Straight Shootin’: The tragedy in Tucson and the blame game
By Eric R. Sonnenberg
Within hours of the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 8, the finger-pointing started.
The left blaming the right. The right blaming the left. Both sides blaming the media for the inflammatory political vitriol. Blame the political map with the crosshairs on it. Blame the shooter’s parents. Blame the Tucson-area law enforcement for not preventing the tragedy. Blame the gun dealer for selling the shooter the gun and extended high-capacity magazines. Blame Walmart for selling him the ammo. Blame the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) for not uncovering the apparently well-known fact the shooter was mentally ill and should not have been able to buy a gun.
All of this blaming is nonsense. It is not productive. It will do nothing to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. The only blame here rests squarely on the shoulders of one person. The blame belongs to the shooter. The blame belongs to Jared Loughner. Jared Loughner ALONE.
Many are expressing outrage that something like this could happen. They say there has to be a way to prevent this from happening in the future. There is not. We have more than 300 million people in this country. There are many maniacs among us. Some are homicidal.
Many who know Loughner have the OPINION he is mentally ill. The fact is, Loughner has never been adjudicated as a mental defective in a court of law or legal proceeding. There is no proof he had ever directly threatened anybody. He has never been convicted of a crime.
We live in a free society. We can’t just label somebody mentally ill or a danger to society and throw him or her in jail or the nut house based on somebody’s opinion. Would anybody want to live in a Nazi society where they could do that?
The fact is, no amount of legislation or regulation could have prevented this tragedy. The irrational, random acts of a madman cannot be foreseen or collectively guarded against by reasonable means. The sad fact is that events like this will happen from time to time, and there is nothing we can do about it. Next month will mark two years since the column I wrote concerning the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre at Northern Illinois University. A year before that, I wrote a letter to the editor of The Rock River Times regarding the tragedy at Virginia Tech, and that is how this column was born. No doubt somewhere down the road, another senseless killing will occur. I don’t mean to be callous, and I am deeply sorry this horrible incident occurred, but that is the world we live in.
If we want to live in a world with individual rights and freedoms, we must exercise individual responsibilities and accountability. One goes hand in hand with the other. Since we cannot depend on society as a whole to guarantee our safety, we must as individuals do whatever we can do to protect ourselves and our families.
Here is what you can do. Keep your homes and vehicles locked at all times. Be aware of your surroundings and suspicious activity. Report any suspicious activity. Avoid bad areas, and if you have to go there, do not go alone. Make sure you know your family’s schedules and make sure they know yours. Communicate—cell phones for all family members is a must. If you keep a firearm for personal protection or home defense, learn how to use it correctly, and practice your efficiency with it. Learn when not to use it.
A cheap gun for plinking at the range is one thing, but if you are buying a gun for personal defense or home protection, buy the very best quality firearm you can afford. When you and your family’s lives are at stake, it is no time to depend on a cheap Saturday Night Special. Loughner used a Glock Model 19 semi-automatic 9mm pistol, which is a very accurate, highly-dependable firearm. The Glock 19 is also one of the handguns the shooter at Virginia Tech used. Since the shootings in Tucson, sales of Glock 19s have skyrocketed nationally. I sold three Glock 19s in the three days immediately following the shootings this last week. I myself use a Glock 19 as one of my personal defense weapons.
It is too bad we live in a violent world where guns are necessary to protect ourselves. If we didn’t, of course, I would be out of business, and I think that would be great. Neither is likely to happen anytime soon, however, so do what you can, hope for the best, but plan for the worst, and be careful out there.
Eric R. Sonnenberg is a Federal Firearms Licensed gun dealer who owns Forest City Firearms, 137 N. Chicago Ave., Rockford or online at www.forestcityfirearms.com. He can be reached at (815) 262-4279 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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