Empty gestures

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 11, 2011

We’ve truly come together as a nation in the wake of last weekend’s tragic shooting that left 6 dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords  and others wounded with some bipartisan stupidity on the part of lawmakers.

Let’s remember that Jared Loughner, the accused shooter, is a nut. He is not an angry, enraged partisan. He is a mentally ill whackjob.

In response to the attack, Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) has proposed a bill that 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.”

Brady would’ve benefited from the reading of the Constitution that the House GOP did last week – especially the First Amendment, ironically read by Giffords. What part of “Congress shall make no law…” does Brady not understand?

[Insert  the numerous articles about Loughner’s complete lack of interest in the tea party, Sarah Palin, talk radio, etc. and his penchant for the Communist Manifesto, space aliens, English grammar, etc. as evidence here.]

So, knowing all that, Brady’s proposed law is a proper response to this tragedy how exactly?

Proving that political stupidity knows no partisan boundaries, we have Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) who has proposed a  ban on guns within 1,000 feet of “certain high-ranking federal officials.”

“It would give law enforcement the weapon they need to protect federal officials, and just as importantly, it would provide a large measure of security for those who want to meet with their federal elected officials,” said King, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Yeah, because that law against shooting people in the first place seems to have worked so well last Saturday, what we need is another meaningless law.

King attempted to defend his idiocy over at National Review Online:

King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, acknowledges that his legislation, if it had been on the books, might not have prevented the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.) and others. “Maybe not in this case, but in others it could be prevention,” he argues.

“It would be helpful to the extent that if the police saw him with a bulge in his pocket or saw him touching his pocket or rubbing his jacket, it could raise their suspicion. Then they could go over, and if he had [a gun], they could make him leave,” King says. “But do I expect someone like [Jared Lee Loughner] to follow the law? Absolutely not.”

Well, then you’re not really doing anything to solve the problem, are you?

If we’re serious about taking a look at this tragedy, the thing we ought to be looking at is the state of the law with regards to committing the mentally ill to institutions. Why wasn’t Loughner locked up long before Saturday? He’d gotten kicked out of the local community college because they were afraid he’d shoot students in class. He’d reportedly made threats against other people. Perhaps the current bar for involuntarily committing people to mental hospitals needs to be lowered.

Neither Rep. King nor Rep. Brady’s proposed legislation does anything to address the problem at hand – instead they use the current tragedy as a  pretext to get some of their pet legislative priorities some air time.


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January 2011



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