Attack on Giffords
a 'Footnote in Year of Economic Crisis'
or not a lack of gun control is behind the attack on U.S. Congresswoman
Gabrielle Giffords and those that came to meet her at a Tucson supermarket,
according to this op-ed by scholar Xu Lifan of China's state-run Beijing
Youth Daily, it won’t do a thing to dent America's penchant for guns or the
rules that govern gun ownership. Rather, Americans will conclude that the
massacre was a result of difficult economic times.
On January 8th, while
attending a rally in Arizona, U.S. Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
was shot by a 22-year-old gunman and sent for emergency treatment. U.S.
District Judge John Roll
and a 9-year-old child were among the six people killed, and eleven others were
injured. This is the most serious shooting incident since the massacre at Virginia
Tech in April 2007, which left 33 people dead, and the killings at Fort Hood,
Texas in November 2009, when 13 people were killed. As the gunman's main
target, Giffords' politician identity will likely set off a series of subtle
reactions within American society and Washington D.C. political circles.
As the country with the
world's largest number of privately owned firearms, nearly 250 million guns and
seven billion bullets are purchased annually, and around 30,000 people are killed
by gunfire every year. Among all cases involving violence, there's a high rate
of gun use, thus leading to frequent shootings. The attack in Arizona is merely
the latest footnote illustrating America's oversight of gun control.
However, while we are the
subject of security, there were some novel aspects about the Arizona shooting. Among
the string of past shootings that shocked the nation and world, the targets
were generally unspecific. The victims were either people in the shooter's
living environment or those who accidentally came within the attacker's view.
In the case of Giffords and the 22-year-old gunman Jared Loughner, there were
no daily or work-related interactions. Therefore, the possibility of a shooter
opening fire over political differences is greatly increased.
From public media reports, we
know that although Loughner is suspected of being uneducated as well as having
psychological problems, it's obvious that he has extremely strong opinions. His
opinions are said to be of a "philosophical temperament" by people
who knew him. The key "philosophical" views reflected in Loughner's
everyday conversation were that people "don't need to accept federal
law," that "mind control and brainwashing is going on
everywhere" and that he hopes people will "no longer be
illiterate." At the same time, he believes the use of "conscious
dreaming" is the "biggest inspiration for a political career."
Clearly, despite his scattered thinking, there's no doubt about his preference for
political and public issues.
He is also obsessed with
doomsday prophecy - which may have provided a motive for his extreme behavior.
Taking a look at the targets he chose, as someone who prefers political topics
but is far from politics himself, coming into contact with a political figure at
one point in time may easily have made that politician his first choice.
Coincidentally, in 2007, Loughner had met Representative Giffords and asked her
several questions, after which he concluded that "she is stupid and
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
Whether this bloody attack
was triggered by deranged thinking, or, as police suspect, there are
accomplices who may have helped planned it, the shooting of the Congresswoman
is highly unusual compared to those of other recent political figures who were
nearly assassinated. Far from involving public issues, Reagan's assassination
attempt was due to insane behavior from a fan of a celebrity. Other attempts
were either plots by enemies from outside of the U.S. or domestic opponents
expressing extreme hatred - but none were successful.
Therefore, the attack on
Giffords may prompt a new round of debate in the U.S. on social issues. The opening
round will be on America's outdated system of gun control. Whenever a shocking
shooting attack occurs, a fire is lit under those who have differing opinions
on the issue of gun control. However, in June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed
clearly for the first time the right of U.S. citizens to carry concealed weapons,
which will suffice to keep any discussion of gun control at the level of a war
of words. It's a policy change that will be difficult to promote. The second
round will involve the exchange of partisan shellfire between political
parties, particularly in terms of public administration. The third round will
be about economic issues. The first order of business to have been taken up by
the new House of Representatives, whether to repeal Obama's health care plan, has
been delayed because of Giffords' shooting, and the possibility of someone using
this as an opportunity to gain political leverage cannot be ruled out, but it
would be an enormous political and moral risk.
The reaction to Giffords' shooting
will be like all the others: it won't serve as a starting point for addressing public
safety in American society. Perhaps what will really stick in people's minds
will be the backdrop of the shooting: the failure to lift the worst economic
crisis in years and the confusion and anxiety of some people within American
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