Thursday, January 13, 2011

What happened in Tucson Saturday?

The tragic shooting at the Safeway in Tucson is now widely known. Now the background is just beginning to make it into the news. Today the news begins to present a description of Jared Loughner who was and is a very disturbed individual. But any description of Loughner should also be considered in the context of America's political climate.

CNN today describes Jared Loughner's behavior leading up to the shooting in an article entitled "Loughner's dad feared he was 'out of control,' neighbor says."
Tucson, Arizona (CNN) -- The father of Arizona massacre suspect Jared Lee Loughner had a front-yard argument with his son the morning of the killings and had told a neighbor the 22-year-old was "out of control," according to neighbors and investigators.

The shaven-headed youth had quit a community college in October after being suspended and had been warned not to come back without a mental health evaluation. Postings attributed to Loughner on websites including MySpace and YouTube show "classic signs of psychosis," one expert told CNN.

Loughner had complained for years about U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- the apparent target of Saturday's bloodbath, according to a law enforcement official.


The morning of the shooting, he had argued with his father, Randy Loughner, in the front yard of their Tucson home, Richard Kastigar, the head of the Pima County Sheriff's Department's investigations bureau, told CNN's "John King USA." The younger Loughner was in the front yard with a bag, possibly a backpack, when his father asked him what he was doing with it, Kastigar said.

"Jared mumbled something back to his dad, and his dad said he didn't understand what was said. It was unintelligible," Kastigar said. "And then Jared left. The father followed. The father got in his vehicle and tried to locate his son and followed the direction that he went and he could not locate his son."

Randy Loughner thought his son "went into the desert some place," Kastigar said. But by Saturday afternoon, he and his wife returned home to find police waiting for them, neighbor Stephen Woods said.

"His hand went on his head. He seemed very upset. His wife was crying. I assume that's when they told him," Woods said. Randy Loughner "was just holding his head, saying, 'No. No.' "


Searches of their home after the killings turned up a 2007 letter from Giffords, thanking Jared Loughner for attending a 2007 event similar to Saturday's. An envelop in the same strongbox was scrawled with phrases like "die bitch" and "assassination plans have been made," Kastigar said.

A law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity told CNN Loughner asked Giffords a question at the 2007 event and was unhappy with her response.

"He never let it go," the source said. "It kept festering."

Online, Loughner ranted about poor grammar, illiteracy and "mind control" and argued that space shuttle missions were faked and that people could make their own currency.

"In conclusion, reading the second United States constitution I can't trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar," he wrote in one piece posted to YouTube. "No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver! No! I won't trust in God!"

Alan Lipman, director of the Center of the Study of Violence at Georgetown University, said the postings show "classic signs of psychosis."

"People were looking for whether he was on the left or the right. He was neither," Lipman told CNN. "He was incoherent. Those were signs, classic signs you'd see in a psychiatric unit of formal thought disorder."

And forensic psychologist Kathy Seifert called the postings "absolutely psychotic." Loughner should have been evaluated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism or other mental illnesses, she said.
The article continues to discuss Loughner's behavior in school and the reason why he was barred from Pima County College. It is clear that he was getting mentally worse over recent years.

In a separate article CNN states Alleged Loughner postings paint disturbing picture. This describes Loughners writings online.
(CNN) -- NASA has never flown a manned space shuttle mission.

There was no Mars rover.

People can make their own currency.

From February 2009 through September 2010, someone using the name "Erad3" made these and a series of other assertions -- unusual at best, disturbed at worst -- on the website

Erad3, according to site co-owner Mark Allin, was almost certainly Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old man accused of killing six people and injuring 14 others last weekend, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

The site, Allin said, focuses on "alternative news" and information "not covered by the mainstream media." Allin noted that all 130 messages from Erad3 were posted from Loughner's hometown of Tucson, and many of them bear a striking resemblance to postings made by Loughner on the popular social media site YouTube.

Investigators are examining the postings on Allin's site, according to a law enforcement source.

The messages from Erad3 -- riddled with grammatical errors -- often became the object of ridicule, scorn or sympathy from other contributors.

"The ranting about proof, (your) inability to make a coherent sentence gives you away red handed," one person wrote. "It won't be long (until) you have been banned once again!"

"You sound absolutely bonkers," added another.

"I think you're frankly schizophrenic," said a third. "That's not an amateur opinion and not intended as an uninformed or insulting. ... You clearly make no sense and are unable to communicate. I really do care. Seek help before you hurt yourself or others or start taking your medications again, please."

Erad3 replied with a series of unrelated arguments before concluding with a brief expression of thanks for the writer's concern.

None of Erad3's postings mentions Giffords or a desire for violence, unlike language used in documents found in Loughner's residence. They do, however, appear to reflect a strong urge to break free of any constraints -- real or imagined -- imposed by government officials.
So it is quite clear that Jared Loughner was known to be a very disturbed individual. What happens when a person this disturbed in surrounded by images of violence and threats? Consider the language that has been spread through the media recently. Congressman John Dingell lists just a very few statements that have been widely publicized:
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), by contrast, ran through a litany of now-infamous statements by high-profile politicians, leaving blank the names of people and issues under threat.

"Let me read some statements that I have seen to be pretty awful," he said on Wednesday.

Here they are in order:

* Quoting Sharron Angle: "People are looking towards the second amendment remedies and saying my goodness, what can we do to turn our country around."

* Angle again: "The first thing we need to do is take out blank." The exact quote: "The first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."

* Quoting Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): "I want people in blank armed and dangerous on this issue [of the energy tax] because we need to fight back."

* Quoting Glenn Beck: "I want to kill blank with a shovel." The exact quote: "I want to kill Charlie Rangel with a shovel."

* Beck again: "Every night I get down on my knees and pray blank will burst into flames." The exact quote: "Every night I get down on my knees and pray Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames."

* Quoting Texas GOP candidate Stephen Broden: ''Our nation was founded on violence. I don't think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.'­­­­­' The exact quote: ''Our nation was founded on violence. The option is on the table. I don't think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.'­­­­­'

* Quoting Sarah Palin: "Don't retreat, reload."

* Quoting would-be Alan West chief of staff Joyce Kaufman: "If ballots don't work, bullets will."
So take a very disturbed individual whose father states was out of control and place him in a state with the most lenient gun laws in the nation.
On November 30, Jared Lee Loughner went to a Sportman's Warehouse in Tuscon, Ariz., and purchased a Glock 19 semiautomatic weapon, after passing an instant background check.

He allegedly used that weapon in the January 8 shooting rampage that killed at least six people and wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 13 others in Tuscon.

Arizona's gun laws, among the most lenient in the country, allowed Loughner to conceal and carry his firearm without a permit, explains Washington Post reporter James Grimaldi. Grimaldi, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, wrote a piece on Sunday about Arizona's gun laws.

"Essentially, there is very little obstacle to purchasing a weapon in the state of Arizona," Grimaldi tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "There are laws that require you, federally, to be at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun. But basically state law permits anyone 21 and older to own a firearm and also, to carry it concealed in the state. That's different than many other states, many of which have stricter gun laws."

In January 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill which repealed an Arizona state law that required gun owners to have permits to carry concealed weapons. Arizona's previous governor Janet Napolitano, now the Homeland Security secretary, had vetoed previous attempts from the gun lobby to scrap the permit requirement.

Arizona also allows gun owners to carry their weapons almost everywhere in the state, including government buildings and inside the state Capitol. Exceptions exist for private businesses and doctor's offices.

"There's a proposal [in Arizona] that would allow teachers and students to carry [weapons] into classrooms and that was meant to be a hedge against what happened at Virginia Tech," says Grimaldi. "It's permitted in a bar [to carry a weapon] in Arizona if the person who has the weapon is not imbibing in alcohol. It's also permitted on school grounds currently if the person is picking up or dropping off a child as long as the weapon is unloaded and the gun owner remains in the vehicle."
It cannot be determined at this time why Jared Loughner focused on killing Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The politicians who spread violent rhetoric through the media did not cause him to conduct teh shooting, but they certainly gave him permission to shoot his enemy. The gun freedom in Arizona did not cause the shooting, but every social system that might have prevented the shooting was removed, most recently when the Arizona Governor signed a bill which repealed an Arizona state law that required gun owners to have permits to carry concealed weapons.

The NRA suggests that if everyone carried weapons shooting events like the one in Tucson would not happen, but an individual who carried a legal weapon was in the Safeway when Congresswoman Giffords was shot. He is reported to have come out to the parking lot where he saw a man holding a gun and nearly shot him. The man hold the gun was the Colonel who had taken it from Jared Loughner. The actual shooting had taken less than 15 seconds so that others with weapons could not have stopped it, and as the near shooting of one of the innocent victims showed the danger of death by innocents is quite high.

The one other thing that is obvious is that it was clear for a long time before the shooting that Jared Loughner needed psychiatric care and did not get it. Such care is not normally available and the laws across the nation do not encourage the courts to force a troubled person to get medical care for psychiatric problems.

What happened in Tucson was not just the actions of a single mad man. It was that, of course, but American society also set it up so that the inevitable crazy individuals are encouraged to commit murder, are given all the tools needed to do it and all of the preventive measures such as care for the mentally ill are being removed. Arizona is the leading low-tax low-service state which will always be ripe for this kind of event.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad, eh? God save us all. Speedy recovery for thos who are still suffering from various ways conditions as a result of this sad incident.