BOSTON (CBS) – The horrific slaughter in Arizona this weekend is a gruesome reminder of how much damage can be caused in a matter of seconds by a killer with a high capacity magazine with 30 rounds of ammo attached to his 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

If the initial reports prove true, that suspect Jared Lee Loughner got such a weapon through a Tucson store called the Sportsman’s Warehouse, I offer a topic for discussion — what kind of “sportsman” needs that kind of firepower, and why was the ban on this weapon allowed to expire during the Bush administration?

Watch Keller @ Large on WBZ-TV

Beyond that, there really isn’t that much to say about the political ramifications of this revolting crime until we know more about the background and motives of the perpetrator.

According to the New York Times, Loughner had mental problems, manifested in part in obscure political rantings. But it’s unclear what if any focus these had.

In an English class, he termed a woman in a poem they were reading who had had an abortion a “terrorist.” But a former high school classmate says he was “left wing, quite liberal.” It would not surprise me if we find out in the end that this pitiful criminal inhabited that nether world of derangement where the far left and the far right intersect, like Andrew Stack, the suicide bomber who flew his plane into an IRS office building last year.

But I don’t know the facts yet, and neither does anyone else, which regrettably hasn’t stopped or even restrained the knee-jerk reaction of some to immediately start ascribing this killing spree to political rhetoric they don’t like, or the nature of our political discourse, or even more vaguely, the “times we live in.”

If we find that Loughner was a devoted Rush Limbaugh listener or surfer of right-wing web sites who became agitated as a result of what he heard, then let that conversation begin.

But until we do learn such facts, the headlong dive into finger-pointing is precisely the kind of inflammatory, discourse-polluting rhetoric so many of those diving right in profess to abhor.

Finger-pointing without facts is rhetorical irresponsibility, and really has only one goal — to inflame, and debase.

And even before we learn more facts, I can tell you right now that while I share the disgust over what sometimes passes for political discussion these days, these are far from the ugliest times in modern political history.

The 1960s were worse, even without the Internet providing an instant soapbox for every idiot with a beef.

Speaking of which, we had a saying that was popular back in the 60’s — if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Those who are so eager to lay blame for this kook on their own enemies — if the shoe fits, wear it.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (26)
  1. DStein says:

    The bigger question is not whether somebody needs a high capacity 9mm handgun, but why someone with a history of mental illness like Loughner was allowed to buy one. There are plenty of 9mm handguns out there that are owned by sane, responsible gun owners.

    1. Steve says:

      Thank you for replying with this. There are to many people out there that think the kind of gun the person had has anything to do with the situation. Had he had a 10 round magazine like what is legal here in MA wouldn’t he still have been able to kill/injure a number of people? As stated, plenty of sane people own guns and would never do anything like this. And to answer the question… how about people who shoot compititions? Size of the gun, or the number of rounds it holds should have no baring on my constitutional right to own a gun. If you don’t like guns, don’t own one, but your feeling should have no impact on my rights.

  2. markthefoamguy says:

    John – why include a comment like this “If we find that Loughner was a devoted Rush Limbaugh listener or surfer of right-wing web sites who became agitated as a result of what he heard, then let that conversation begin” at all? You did the same thing you preach against. Since his favorite publications list included Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto, why didn’t you include something like “if we find he was a left-wing anarchist like Bill Ayers….”??

  3. Carol Mosley says:

    Thank you, John Keller! You are the only person in the media to mention
    the easy availability of handguns and automatic weapons as a contributing factor to the tragedy in Tuscon. It’s the simple truth.

  4. Mann says:

    Unfortunately, even after a tragedy of this magnitude, nothing will change. The news coverage will quietly and slowly go away, and everyone will go back to business as usual until the next round of violence erupts, and we say and discuss the same things all over again. It’s all empty words trying to make sense out of metally ill people who walk the streets every day. Some live their life quietly and don’t bother anyone, while others finally erupt into the Loughner’s of the world and commit unspeakable acts.

  5. Georgw says:

    I would love for the media to focus on the proponents who wanted to ban on high-powered weapons to expire.

  6. Spidey says:

    Well blow me down! John Keller says something I find thoughtful and well-reasoned. Great job focusing on the one undeniable question from this event – how did a weapon of this kind get into the hands of someone in this condition?

  7. JJT says:

    Here is a revolation…When the assault weapon ban was in effect the rate of violent crimes dropped by 0.6%.

    It did not have an affect on violent crimes because of the fact that most violent crimes are commited with a weapon that is easily available. This particular magazine used in this violent crime is a statistical anomoly.

    As sad and unnecessary as this crime is, it is mostly getting media attention because is was perpetrated against a congresswoman. There are violent crimes that occur eery day that do not even make a local newspaper.

    This person was clearly defective mentally. Should he have had a gun? No. How would you suggest that we prevent that? Medical history is private information, unless he had committed a crime before there would be little to no indication of it unless he walked maked into the place where he purchased the firearm.

    Would a 5 day waiting period have helped? No, according to the media he had the firearm for months already.

    Someone clearly as planning and unstable as he is would probably have just waited the week to get the gun anyway…

  8. AbacusUser says:

    “The horrific slaughter in Arizona this weekend is a gruesome reminder of how much damage can be caused in a matter of seconds by a killer with a high capacity magazine with 30 rounds of ammo attached to his 9mm semi-automatic pistol.”

    And the difference between carrying three 10-round magazines instead of one 30-round magazine is what exactly? What if he had 50 five-round magazines?

    As everyone else said – looney-bin kid with handgun is the issue here, regardless of one, ten, or a hundred rounds available to him.

    1. Spidey says:

      “And the difference between carrying three 10-round magazines instead of one 30-round magazine is what exactly? What if he had 50 five-round magazines?”

      … The difference is reloading two times. It was when the kid reloaded that people were able to subdue him.

      Looked at another way – why would a “non-looney-bin” person want to purchase a 30-round magazine instead of 3 10-rounders? Why would they mind going if the 10-round magazines were the only option?

  9. Dontblamethegun says:

    A sportsman does not only include someone that hunts. Shooting is a sport, and certain sports require certain equipment. Again people always try to blame the gun. Lets not forget where firearms got this country where it is today. This guy would have found other means of killing with or without a gun. Stop focusing on the guns and focus on the help these people need before it happens.

  10. Steven says:

    Everyone’s talking about the need to get rid of guns because look at all these nuts with guns… let me tell you something, if the govt makes guns illegal, do you think that’s going to take the guns off the streets? NEVER, it’s only going to take guns away from the average law obiding citizen. As far as I’m concerned, with the amount of crazy people or “thugs” with guns… even more reason to carry. If something ever happened to my wife or child that I could have prevented but didn’t have a gun, I’d never be able to forgive myself. And lets be honest, the police are there to clean up after a crime, not prevent it. How often are cops around when you need them. I’d rather be prepared and not need it, than need it and not be prepared.

  11. Stephen Stein says:

    I’m not sure we in Massachusetts can understand the culture of Arizona when it comes to guns. Unlicensed, concealed carry is legal there. Giffords herself was against restrictive gun laws – you have to be to get elected there.

  12. snowglobe says:

    Oh, how I wish we had the unrestricted laws that Arizona has…

    It is always sad when something like this happens, but this young man would have done something one way or another.

    The gun was simply a tool to him, he was on a mission, he would have figured out a way even without it.

  13. KathyD says:

    All I know is that I am more afraid of the nuts in this country than I am of some random Muslim on a plane. Yet, that’s where our anti-terrorism effort is focused. Have we learned nothing from Timothy McVeigh?

  14. mikey says:

    Politics allowed the weapon ban to expire. Tragic.

  15. snowglobe says:

    No Mikey, statistics that proved the weapons ban did nothing allowed the weapons ban to expire…

    When President Obama was elected over 60 US senators both democrate and republican signed a letter stating that they would NOT suppor another weapons ban…Why, because they could see from the statistics that it did nothing but raise the prices on the guns that were manufactured prior to the ban.

    The study released at the end of the ban showed NO calculable decrease in violent crimes due to what they called “Assault Weapons”…Why? Because criminals do not use assault weapons, they use what are called “weapons of opportunity” like knives, machetes, bats, their feet and yes occasionally firearms, but NOT the kind that were considered assault weapons under the ban.

    Assault Weapon is a term that was coined by the media to develop hype and paranoia, there is no such thing.

    If you have never fired an AR-15 you have no idea what you are talking about, and I make this offer to anyone, contact me and I will personally take you to the range, show you how one works and let you try it.

    1. mikey says:

      Thank you for posting so civilly, I respect not only your opinion but your right to bear arms as well. That said, I’m wondering if eight-year old Christopher Bizilj who was killed when the 9mm micro submachine gun that he was firing at a pumpkin recoiled and shot him in the head, would be alive today if the weapon ban had not been allowed to expire.

      1. snowglobe says:

        Unfortunately, no…The ban only banned guns made after Sept 1994. Nearly all Full-auto firearms that are out today (and that were still available during the ban) were made prior to 1994…So to answer that question…No…it would likely have made no difference.

      2. mikey says:

        Putting an UZI in the hands of an eight-year old is akin to turning a teenager loose in a Ferrari. What was his father thinking? What a horrific accident. Guns aren’t toys – they’re weapons.

      3. snowglobe says:

        I agree totally. I know the gun he fired, I have a couple friends that own one. They are a handful for an adult to control and an 8 year old should never have been allowed to handle it alone. If there was a trained adult there to help him handle/control it I would have gladly allowed him to use it, they are fun and it would have been a thrill for him. BUT not alone. No way.

  16. Dontblamethegun says:

    I would have to agree with you Snowglobe 100%. People that are ignorant to guns really should have no say here. A gun is a gun. A deadly weapon. No matter the size or the caliber. It is the user of the gun and nothing else. Any thing used to assault someone is an “Assault Weapon”. This is the only thing the media is good for is to blow things way out of proportion and to put fear into the mainstream. The first time a gun hater has there butt saved by an armed citizen will give them a different outlook on guns. Wake up America.

  17. Lucy says:

    There are some people that want to get rid of all guns and for good reasons actually. The second amendment has been abused. It was not meant for everyone to be able to have guns at least according to the history that I have read on it.

    How about responsible gun control where everyone has to pass some kind of exam – mental competency – questionnaire – something is better than nothing? There should be a review process and an appeals process.

    We can’t save everyone but we can make improvements. We can say that we have done our best and will continue to tweak and improve. That to me is honest.

  18. snowglobe says:

    Funny you should say it is not meant for everyone…

    TWICE in the last two years the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the Second Amendment applies to EVERY citizen of the United States.

    Using researchers and scholars that specialize in translation of older texts they determined that the founding fathers meant everyone when they wrote the 2nd.

    The term “Common Sense Gun Control” has been tossed around for years. Here is the problem with that as I see it. The people that want to make up the “Common Sense Gun Controls” have little to no knowledge of firearms at all. Most of the people that want to make these laws have never handled a firearm before in their life and do not know anyone that owns a firearm.

    Firearms are a lot more than hunting and shooting burglers, there are tons of competitive opportunities, sporting applications and recreational uses for firearms.

    These “Common Sense Gun Controls” never work because they are bread brush strokes on a very diverse subject. One common sense law that seems to apply well to one thing can be extremely restrictive to another group or sport.

    Making a law that says we are banning all firearms except those used for hunting would be like making a law that says we are banning all bicycles except the ones used for racing. You are completely ignoring all the other potential uses and comepletely restricting or eliminating all the other things people could use a bicycle for.

    Should there be a way to restrict people that have mental issues from getting a gun? Absolutely yes. The problem is that you can’t go around invading peoples privacy to do it. In the case of this person, he has already had run ins with the law, that showed he had issues. That should have been enought to restrict him but it either never made it to his record or it was overlooked.

    When you buy a firearm you have to fill out a form that asks questions like “have you ever been convicted of a felony?”, “Are you Mentally Unstable?”, ” Are you buying this gun for yourself?”. While those are all good questions the problem is if you are mentally unstable and planning to murder someone how would you answer that question?

    In Massachusetts it takes 6-8 weeks or more to get a firearms license and you have to take a class on firearms safety. It can cost you upwards of $300 by the time you get a license for firearms. The police run every background check under the sun on you before they issue you the license yet there is still firearms violence in the state (Higher than most states with far less restrictive laws by the way) Why is that? Because criminally minded people do not care what the Common sesnse law says…creating more laws and more restrictions and more hoops to jump through only hurts the people that follow the laws, making them easy targets for those that don’t.

  19. DStein says:

    As the saying goes, Teddy Kennedy’s car has killed more people than my gun….so should we ban cars, too? More people die from car accidents than guns every single year. Apparently gun owners are better trained and more discplined than the drivers of most cars.

    Really, the anti-gun crowd can’t make a logical argument against gun ownership. They pounce on this incident but were mum about the 72 bodies that piled up in Mayor Menino’s city last year. Not all of them gun crimes, by the way. If they want to get outraged about something, how about the fact that many of those 72 murders in Boston in 201o are unsolved crimes with no arrests.

  20. Dontblamethegun says:

    I think it’s common sense. I would be less likely to hold up a store or a bank knowing that there a majority of people in that facility also holding a gun. It’s time to put the fear in the criminals minds and take it out of the everyday citizens mind.

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