? Do the names Joseph Stack, Ted Kaczynski, Scott Roeder, Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh, and Terry Nichols sound familiar? All anti-government or anarchist or anti-abortion or anti-gays. I believe that qualifies them as being from the right wing. These are people with an actual body count, and the best you can come up with is an academic who works to organize the poor to form unions and vote? Seriously?

    I really hate playing the “Who’s worse: right or left?” game. First, the classification of right vs. left is kind of BS anyways. However, I am sick and tired of the false equivalence of “vitriol.” The suggestion that the name calling from lefties (e.g., from Olbermann, Maddow, Stewart) is somehow just as bad as what comes from the right is laughable. Show me one quote of any of those people saying “we need to execute” someone “in order to physically intimidate” conservatives, similar to Ann Coulter’s quote.

    While it would be nice if everyone spoke politely when talking about politics, that’s just not feasible. The real problem is violent rhetoric and symbolism (even if it is intended solely as rhetoric) which needs to stop immediately. But the thing is, I just don’t see any of that coming from those who are typically classified as mainstream lefties.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
  30. Morgan Eubanks wrote:

    Yeah! What Michael said!

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 5:18 am | Permalink
  31. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Alright, alright steady now.. There are right wing nut jobs and left wing lunes out there everywhere. They are just a small percentage of the right and left fringes, which makes them a miniscule percentage of the whole. Unfortunately, when they act out it usually grabs all the headlines and starts a finger pointing session (never let a good tragedy go to waste, politics 101), so I say enough. I have seen headlines calling him a far left lune and right wing hitman, really. IMO he is a mentally unstable loner who acted out. Do we want to lump the Army doc, who was antiwar, in with the far left because he killed 13 Soldiers. I think not, despite the temptation. If anyone could have prevented this we should look at ourselves. Did anyone close to him notice unusual behavior, reports indicate yes. Did anyone who noticed said behavior do anything, no because we’re too afraid of lawsuits and being called medlers. As to 2nd amendment rights, IMO law enforcement failed to properly weight his record and issued him a permit for a weapon (he had past run ins with the law). So there was a whole bunch of systemic failures that allowed this guy to act out. Lets all take Thought Dancer’s advice and laugh at hate speech (wasn’t that in a old star trek episode?), but look at and discuss what awareness is needed to possibly prevent similar incidences.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink
  32. starluna wrote:

    I agree with PatriotSgt that there are a whole lot of cracks that this kids apparently fell through. Unfortunately in Arizona, there isn’t much in the way of a safety net, and so there were no real cracks in the system to begin with.

    In terms of access to guns (which so far the media seems to be largely ignoring), there is technically no problem here. Arizona has the weakest gun control laws in the country. There is no waiting period and they allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit. The only guns that are deemed illegal are certain long barrel automatics and shotguns that have been modified to be silent or long barreled shotguns that have been modified to be automatic. Since Loughner had never been convicted of any crime of importance, and because he has no record of being admitted or treated for mental health problems (not that there is much in the way of available services), his purchase of the gun was absolutely above board. At least within Arizona’s system.

    I do think, however, that we cannot ignore the role of hate-filled and violent language in our political discourse in creating an atmosphere that supports this kind of behavior. The rhetoric in Arizona in particular is particularly intense, especially on immigrant issues. Friends of mine who work on immigrant issues are very afraid to go to Arizona, and seeing some of the articles on the front pages of local newspapers, I can’t really blame them.

    From what I’ve read, this kid saw himself as some kind of rhetorical analyst who was upset that no one is doing anything about whatever bad things he sees happening. His reported rambling, incoherent diatribes against the government don’t strike me as much different than what I’ve heard the few times I’ve seen Glenn Beck. The difference is he acted on the literal meanings of the words. I don’t doubt that there are others like him.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  33. starluna wrote:

    Actually, Gail Collins of the NYT did write about the easy access to guns in Arizona.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink
  34. Michael wrote:

    Patriotsgt, I can see where you’re coming from, but I have a different take on it. Yes, there are violent crazies on all parts of the political spectrum, and there’s nothing we can do about that. What we can do something about is the culture of violence being put forth by the mainstream politicians and pundits.

    We can call out Bill O’Reilly for saying repeatedly that Dr. George Tiller should be “taken out.” We should call out Michelle Bachman for her calls for an “armed and dangerous” populace ready for a violent stand against the government. We should lambast Sharon Angle for her calls for “2nd Amendment remedies” if she loses (which she did). These are not extremists. They are mainstream figures with large audiences and considerable influence. Please show me an example of Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, Rachel Maddow or any other liberal figure putting an opponent’s picture on a target at a firing range. As much as I hate the left vs. right crap, the overwhelming majority of violent imagery comes from the right, generally with ties to Fox News. It doesn’t have to be that way. Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch can take responsibility and tell their network that this imagery is not acceptable. But that would be bad for ratings, so it’s not going to happen.

    You made another comment that caught my eye: “As to 2nd amendment rights, IMO law enforcement failed to properly weight his record and issued him a permit for a weapon.” This leads directly to a policy issue. Groups like the NRA fight tooth-and-nail against ANY regulation regarding firearms. But even more to the point, this becomes a budget issue. When you are constantly trying for smaller government and spending cuts, that includes cutting the budgets of groups that do background checks and ensure gun dealers are complying with existing laws. Given the complex structure of government funding, it is quite feasible that cutting the federal budget can lead to funding cuts for local regulators.

    So you (speaking of the right figuratively…I’m not saying you specifically hold these views) can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that all government is bad and should be cut, while simultaneously blaming law enforcement for not enforcing gun control laws adequately. Because chances are, law enforcement simply lacked the time and/or money to do so.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink
  35. Iron Knee wrote:

    Paul Krugman has a well reasoned article about the difference between vitriol on the right and the left.

    Even so, there are examples from the left:

    “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl.”

    I want the violent rhetoric to stop, no matter which side it comes from.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  36. PatriotSTG. Yes, there was. And that episode was about racism and, to a lesser extent, hate speech. The original Star Trek was far more political commentary than most people now acknowledge. Some of that commentary was prevented by the execs, but not all of it. And often, the commentary was solid.

    (I’m still mainly at TNG fan more, but the original ST had real gems.)

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  37. Mad Hatter wrote:

    Michael’s comment helped crystalize some of my thinking on all of the crazy talk out there. Back in the 60s and 70s (pre-Reagan), there were far fewer media outlets and it seems to me that, in addition to some regulatory restrictions during this period, there was more self-regulation (self-censorship?) by those that controlled the media outlets. The self-regulation may have been defensive in nature or it could simply be that those in charge then simply had more integrity than some do now. We still had plenty of crazy talk then but it rarely got any further than the street corner or the local rag.

    After Reagan emasculated the FCC and with the explosion of new media outlets with our technological improvements, I think we’ve lost the gates and gatekeepers in the media outlets that used to filter out the crazy talk

    I’m not sure that shaming them or shouting them down with reason will work. I’m thinking that our only hope is that some how the major corporations that sponsor the media outlets will begin monitoring the content of the outlets that they are supporting and will simply stop financing this crap. This will return it to the gutter where it belongs.

    I know….it’s not comforting to think that we must rely on the integrity of major corporations but corporations are comprised of people like you and me. I remember when I worked for a major corporation that individuals could effect change from within…..

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  38. ebdoug wrote:

    Let’s not forget Reagan cutting back care to the mentally ill. Keeping the mentally ill on the streets. Turning loose the mentally ill from institutes. I believe from what I’ve read, a lot of the homeless can’t be housed because they are mentally ill. A lot of irreversible brain frying went on during the Vietnam war.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  39. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Michael – thanks for the thoughtful rebuttal. I’d have to say there is merit to your assertion on mainstream politicians and pundits. The greatest volume seems to eminate from the right currently.
    I do remember rallies when Bush was president though, with marchers holding pictures of Bush with a bullet hole in his forehead. Also, signs of “we support our troops when they shoot their officers”, during a period when it came more from the left.

    IK is right, even our current president has occasionally fed into the rhetoric. We all need to look more closely at the message we are sending.

    On the other point about smaller/bigger Gov. I’d have to say I don’t quite agree. I would agree that perhaps more training is needed, more supervision and power from bosses. The person who checked his record didn’t need 5 assistants to help, they needed to recognize the potential and place his application in the “closer look” pile. No additonal money needed IMO just people doing a better job. (realizing I oversimplified the situation, I do understand your point)

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  40. Michael wrote:

    “I do remember rallies when Bush was president though, with marchers holding pictures of Bush with a bullet hole in his forehead.” Again, I’m restricting my argument to mainstream politicians and pundits who should be held to a higher level of accountability. And I agree with both you and IK that it needs to stop, regardless of which part of the spectrum they come from.

    Regarding the person checking Loughner’s record, it depends on a number of facts that I just don’t know. That person may need 5 assistants if they’ve got 100 forms to review every day. Is reviewing these applications that person’s only duty? Or is it one of many tasks, most of which are more interesting than processing paperwork? What are the person’s qualifications? Do they have a degree in psychology or criminal justice? Or is it somebody with only a high school diploma? Or is it a police officer who really can’t stand paperwork and just wants to be out busting bad guys?

    The thing about security screening work (whether it’s processing paperwork or airport security work) is that it is nearly impossible to do correctly. Studies have repeatedly shown that the human brain does not handle this type of work well. That is, when a real threat is a very rare occurrence, screeners tend to be dismissive. That’s why you hear so many stories of weapons getting past TSA screeners. Processing paperwork is no different. It is boring, repetitive work. The incentives that are in place simply encourage putting in the minimal amount of effort to tolerate the drudgery. In many cases, the most effective way to counteract this tendency is with redundancy. Sure, it sounds wasteful to have 3 people reviewing every application for a gun permit, but it’s more likely to identify potential realistic threats.

    To go back to the funding issue, budgets are allocated in masses, not as line items. Sure, the budget request might have a line item listing, but departments get a lump sum. Considering how many police departments are facing SEVERE budget cuts right now, which members of the department are likely to get laid off? The ones diligently reviewing gun permit applications or the ones running radar to bring in speeding ticket revenue?

    In my experience, the people who are often first to go are the ones doing the thankless, no-glory, preventive work that has no calculable benefit.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  41. starluna wrote:

    Both Michael and PatriotSgt are missing the point as it applies to this particular case in terms of access to guns:

    There is virtually no restriction on the access to guns in Arizona. No waiting period. It’s an open carry state and allows carrying concealed weapons without a permit. The Brady Campaign rated Arizona 2 (out of 100) in their control of access to weapons (

    You can’t complain about the size of the bureaucracy for handling gun permits (whether it is too big or too small) when there is no bureaucracy in place.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  42. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Starluna – you are absolutely correct.
    But if we can’t blame gov’t the only people left are… well.. those actually responsible. Persons close to him who saw and understood the potential threat and did nothing.

    Naw, forget it, personal responsibility is a concept that’ll just never catch on. 🙂

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink
  43. starluna wrote:

    Actually, you can blame the government. The legislature that refuses to, or had repealed, sensible gun control measures that may have prevented this tragedy. You can even blame the Congress for not renewing even the most minimum of gun control laws when they had the chance. But you can’t blame a bureaucracy that doesn’t exist.

    The concept of personal responsibility in a case where the individual may have been mentally unstable is, in my view, irrelevant. If this kid was surrounded by people who embraced a paranoid anti-government worldview, which is their right in this country, then personal responsibility has even less meaning.

    This is why we need a government that puts in place reasonable restrictions on access to guns. Which Arizona doesn’t have. Because most of it’s legislative and executive leaders at the state and federal levels (Giffords among them) don’t believe in restricting access to guns.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink
  44. Sammy wrote:

    Hahahaha! Hannity is almost always correct? Hannity once said 2009 was the coldest year in recorded history. That one whopper of a lie alone removes him from any “correct” list even if he is otherwise 100% on the mark.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  45. Dan Weston wrote:

    How’s this for irony? The paid ad on the right side of this post is for “Front Sight Firearms Training Institute”

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink