Antis rush to exploit Tucson shooting
by Dave Workman
Anti-gunners moved swiftly to exploit the attempted assassination of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, reported to be a centrist Democrat who has been elected in November to a third term in the 8th District of Arizona, at a Tucson, AZ, shopping mallcalling for re-imposition of bans on so-called assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazineseven before investigators had finished at the crime scene.
Their effort continued as anti-gun New York Democrat Rep. Carolyn McCarthy submitted legislation to outlaw large magazines, and as gun prohibitionists appeared on national television advocating renewal of the semi-auto ban and also legislation to close the so-called gun show loophole. Author John Lott, appearing opposite Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, on Fox News, was quick to remind viewers that the Giffords attack, which left six people dead including a federal judge and 9-year-old child, had no connection to gun shows.
Another New York lawmaker, Rep. Peter King, proposed creating a “gun free zone” around politicians and federal judges, and New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg is also looking to ban large-capacity magazines.
The Glock 9mm pistol used in the attack was legally purchased on Nov. 30 from a Tucson-area sporting goods store. The suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, faces multiple charges. He was wrestled to the ground by three men, one of whom was an armed citizen but did not draw his pistol, while a woman grabbed a spare magazine Loughner was trying to load into his empty handgun.
The armed citizen, Joe Zamudio, became an overnight celebrity, appearing in several live interviews on various Fox News programs. As he repeated his account of his involvement in taking the suspect down, it became clear that he entered the fracas ready to act. However, his experience with firearms became quickly evident when he also repeatedly told interviewers, including Fox’s Sean Hannity, that as he rushed up to the scene, he could see that the suspect’s pistol had run dry and the slide was locked back. Instead of opening fire, he jumped on Loughner, holding him down along with two other men, one of whom had actually been wounded by the gunman.
That man, retired Army Col. Bill Badger, had been grazed by a bullet that struck the back of his head. Still, Badger grabbed Loughner in a choke hold while another man put his knee in the gunman’s back. At the same time, a woman named Patricia Maisch had knocked Loughner’s spare magazine out of his hand as he was apparently trying to reload. That was apparently when Zamudio arrived and joined in the takedown.
Killed in the shooting was federal Judge John Roll, elementary student Christina Taylor Green, Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, Dorwin Stoddard, 79-year-old Phyllis Schneck and 76-year-old Dorothy Morris. In all, 20 people were reportedly hit, but the primary target was Rep. Giffords, who was shot in the head but survived the attack, and has been reported recovering.
Pima County, AZ Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, a Democrat, used his first press conference following the shooting to denounce conservative political rhetoric. The Washington Post subsequently reported that Dupnik was an outspoken opponent of concealed or open carry. The newspaper quoted him stating, “I have never been a proponent of letting everybody in this state carry weapons under any circumstances that they want. And that’s almost where we are.”
In the days following the shooting, Dupnik revealed himself as an anti-gunner, having previously opposed not only the concealed carry law but also opposing campus carry by qualified licensees. When he repeatedly engaged in conjecture about the shooting and its political overtones, the Arizona Republic took him to task, noting in an editorial, “Dupnik needs to recall that he is elected to be a lawman. With each additional comment, the Democratic sheriff of Pima County is revealing his agenda as partisan, and, as such, every bit as recklessly antagonistic as the talk-show hosts and politicians he chooses to decry.”
Last year, Arizona adopted a new statute that does away with the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun, although the state does still issue licenses to qualifying applicants, primarily for reciprocal carry in other states. Open carry has always been legal in the state.
The debate has continued since the shootings, which left several other people wounded. It appears that Loughner had planned this shooting spree, having left a message on Facebook, and writings at his home that were found by investigators. The suspect has a reported history of instability and erratic behavior, and he reportedly failed a military enlistment drug test.
While one of his former classmates described him as “left wing” and a “pot head,” liberal pundits quickly tried to portray Loughner as someone who may have been guided by right wing rhetoric. The Wall Street Journal even noted the quick tilt of the discussion into the political arena, with criticisms heaped upon every available target including talk show lightning rods Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and former Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
In the midst of the debate, Congressman Robert Brady (D-PA) proposed legislation that raised First Amendment concerns. Brady would make it a federal crime to “use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.” According to The Hill, Brady said he wants the same “protections” against a threat now enjoyed by the President. Critics of that proposal swiftly noted that this could start a domino effect in which such protections would subsequently be sought for federal employees or others.
Through the controversy, a troubling profile of the alleged shooter was revealed. He reportedly alarmed students at Pima Community College last year until he was suspended for his bizarre behavior. He disrupted one class by asking the instructor whether he believed in mind control. One student, Alex Kotonias, told USA Today that “He was one of the last kids to come in, and he sat down and almost immediately started laughing to himself in a way that was just kind of creepy.”
At least two members of Congress, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Heath Shuler (D-NC) announced they would start carrying concealed handguns when they are back in their home districts. Both are legally licensed to carry.
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