The year 2011 was a tragic year for mass shootings by dangerously crazy men who legally were able to buy firearms. I would posit that we need to do more than simply prohibit the schizophrenic paranoiacs from LEGALLY buying firearms because we don't have a good way of preventing them from doing so. We had the Virginia Tech mass shooter who was dangerously mentally ill; we have had Jared Loughner, and then later in 2011, in Norway, Anders Breivik. Even when someone has been IDENTIFIED as being dangerously mentally ill, including where it has been noted by a judge in court proceedings, we have 30 states which have reported few, mostly NONE, of these names to the NICS data base, and where there is no funding and no process in place to identify these individuals, little or no effort whatsoever to prevent this legally prohibited group of people from acquiring the firearms they use to commit mass shootings of innocent people.
We have very effective means of diagnosing and identifying people who are dangerously schizophrenic, who are the dangerously mentally ill people that commit crimes like this. The lower level paranoia that seems to afflict the pro-gunners who differ from the rest of us in being so fearful they need to strap on a weapon to empower them, and to wear it everywhere every minute of the day regardless of any objective measurement of risk. These same progunner 'nuts' are as irrationally afraid of mental health professionals making an occasional error as they are delusional in expecting they will have an occasion to be a hero, or the more serious delusions they harbor about their safety and expertise with a firearm that will keep them from making a dangerous error with their firearm.
The mental health profession is not the threat we should be worrying about here; they are not the ones who present a lethal danger to others. Dangerously schizophrenic people with guns ARE a serious threat, which is clear from our news - our national news, and the international news. The fear of mental health testing is not rational, and it is just one more way in which the pro-gunners fears are out of touch with objective reality in a way which creates a very real greater danger for ALL of us - and NOT in a way which the pro-gunners carrying their guns can solve.
I feel tremendous admiration for how the Congresswoman and her husband have dealt with this tragedy. I feel the greatest possible degree of sympathy for those who lost loved ones, and for those other shooting victims who have endured the pain of being shot, and the struggle to recover from this violent act by a crazy man with a legal deadly weapon. The very least we can do is constructively and pro-actively to prevent other people from being shot by dangerously mentally ill people who should never be allowed to buy a firearm or ammunition.
From MSNBC.com, Reuters and the AP:
Giffords returns to Tucson shooting scene
Other victims preparing for anniversary of tragedy that left six deadTUCSON, Ariz. — Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords made a surprise return to the Tucson grocery store where she was wounded in a deadly mass shooting on January 8 last year, as the city braced on Saturday for the event's somber anniversary.A gunman toting a semiautomatic pistol pumped bullet after bullet into the crowd gathered for a congressional outreach meeting outside the Safeway store in northwest Tucson almost a year ago.
Giffords, who has been in rehabilitation in Houston for a gunshot through her head, returned to the store on Saturday evening. She was accompanied by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, her office said.
"Gabby just visited the Safeway for the 1st time since 1/8/11," Kelly tweeted.
"It's been a tough year, but we're lucky to have so many people standing w/us," he added.
Giffords has only visited the southwest city four times since the deadly shooting spree last year that killed six people and wounded her and 12 others.
In another unannounced visit earlier in the day, Giffords hiked outside Tucson on a desert trail named for her slain aide Gabe Zimmerman, her office said, stopping briefly to talk to hikers.
"The closer we get to Sunday, the more emotional it gets," said Bill Badger, a retired Army colonel hailed as a hero for tackling accused gunman Jared Loughner to the ground as he attempted to reload.
A few hundred people swayed to a steel band at Reid Park in central Tucson, at an upbeat music festival attended by Zimmerman's father, Ross.
"I'm finding this a really positive, uplifting day," Zimmerman told Reuters.
'Recovery and resilience' A few miles to the north, several hundred people visited a trail to remember the youngest victim, 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, shot down at the Congress on Your Corner event.
Several of her school friends sketched pictures with chalk on the sidewalk. A message in a child's hand read, "Christina we miss you."
Giffords' spokesman Mark Kimble, who was standing near her when she was shot, said the anniversary was a challenge for the survivors.
"I think very often about it on Saturday mornings, especially this time of year when the weather is similar," he said.
Giffords, who has been undergoing intensive therapy at a Houston hospital since she was shot, will join a candlelight vigil at the University of Arizona on Sunday evening with her husband.
The event is expected to draw thousands of residents of residents of Tucson, a city of 520,000 people that many describe as a "small big town."
Also taking part in the vigil will be Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Rabbi Stephanie Aaron and Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of the division of trauma, critical care and emergency surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center, who treated Giffords and others who were wounded in the shooting.
"I don't want to go on Dr. Phil and tell him how long I cried after I got shot," Fuller told Reuters.Some survivors have chosen to talk about the traumatic events of the shooting. But Navy veteran Eric Fuller, who was shot in the leg and back a year ago, said he preferred not to dwell on the tragedy.
Fuller said he would attend events including a church service and vigil on Sunday evening.
College dropout Loughner, 23, was arrested at the scene of the shooting and charged with crimes including attempting to assassinate Giffords. He pleaded not guilty.
Found mentally unfit to stand trial, he is being treated in a federal prison hospital in Missouri.