This country has a history of political violence: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley were shot and killed in office.
Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest in 1912 while campaigning for the presidency. Franklin Roosevelt was shot a month before his inauguration, the bullet killing the mayor of Chicago. Assassins carried out a plot to kill Harry Truman killing one of the president’s bodyguards at Blair House. Jack Kennedy was killed by an assassin. Gerald Ford was shot at twice in separate assassination attempts.
Ronald Reagan was almost killed by an assassin, saved only by the quick thinking of a Secret Service agent who got him to the hospital in three minutes. Huey Long, George Lincoln Rockwell, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Allard Lowenstein, Malcolm X - -all killed by gunmen.
We’ve grown up with knowing this stuff. We are not like other countries, not in Europe, not in Africa, not in Asia, not in South America, not in Canada, not in Mexico. It’s only here that political assassination has worked its way into the history books and won’t get out.
Given this, why would anyone bring a gun to a political event? Why would anyone want to? Why would any political leader think it just fine to do so?
For one reason, I can only suppose, to say that guns can be a solution to a political difference. What does it mean when a senator says that he wishes we still lived in the day when you challenge a man to a duel? Is that a joke?
Or when a possible presidential candidates paints targets, cross-hairs over members of Congress she disagrees with, who says she wants to “re-load” politically? Who poses with a giant telescopic lens to show she can kill a live target standing right there in front of her?
Or the senate candidate who says she supports “Second Amendment remedies” to political differences with the Congress? How can a person who has any sense of our history talk like that?
John Wilkes Booth didn’t like which way the Civil War went. Lee Harvey Oswald was infatuated politically with Fidel Castro and didn’t like what Kennedy had said about him. Sirhan Sirhan didn’t like Bobby Kennedy’s strong support for Israel.
Assassins often have recognized political motives, left and right, to go out and kill a politician. They don’t like what a leader stands for; they go kill him.
The matter here is what you believe about gun violence and politics.
Do we think guns are a proper reference point in political debate. If not, why are guns even mentioned in our political discussions? Why are they carried to political events? Is there any other interpretation than this: that some people believe guns, the threat of using them, are a political solution to this country’s debate?
Can we, out of this horror in Arizona, simply agree on this one thing: don’t bring guns to political events, don’t talk about guns in political argument.
Can we just cool it on this easy, frisky talk of gunplay?