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Stop the language of violence

January 18, 2011
By Richard Clark

ECANABA - 40 year old Representative Gabrielle Gifford was gunned down at a meet-n-greet near a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. Ms. Gifford was shot in the head and struggles in a hospital.

Forgotten are the others who were wounded and killed. A 9 year old girl who went to see Ms. Gifford because of her interest in government service was killed by the gunman. Born on 9/11 she was killed by a home grown murderer.

A 30 year old Congressional worker was also killed, along with a federal judge, a retired secretary, a homemaker and a retired construction worker.

Article Photos

Richard Clark

13 people were wounded by the gunman. A couple Congressional aides, several veterans, including a retired Marine, and a Vietnam veteran.

The carnage in Tucson was possible because the shooter used a semiautomatic pistol. The high capacity magazine of this particular pistol can hold a whole lot of firepower without the need to reload. This kind of assault was not possible when the Second Amendment was ratified.

Immediately following the Tucson tragedy gun control advocates called for more control and Dick Armey, who helped launch the Tea Party, said the full brunt of blame should be on the shooter. Some members of Congress wanted to erect bulletproof Plexiglas between them and the public. A couple of members said they would begin to carry guns.

Mr. Armey was correct. The shooter is completely responsible for his actions. According to reports the shooter is not someone you could call balanced. Telling these kinds of folks that they will be held responsible is pretty much useless. Remember Squeaky Fromme who tried to kill Gerald Ford or John Hinckley who tried to kill Ronald Reagan. They didn't have the firepower the Tucson shooter possessed and they weren't worried about whether they would be responsible or not.

The Supreme Court has upheld the right of people to carry arms. The question remains about what can we do to prevent Tucson tragedies. It would be nice if Second Amendment advocates with firearm expertise would join in a discussion of how to prevent Tucson madness. Just telling officials to enforce existing gun laws is not enough.

Congress could bring it's formidable powers of investigation to unearth ways to prevent this unnecessary loss of life. Congress may need to listen to people in the social sciences and not limit its source of information to lobbyists.

Part of the discussion has been to blame the Tucson tragedy on politicians who have used incendiary language promoting their political agenda, notably Former Governor Because She Quit Sarah Palin. Those critics are incorrect in this instance. The Tucson shooter was not watching Ms. Palin's ad targeting Democrats. It is understandable that critics may think Ms. Palin's motives are questionable since she has exhorted her follower not to retreat but to reload.

Although Mr. Army may be correct that the shooter is responsible he is not without a tinge of guilt. It was Mr. Armey's group that warned Democrats in August of 2009 that they would have a hot summer at town hall meetings.

After Mr. Armey's threat crowds gathered at Congressional offices screaming and gesturing at staff. Implied physical threats were apparent. I observed local staff of Congressman Stupak's office receive visitors whose body language and approach said "bully."

At some meeting in the West participants took guns supposedly to express their Second Amendment Rights.

Those of us who lived the assassinations of two Kennedys, Martin Luther King, the Oklahoma City bombing and the attempted murders of presidents Ford and Reagan are not amused by people using the language of violence. Even before Tucson images of aggression and violence were used to bullied opponents.

What is really needed is the kind of leadership that leads by example. It will not say "reload" or that town halls will be "hot." It should cause us "to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds - President Barack Obama."


EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at



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