Sunday, January 9, 2011

Senseless Shootings in Arizona and Saddening Political Spin

Photo: AP/Matt York
Christina Taylor Green, 9
The six people who lost their lives yesterday in a senseless shooting spree by an "unstable" 22 year old, have been identified.  Among them, District Judge John M. Roll (63) - a Catholic who went to daily Mass, a 30 year old staffer - Gabe Zimmerman who was engaged to be married, and a nine year old girl, Christina Taylor Green (right), who was just elected to her student council and recently made her First Holy Communion.  The girl, interested in politics, went there at the invitation of a neighbor who was shot four times and survived. Fox News has released an interview with the young girl's mother, and an interview with her father.  After saying that he did not want to see further restrictions put on people because of this tragedy, he goes on to tell us what he wants us to take away from it.  I suspect that we will be seeing this family working to keep their daughter's legacy alive. 

Let us pray for the repose of the souls of the dead, for their families, and for the recovery of those who have suffered such traumatic injuries. 

This may be difficult for some to understand when I say that as Christians we are also called to pray for this young man.  May he be moved to repent of his actions.  While little is known about his home life, family members of the shooter suffer a different kind of loss today.  It is a very difficult thing to have a loved one responsible for such senseless destruction of life.  Of course people will want to look for blame in his upbringing, but at the end of the day, we all have a free will and make choices.  Not all children of alcoholics become alcoholics and not all children of battering fathers become abusive.  People rise above those things all the time because they choose not to be victims.  I know people who have suffered horribly as children in previous generations and they didn't go out and commit murder.  At some point, we have to stop shifting the blame for people who make bad choices.  This young man may have some mitigating circumstances if he has true mental health problems that have gone unaddressed, but even the mentally ill are aware of the choices they make.

Congresswoman "Gabby" Giffords, amazingly, is alive after a bullet went clean through her head at point blank range.  Authorities say that she is "responding to commands" and that only one side of her brain has been damaged.  This means that, as brain injuries go, she appears to be on the high end of the scale (being able to respond to commands is much better than simply responding to a pin-prick).  The first 30 hours are the most critical.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers. Her husband, Mark Kelly is a space shuttle commander who is slated to go up this spring.  Whether he will proceed on that mission is unknown at this time.  I would imagine his first concern is his wife.

The shooter, Jared Loughner, had tried to enter the military and was rejected.  The Privacy Act prevents them from releasing the reason for the rejection. He was kicked out of college and told he could come back after he had a mental examination that proved he was not a danger to himself or others.   He has been arrested in the past and extracts from his YouTube videos show a young man that is not "together".  He described himself as a terrorist.  It's unforunate that somewhere along the line, the man was not placed under evaluation.  But, as we have seen repeatedly with people that have mental health issues, it takes murder to get them put away.  More than likely, Arizona will put him to death.

Sadly, some people are focusing on where to fix blame in a way that aligns with their political view of things, Elizabeth Scalia blogs on this at First Things.  Yesterday, I caught her comment on Twitter @TheAnchoress) which summed up my thoughts as I saw this political blame game. 

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; and sometimes an incoherent nutcase is just an incoherent nutcase.

Exactly!  As news reports spill out about Loughner, there is evidence that this guy had no affection for the Republicans, the Tea Party, the Democrats or US government in general.  It appears he had anti-semitic views as well (Giffords was Jewish).  If the young man has aligned himself with anything, it is an anti-government group of some kind. 

We would all do well to wait for further developments and to pray, more than anything.

Edit:  Here is an interesting read from Steven Ertelt at LifeNews:

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Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; and sometimes an incoherent nutcase is just an incoherent nutcase.