‘You can’t outsmart crazy’—or can you?

Andrew Potter on the only real cause of the Arizona assassination attempt


 

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

It is typical of the political cowardice of the Democratic party, and of the intellectual impotence of the American left in general, that even when something so blatantly political as the shooting of one of their own members of Congress occurs, it finds itself in full retreat, unwilling to try to capitalize on the tragedy.

The pattern is always the same. Whenever someone shoots up a school, or a church, or a supermarket in the U.S., conservatives invariably use it as the occasion to engage in a rhetorical re-enactment of the American Revolution. The usual arguments against gun control are trotted out—guns don’t kill people, the killer was insane—while the left, desperate to avoid being baited as anti-American, quakes in fear.

There were some early, ham-handed attempts by liberals at tieing the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords to the Tea Party, to Sarah Palin, or to the climate of vitriol and hate that has consumed American politics since Obama was elected. But within a few days they were conceding argument after argument to conservatives. The rout was completed on Monday night when Jon Stewart, the arbiter-in-chief of smug centrism, handed everyone their Twitter-points for the next day. “Boy, would it be nice to be able to draw a straight line of causation from this horror to something tangible,” he said. But unfortunately, “You cannot outsmart crazy”.

As it happens, “you can’t outsmart crazy” is the preferred conservative framing of the Arizona shootings. Writing for the National Review Online, the historian Victor David Hanson mocked any attempt to tie Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage to anything the right has said or done. Loughner, he said, “more likely fit the profile of an unhinged killer like Ted Kaczynski” than that of some rabid partisan or cold-blooded political assassin. Thanks to the “political vultures” on the left, we are suddenly back in “a 1963 mood of blaming politics for deranged shootings.”

It is true that Loughner is almost certainly mentally ill. And no, you probably can’t draw a “straight line of causation” from the Tea Party to the shootings. In these cases, you almost never can. But it does not follow that Loughner was not abetted, or at least encouraged, by the politics of the right. So let’s ask a different question: why was a deranged young man able to buy a semi-automatic handgun? We’re talking, after all, about someone who was turned down by the U.S. Army for a job in the gun-carrying business, but who merely had to walk down to the local sporting goods shop to pick up a Glock.

Everyone knows there are lots of guns in America. Two hundred million of them in private hands is the usual estimate, about half of them handguns, making the United States far and away the most densely armed country on the planet.

Less well known is that the U.S. also has, by far, the highest rates of serious mental illness in the world. A 2004 study by the World Health Organization found that 26 per cent of Americans had some form of mental disorder, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The only country anywhere near this level was Ukraine, at 21 per cent.

It is fine for gun nuts to cite chapter and verse from the U.S. constitution, but at some point you have to accept that political principles, and policies that flow from them, need some rational connection to social realities. The math is pretty simple: lots of guns plus lots of crazies equals lots of crazies with guns, yet conservatives act as if the massacre of American citizens by a deranged individual is akin to an earthquake: destructive to be sure, but completely beyond our control.

It isn’t. In a society where mentally ill individuals regularly go on gun rampages, you can do one of two things. You can take steps to keep guns away from them, or you can make it easier for them to get the help they need. Ideally you would do both, but for pro-gun anti-health-care conservatives, the better solution is to do neither. Instead, guns are made as accessible as possible, while basic mental health care is unavailable to those who need it most but can least afford it.

In one of the more darkly perceptive episodes of The Simpsons, Homer decides to buy a weapon after a wave of violence hits Springfield. He heads to the local gun shop, only to be told he has to wait five days for a background check. In a response that pretty much sums up the conservative attitude toward gun control in the United States, Homer whines, “Five days? But I’m mad now!”

Unlike Homer, Jared Loughner walked into his local gun shop and walked right out with a pistol, suggesting that wherever the fictional Springfield is, it’s not Arizona, ground zero of crazy conservative politics. If the right is willing to forget that, the left shouldn’t.

Maybe the tenor of debate has already started to change. A Republican congressman, Peter King, has said he will introduce legislation banning guns from being carried within 1,000 feet of a federal official. But the right always makes these sorts of concessions, and they are always temporary. In 1994, the Clinton administration passed the federal assault weapons ban, mandating no gun could have a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. The ban was allowed to expire in 2004 by Congress. The gun that Loughner used to spray the crowd, killing six and wounding 14 others, had a 31-round magazine.


 
Filed under:

‘You can’t outsmart crazy’—or can you?

  1. I like new feature with short interview with author but less impressed with Potter's column this week.

    Whether you like it or not, America has second amendment and it's law that Americans are allowed guns. Dems won't get much traction with gun control message outside a few Liberal cities on East Coast and will loss plenty of support from hunters in Wisconsin, for instance. Hunting is non-partisan issue.

    "But it does not follow that Loughner was not abetted, or at least encouraged, by the politics of the right."

    As I have asked before, why do Dems have this idea that Repubs/cons have this magical ability to control people's actions with their words while Dems can say whatever they like and not influence anyone.

    What about Dems behaviour when they push for more liberal marijuana laws, there is evidence that ganja and bipolar should not mix. What message are they sending?

    And while I am pulling connections out of my arse like Potter does in his column, what about fact that Congresswoman Giffords was jewish, Loughner was fan of Mein Kempf, and we all know that left wing has long history of coddling anti- semites.

    • Agreed, gun control won't get traction… I mean, if the well is dry, why pump it?

      Republicans don't have the ability to "control" actions, but they certainly can "influence" them. An ability that incidentally the democrats have as well.

      Ganja and bipolar shouldn't mix?… there is stronger evidence that guns and bipolar don't mix methinks, yet it's legal and quite easy to get one of these two.

      In terms of Gifford being Jewish, point well made, I'm sure there was more than one kind of hatred at work… probably didn't help that she was a woman too.

      • To Michael,
        And what was Sarah Palin thinking when she commented?
        It sounds to me that she read a prepared text with a phrase that she could not even comprehend.
        Blood Libel!! Are you kidding me?
        Indeed, she isn't even worth this typeface except that I am afraid she has traction among a certain fringe group of gun carrying reactionaries.
        anit-semitism is alive and well on both sides of the US political landscape.

    • "But it does not follow that Loughner was not abetted, or at least encouraged, by the politics of the right."

      My interpretation of this isn't the same as yours. I read it to mean that their policy preferences and the success they have had in achieving them have led to the conditions Potter describes. In other words, they have been successful at maintaining ease of access and ownership for gun owners and they have successfully minimized the State's responsibilities to and provision of services to the mentally ill. The result of which is Potter's equation of too many guns + too many mentally ill = too many crazies with guns

      • I believe your last line sums up potters point 100%

    • Yes they have the second amendment, but the intent of the amendment is the freedom to own arms in order to be able to raise a militia to protect the citizenry. Somehow, I think 200,000,000 guns is (and I am using this word deliberately) overkill.
      And we should be aware that we have a lot more guns in this country than we care to admit.
      As with all major problems, the solution requires multiple tactics and will not be helped by debates that assume there are black or white solutions.

    • Republicans enjoy more control over their supporters because their supporters tend to be stupider.

      A bipolar person smoking weed is no more a danger to himself or others than a bipolar person who is not. Unless he has access to a keyboard, apparently.

      The coddling anti-Semites? Huh? Isn't it the left that is always seeking to silence Holocaust deniers and the right that is looking to protect their free speech rights?

    • That you would say the connection between super easy access of guns to crazies and rampage shootings was 'pulled out of his ass' is just nonsensical and you know it, OF COURSE there is a connection if I give a gun right now back in that man's hand and pointed it at your head you would get my point. As far as' Dems having this idea that what they say won't influence people but Cons do..well consider the absolutely outrageous rantings of the ultra conservative media in that country, watch Glenn Beck and tell me that man is not nuts himself, or Rush Limbaugh these people are extremists, not too far unlike the Iranian government in some respects, such as the branding that condoms are anti family and wont protect you from AIDS, only if you believe in Mohammad or Christ will you get into heaven etc.
      And Dems 'coddling anti-semites' ?? please ALL Bill Clinton worked on during his presidency was PEACE between Israel and Palestine, the actions of the modern Israeli gov are being condemned WORLDWIDE, so don't tell me the WORLD hates jews! They simply condemn the recent actions of their government NOT the people.

      • have you ever seen picture from some of those "anit war" rallies they have in San Fransisco? http://pajamasmedia.com/zombie/2010/11/14/nancy-p
        yes many of the images are cherry picked t highlight the extreme side of liberalism and don't reflect the majority by any stretch of the imagination. however the fact remains that extremism is not limited to either side.

    • LMAO Patrick F. nuff said. bergkamp is as popular on here as he is on IRC chat I see, makes just about as much sense too. there is no constitution or bill of rights in theUSA bergkamp, did you forget the patriot act?

    • "… Loughner was fan of Mein Kempf, and we all know that left wing has long history of coddling anti- semites"

      What evidence do you have for this ridiculous assertion? Let me guess: Goldberg's book – which ironically was given a pretty negative review by AP.

  2. Americans have a choice: They can start introducing serious gun control and see these kinds of deaths decline, or they can maintain the status quo and see them continue unabated. It's a bargain. How much is your 'right to bear arms' worth? If Americans are OK with seeing so many people shot and killed every year because they feel they need easy access to guns, well, that's their choice. They can live or die with it.

    • The choice has been made and accepted.

      In the last two years, the number of Americans who believe the need to preserve gun rights trumps the need for gun control has increased by 25%.

      • Together, the two of you have summed it all up fairly succinctly – well done.

    • Indeed, the occasional bloodbath of innocents is just the price Americans pay for easy access to guns.

    • It's also gotta-be-said: for the last several decades, American blacks, with about 10-12% of the population, have committed 1/2 of the murders, and 1/2 of the violent crime in general. So, would you say "Americans have a choice: They can start introducing serious control of blacks, and see these kinds of deaths decline, or they can maintain the status quo and see them continue unabated. It's a bargain. …that's their choice."?

      • I would suggest that since given the massive over-representation of its black citizens in US prisons, the US has already decided to introduce serious control of them.

        Unfortunately for us, it doesn't look like we have learned from that experiment with regard to our Aboriginal population.

        • Yes, some authorities do attribute the decline in the numbers of murders/year from 23,000/yr in the early '90's to 16,000/yr in the 2000's to the increase in the length of prison terms by courts, and to the increasing reluctance of parole boards to grant early release.

  3. Excluding the people killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 150,000 Americans have been murdered since the beginning of the 21st century.

    The US is a violent society, conceived in violence, and run in violence, at home and abroad ever since. It's their culture.

    So untill they're prepared to change their culture, and they aren't as yet, this mayhem will continue.

    • Just about every nation was conceived in violence. Here are a few examples in case you need them, Canada, Britain, France, Mexico, Russia, China, Japan,…… What you need to realize is that we live in a violent world, but that there are pockets of peaceful places, such as Canada (even though we were conceived in violence).

      • Sorry, those countries didn't start with a revolution, nor did they carry forward any idea of civil wars or 'frontier justice'.

        No, we don't live in a violent world….in fact violence has been decreasing over the centuries as we've evolved.

        • Your argument was NOT about revolution, but about violence, and there was plenty of that in all of those countries. Yes, violence has decreased somewhat, but if you look around the world there is violence everywhere.

    • Not that I don't think you are partly right, but if the Americans were a country of passive appeasers there would be a lot more goose-stepping in the world today.

      • Americans didn't save us from the Nazis, so stop repeating their propaganda.

        • They didn't? Hmmmm…strange.

          Seems to me that without first their aid (to both the Soviets and the British, aka the lend lease program), and then their actual involvement (in both the Pacific and European theater), the war would have went much differently.

          Tell me how they didn't save us; I'm curious as to what colour they sky is in your world.

          • 3 years late to the party in WWI and 2 years and a massive provocation before manning up in WWII

          • Americans showed up late after the Russians had taken out the German tanks, and Germany was without a navy, airforce or oil.

            They just took credit for what everyone else had done over years.

            You need to learn actual history, not just watch Hollywood propaganda.

          • Citation, please?

          • Well I can take you through all the tank battles, notably the Battle of Kursk…..and Rommel in North Africa, and the Germans frantically trying to find oil substitutes and all, but there just isn't room.

            So I'll give you a column that sums it up nicely, although you'll have to track the rest of it down on your own.

            Eric Margolis is an American journalist, a Republican, and a veteran.

            Most Americans believe their nation alone defeated Germany in World
            War II. Not so. Stalin's Soviet Union defeated the Third Reich, destroying
            100 German divisions in titanic battles on the Eastern front that made
            D-Day seem a minor battle. By the time U.S. forces landed in Europe,
            Germany was almost defeated, without a navy, air force or oil.
            http://www.ukemonde.com/news/art5.html

          • IN ONE OF HIS FAMOUS SPEECHES Churchill asked America 'Give us the tools and we will finish the job'. But America wouldn't 'give' anything without payment. After two years of war, Roosevelt had drained Britain dry, stripping her of all her assets in the USA, including real estate and property. The British owned Viscose Company, worth £125 million was liquidated, Britain receiving only £87 million. Britain's £1,924 million investments in Canada were sold off to pay for raw materials bought in the United States. To make sure that Roosevelt got his money, he dispatched the American cruiser, 'Louisville ' to the South African naval base of Simonstown to pick up forty two million Pounds worth of British gold, Britain's last negotiable asset, to help pay for American guns and ammunition. Not content with stripping Britain of her gold and assets, in return for 50 old World War 1 destroyers, (desperately needed by Britain as escort vessels) he demanded that Britain transfer all her scientific and technological secrets to the USA.

          • Thank you.

          • Ping.

            Now returning to the actual topic here.

          • Oops…one went missing

            Lord Beaverbrook was later to exclaim 'The Japanese are our relentless enemies, and the Americans our un-relenting creditors'.

            And this
            http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6331897

        • These comments are completely off topic, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is not to respond to Emily, but I can’t stand such an egregious denial of history.

          Three macro factors contributed to the Allied victory in the Second World War:

          1. Britain (with support from Canada and Lend/Lease from the U.S) preventing the German invasion of the U.K in 1940-41.

          2. The Soviet defeat of the Germans on the Eastern front

          3. American industrial capacity and manpower in the liberation of Europe.

          Without #1 the war would have been abortively over.
          Without #2 the Germans probably could have negotiated for some type of peace with large control of Eastern Europe
          Without#3 the allies would not have had the resources to liberate Europe. The Soviets would have had no interest in freeing France, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Greece. Europe would have been split between Nazis and Communists rather than democrats and communists, post-war.

          • Yes, they are completely off topic. Distraction from the actual topic is popular around here.

            The US did not win WWII….and everyone paid dearly for 'lend-lease'. It broke Britain in fact, and was only paid off in the last couple of years Blair was in power.

            Germany wasn't about to invade Britain….they could have stopped the evacuation of Dunkirk, but did not.

            Of course the US had industrial capacity….they hadn't been fighting….they claimed to be neutral and sold weaponry to everyone.

            As it is, the Soviets gained control of eastern Europe. Which gained us another 50 years of useless warfare both cold and hot.

            Showing up at the last minute with fresh supplies after a kick in the a*s is what the US contributed. Contrary to popular belief, John Wayne didn't do it all by himself.

          • No where did I say the U.S exclusively won the Second World War. Britain and the Empire and the Soviets and United States won the Second World War.

            Point #3 which you didn't really address, was that without American industrial capacity the allies would not have had the resources to liberate Europe. There was no way the British even with the whole empire behind them and American loans was going to be able to do it. Again, in case I'm not being clear, I'm not saying the American's did it on their own, but the Allies could not have had the overwhelming victory we did without them.

            Also, you aren't giving the Americans and President Roosevelt nearly enough credit for choosing a German first strategy despite being attacked in the pacific by Japan. To many Americans in 1941 choosing to go to Europe first after Pearl Harbor looked like attacking Iraq in response to 9/11 did to many modern day Americans, except that in 1941 it was the right choice.

            Your denial of the American contribution to the war is simply typical of Canadian anti-Americanism.

          • Roosevelt and the Allies were incredibly lucky in that Hitler declared war on the U.S. a day or so after Pearl Harbor, so that Roosevelt and the Allies could pursue a "Germany-first" policy. Hitler was under no obligation to do so; his treaty with Japan was defensive only. And Hitler was incredibly stupid and naive to take on another powerful adversary at the very moment that his forces were being brought to a halt in Russia.

        • So who did, then?

    • I guess we can't count on you vacationing in Florida this winter, eh?

  4. There is an old Republican saying that “a government strong enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have.”

    To that I say yes, let us keep centralized power to a minimun, especially when it comes to enforced taxation and the waging of war, but controlling the possession and use of guns is a small price to pay to reduce the impact crazy people have on American politics.

    It seems the shooter in Arizona was jumped while trying to reload. If he had not acquired a gun capable of holding thirty rounds fewer people would have be shot. Though I dislike guns i guess there are many who worship them, so maybe instead of banning them entirely we should just clamp down on the kinds that are available (ie target the manufacturers). And, as Potter implies, keep these restrictions in place and well-enforced.

    • The thing is that a 31 shot mag in an hand gun is, to use a woefully accurate term, overkill for anything you'd use it for outside of military or policing scenarios. A target shooter is not likely going to run off 31 consecutive shots and no one in their right mind uses handguns for hunting – nor should need 31 shots if they were to do so.

      But, "home defense" is a massive sales angle in the US – to the point you'd have to wonder where it is these people think they live, Afghanistan? Because of this, pushing otherwise pointless junk like massive mags is great upsell so the industry pushes back hard against things which attack their profit centres.

  5. Or, as a comedian once joked, price bullets at $1000 apiece. Surely then the wealthy could still afford to protect their property from the night prowler while the average loony would be plain out of luck:) If the extra expense in purchasing bullets went into coffers specifically designated for mental health programs, then at least the rich loony assassins would help pay for their own incarceration and possible rehabilitation.

    Interesting factoid: >>As of July 29 of last year, Arizona became one of only three states that allows its citizens to carry concealed weapons without a permit<< http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/11/01

    • You have a really interesting idea. $1000 is a bit much, but a taxation on bullets that would make them nearly unfordable would be a great idea.

      • An interesting point, that flops in practice… if you have $1000 bullets or even just heavily taxed bullets, the black market would fill the void… just look at cancer sticks.

        • the black market would fill the void..

          heck go straight to the source…sneak into the homes of wealth gun owners, kill them first then take their bullets.

  6. Now is not the time for political vitriol or finger-pointing, we must address the real issues at hand: gun control and Health Care. Here's a youtube video which explains:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elLwP0vf4EU

  7. Still remember my first trip to Florida in the early '70's. One of the popular tourist items was a T-shirt "See Miami like a native" – with a picture of an AK-47 on the front. Every mall had gun shops, even the Sunday morning flea markets had tables selling guns. Whole different attitude down there. Most of my American cousins have some kind of gun – no different to them than a flashlight.

    It is the lack of laws for a permit or license that blows me away.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/intera

    • further to and supporting this comment on lax gun laws in Florida:
      I am a Canadian citizen and resident.
      In the late 1980's I had need to purchase a handgun – for what I suggest was an actual honest and legitimate purpose.
      (This wasn't to be taken to Canada, although I certainly could have if I'd wanted)
      At that time, the only restriction on purchasing handguns in Fla was that you needed to be a resident of the state and I think there was a 3 day cooling off period.
      That obstacle was easily overcome as fortunately our family owned a winter residence near Fort Lauderdale.
      I was able to secure a Florida drivers license which demonstrated residence with nothing more than a copy of our electric bill.
      That's it -> I could now purchase handguns and AK47's and Uzi's en-masse without restriction.
      I started shopping around at stores such as K-Mart and national sporting goods chains, there was no lack of selection.
      Good news for me, my need for the handgun evaporated and the purchase was not completed.

    • furthermore I have to say;
      To all my American family, friends and business associates;
      YOUR GUN LAWS and POLITAL CLIMATE OF FEAR AND HATRED HAVE REACHED THE POINT OF SHEER MADNESS.

      As well, of course you can draw a logical conclusion between the idiocy of American style conservatism such as Sarah Palin's poison and these insane actions such as the Tucson shootout.
      Maybe this isn't straight line but the connection is as obvious to me as anything I've ever seen.

      Of course all this is bred into the genetics of culture of the Good Ol' USA.
      Ever been to the visit the town of Tombstone and the OK Corral?
      …and don't get me started on the health care issue…

  8. The real problem is lax liberal laws pertaining to those with mental problems and Democrats who look the other way. Loughner had a number of run-ins with the police and there was extensive evidence that he had a mental problem. If the Democrat sheriff had done his job instead trying to play politician Loughner would have been prohibited from legally buying that gun. It wasn't the rules that were the problem, it was the lack of application of them.

    • Ed, You have a very good point, but, that said, I would rather target the right to bear arms than strengthen the abilitity of the state to institutionalize individuals–of course I must admit I am biased here since I'm a bit looney myself and was certainly no saint in my past.

  9. A "well-regulated militia" indeed.

    • I'm truly curious what the authors of the Second Amendment would say today….

      Just as reference, at the time of ratification of the amendment (1791), to bear arms, in terms of a weapon, essentially meant a musket or perhaps a rifle. Samuel Colt wouldn't be born for another 23 years, his revolver wouldn't come to fruition until the 1830s and the Gattling gun would not be developed for about 20 to 30 years beyond the revolver's development.

  10. let them go back to Gangs of New York. To kill men at close quarters with a knife or axe is quite different than using an automatic weapon. And much less "co-lateral damage". But given our species propensity towards more efficient ways of killing I don't think this is going to happen. Sad but true

    • Excellent link, thanks. Even the best trained police officer sometimes kills accidentally, and I am sure the average person packing pistols is more likely to make mistakes. As to the deterrence factor, knowing that audience members may be armed might dissuade a reasonable assassin, but how many are that?

    • thanks for the recommendation, I hadn't heard that side of the story yet, and I will be passing it along!

    • You're right, everyone should definitely read that. It's so obvious that that would happen. Gunmen bursts into store and tells everyone to get down on their hands and knees, six people pull out guns and begin shooting, no one knows who is good and who is bad and lots of people are dead. Crazy.

    • And what was Sarah Palin thinking when she commented?
      It sounds to me that she read a prepared text with a phrase that she could not even comprehend.
      Blood Libel!! Are you kidding me?
      Indeed, she isn't even worth this typeface except that I am afraid she has traction among a certain fringe group of gun carrying reactionaries.

    • So true… Let's give everyone a gun and a pocket full of Qualudes.

  11. if people with mental illness are no more likely to commit crime, why are they disproportionately represented in prison populations? This is not to say that people with mental illness who are following a course of treatment cannot live succesful lives (thankful to have family members doing exactly this).

  12. When Sarah Palin's church was set ablaze, it was widely reported as arson. When the people were killed in Tucson, it was widely blamed on Sarah Palin. The punditry down here is kind of asymmetrical, if you get my drift.

    Now, some here want to quickly make laws restricting certain liberties based on a misrepresentation of the acts of an insane man. They can't un-ring the bell of their stated political motives. I realize that laws can be based on a mis-representation (…I'm an American). I can also acknowledge that our laws are made by insane people (…I was alive in 2010). The combo of misrepresentation and insane is a stretch .. too nuanced … just sayin'.

    We still may not have the whole story on this. But it is not to say the US couldn't learn a thing or two about governance from Canada. Clearly we could.

  13. The first sentence of this post was enough. It was meta-stupid. A self-aware stupid. Punch you in the face stupid. Stupid…talking down to stupid. Stupid, wrapped in stupid, inside of stupid.

    Sorry. I usually leave better comments than this, but sometimes you just gotta giv'er.

  14. More screening sounds good but I doubt its efficacy. The ex-commander of Canada's largest airbase no doubt went through a plethora of psychological tests–especially since he piloted planes with the Queen of England aboard–but then… "I can't believe he turned out to be a rapist and murderer"!

    • There is no problem in conceding your point, and then pointing out that most (all?) of the mass murderers in recent American (and Canadian) history emphatically were NOT the "I can't believe he turned out…" type. While universal mental health screening may still miss the Russell Williams' of this world, they would most likely still identify everyone else. Perhaps there will still be mass murders in America, but instead of there being 20 every year, there would be 1 every year.

      • I will concede your point, in principle, though I doubt the rate of homicides with guns would drop to one twentieth of present levels. But any reduction would be good, eh?

  15. Great article, Potter. Spot on analysis as always. I enjoy your books so write another one.

  16. The author's rantings are inconsistent. First off, politics had nothing to do with the shootings. The chap didn't read papers, or watch tv, or listent to talk radio, or even read McLeans. And then it was the left that immediately tried to tie this into conservatives, and in particular Palin's target website. Don't tell anyone that the Democrats initiated using targets several elections ago.I could go on, but I won't bother.

    Regarding guns, the chap could have used explosives. What would the author do then, ban explosives? Or he could have taken an SUV and ran down the congresswomen. What would you do then? Or he could have ……

    • He also had the Communist Manifesto in his posession–inflammatory material, if there ever was such a thing.

      The car-as-weapon method works. An Indo-Canadian man used this technique, some years ago, to kill a girl coming from a party. Palestinian terrorists and even an angry man in California (the 'Killdozer' incident) used vehicles as weapons. And plain old guns are easy to either buy from gangs, or make yourself.

  17. Commentary is useless. Look at the facts & statistics.

    Almost 80% of gun-related deaths in both the U.S. & Canada are suicides. That's the real danger of gun ownership. Canada's number of gun-related deaths, in proportion to its population, is no lower than the U.S.'s. These shootings happen in Canada, too (Dawson College, etc.).

    Strict gun control laws do not necessarily lead to less gun violence. Look at Mexico's VERY strict gun control laws, but high incidence of gun violence. There is a strong connection between gun violence & the illegal drug trade, so there are a lot of illegal guns circulating. Switzerland requires all male citizens between the ages of 20 and 34 to own a firearm, but no one questions that country's lack of gun control.

    The facts are that males commit most of the gun violence. The best gun control is to keep firearms out of the hands of males.

    • Your comparison for gun related deaths between Canada and the U.S. are not correct. Accordning to a Stats Canada study, the rate of gun homicides in the U.S. in 2000 was almost 8 times higher than in Canada.

      • StatsCan doesn't include suicides.

    • So, all males in Switzerland between 20-34 have guns………..But the Swiss have very little gun violence…….SO, gun control is useless, BUT, keeping guns away from males is the answer??????

      It is important to note what percent of homicides are caused by guns, not that 80% of gun related deaths are suicides. Although suicides can be prevented in some cases, the person in question has a multitude of options available to kill THEMSELVES other than guns. Guns are pure an simple , tools for death do not delude yourself, this is all they do. They permit people to kill at a distance and kill many.

      Removing all guns will not stop murders or even rampages, it will just decrease them and limit the carnage when they happen. But clearly we cannot do that….right….i mean…..its…illogical….yup…….

      Gun registration, background checks, references, psychological testing and limits on weapon types allowed should be part of any sane and forward thinking society. Why, or what do you need to hunt with an AK-47, MAC -10, or a .50cal sniper rifle. Honestly are these people #$#@*& serious?

      • Typical response from a guy!

        • what is typical about my reply? that its logical?

    • Switzerland's gun control laws are being questioned. The Swiss are considering not allowing men to take their firearms home with them after they complete military service. There is gun violence in Switzerland also – although likely not as much as in the US., and it isn't as widely reported. Domestic violence and suicides are part of the problem, and obviously having a gun in the house makes it easier and quicker to inflict more damage (more than a knife, or an axe for example).

  18. Actually most of them didn't. Most of them have evolved over long periods of time, and certainly there was violence, civil wars etc….has been since cave days, but it's decreased greatly in recent centuries.

    Nation-states are new in the world ya know. And we are now moving away from them again.

    Japan was Japan before WWII, and Canada came into being at a table where people negotiated and agreed.

    America is noted for it's violence….other western countries don't have the political assassinations, not to mention the street violence on a daily basis that the US does.

    Am I damaging your cultural beliefs?

    • The United States also evolved over a long period of time. It wasn't terra nullius and all of a sudden there was a war and then there was a country. The modern incarnation of every country on that list, except for Canada and Russia came into being through civil war and or revolution. That's a fact. Obviously there was a country there before but those conflicts but they changed those places as much or more than the American revolution.

      Canada came into being at a table, yes, but they wouldn't have made the decisions the made, when they made them without the violence of 1837 and Canada would be a very different place without Riel.

      Yes, I do know that nation states are new, that's kind of the point, almost every nation state came into being through violence.

      Japan had the same name prior to WWII but the country was changed more than, say, the US by their revolution.

      I probably should just give this up and recognize that you can't outsmart crazy.

      • The US is 235 years old. China is 5000 years old.

        Canada didn't come into being because of 1837, or Riel. The US invaded us 5X though, so that was certainly a factor.

        Japan hasn't changed much since the pre-war years….they just have better electronics. LOL

        You have no facts. Just your 'crazy'.

        • The present socio-political incarnation of China is only a little over 60 years old, although its cultural heritage does go back maybe 4000 years. The present incarnation of the U.S. is about 145 years old (back to the victory of the Union in the Civil War, and the passage of several Constitutional amendments thereafter), but its cultural heritage also goes back nearly 4000 years– to ancient Mycenae and Judea.

      • Ping

  19. Made me think of the words to France's National Anthem – no violence there, lol!

    Let's go children of the fatherland,
    The day of glory has arrived!
    Against us tyranny's
    Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
    In the countryside, do you hear
    The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
    They come right to our arms
    To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!
    http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa071400ma

  20. Damn, and they cant buy a Kinder surprize

    • Good one!

    • Yeah, but the Kinder Surprises are a serious foreign threat!
      Sadly, in actuality, the chocolate and the toy might calm killers down….

  21. Republicans are just upset that their excuse (he killed them because of rock music) for random acts of violence doesn't cut it anymore. Remember Columbine? It was Marilyn Manson's fault. Well, this time it's Sarah Palin's fault. Both are meaningless, but gives us something to take our minds off the tragedies.

  22. 1% of the mentally ill are violent, which translates to 40,000 in the U.S. Canada is proportionally the same, that only by their wishes or until they break the law can they be committed or if they do not want medication no one can make them take is a form of insanity in itself.

    • That is absolutely incorrect. Each province in Canada has a "Mental Health Act". In Alberta any person who poses a danger to themselves or others or has a diminished quality of life; suffers from a mental illness & is not suitable for admission to a hospital as a voluntary patient can and is certified and held in a psychiatriac facility. If the person refuses treatment, a treatment order is then persued and the person receives injectable medication. In the meantime, if they become violent while certified they are given sedatives and anti-psychotics via injection. I really do not know about your statistics regarding 1% of the mentally ill being violent. As I said earlier, it is proven that they have no higher incidence of violence than the regular population.

  23. The Conservatives are to blame, stopping gun control and showing little interested in the mentally ill.
    1. There should be much stricter gun control laws as the situation now is disgusting.
    2. Mentally ill people should not be allowed to freely walk the streets.
    Even if their illness is diagnosed, how can you count on them taking their antipsychotic drugs! They should be monitored by their doctors, and picked up by the police if not taking their medication and put back in an institution for treatment.
    This may sound harsh, and simple, but we are talking about people that are psychotic and can't tell right from wrong.
    To think that these people can buy a gun, take no medication and go on 'drugs' boggles the mind.
    What is wrong with America!

    • Many people who have had a psychotic episode religiously take their medications. Most people with those illnesses are followed by psychiatrists for at least 3 years after their first episode. Depending on their diagnosis, they may be able to go off of the medications as they may never have another psychotic episode. Otherwise, they will likely have to stay on the medications for life. There are patients who don't believe they are ill and frequently go off of their medications, returning to hospital over and over. In Alberta, we now have outpatient treatment orders for those patients. They have to be on injectable medications and can be picked by police if they miss a dose. They are not the norm. however. It is unfortunate that you erroneously believe the myth that mentally ill people pose a greater danger to you than anyone else "freely walking the streets". If a psychotic person yells something out, it is because he/she is usually responding to a voice that he/she hears in his/her head. They have probably not even noticed your there.

    • I was referring to the US. not Canada, where there is 'socialized medicine', gun control and fewer street drugs.

      No doubt there are many untreated psychotics walking the streets of America, with access to guns and street drugs, and don't tell me that that is not dangerous! (We know there are psychopaths as well but that is another story. They cannot really be helped so are even more dangerous.)
      The 'Republicans' seem to be against any kind of gun control, many people have no access to medical care and 'drugs' are rampant.

      Let's face the facts, as only then can things be improved.

    • You can't start restricting who is allowed to "walk the streets" or be in public. That's discrimination and once you start down that path, there's no telling where it would stop. Besides, if criminals who've served their time (or are on parole) are allowed that right, how can you take it away from someone because they might be a liability to public safety some day.

      • Why are you so blinded! What is wrong with a psychotic, not taking his medication, on street drugs and maybe having a gun, be taken off the streets!!
        Because of people with your thinking, society is not improving. What are you afraid of? Discrimination is ok if it's necessary.
        Criminals who have 'served their time' have nothing to do with what I am talking about.
        And as far as that goes, a lot of crimimals who have 'served thier time' should NOT be 'walking the streets'.

        • Discrimination is OK if it is necessary…. oh boy, you do not want to go down that path……Take a history course PLEASE and pay attention in class……

    • Sheilagh, given your comments, you scare me more than those who are mentally ill, I think then you should be taken off the streets because you scare me. Oh! Wait! Who exactly would make these decisions about rights and privileges under our constitution, be it Canada or USA? Maybe I don't like you so I would just take you off the streets.

      Come on. The post above misses the point.

      • What is your problem, why should you be 'scared' of me.
        I am saying that 'dangerous' people should be 'taken off the streets'. Are you one ot them?
        The authorities, with the help of the scientific, legal and medical profession should make the decisions.
        Who sets the laws and makes the legal decisions now, for instance are you allowed to exceed the speed limit or break into a store. Someone made these laws.
        Lets fact it. People are NOT free to do what they want, as you would like, as there would be nothing but chaos.
        FACE THE FACTS!

        • embrace the chaos lol

        • So.. when are you starting up the new eugenics program Dr. Mengele?

  24. Another left wing liar passing himself off as a journalist. I guess he means todays version of the trade–yellow journalists to the extreme. To suggest the politics of hate started after Obama was elected would make Hitlers propganda machien want this guy. I guess he didn't read any of the hate spewingl froml his left wing lunatic buddies in the American media or the equally wing nut celebrities who daily wanted Bush dead. What a scum liar he is. To allow this writer to bastardize free speech is playing havoc with our democracy.

    • The US does not have a democracy, what you have is rule by Aristocracy. You need to find yourselves a Solon type guy.

    • That I guess was an example of a rational, well thought out riposte to an opposing point of view? Nope just an example of how the political rhetoric has descended into the cesspool.
      If anyone is bastardising free speech then it is probably this commenter.

  25. Here we go again. Another mass killing, another demand to beat up on duck hunters and farmers. if we can kick the "right-wing" so much the better.

    • Gun control does not ,mean NO guns. it means no guns with 30+ rounds, submachine guns, and a walk in walk out with a 30 round Glock in your hand….

      Come on ,use sensible arguments……By the way i never saw a duck that could take more than 5 rounds of .303 cal

    • Lance, can't you see the forest from the trees!
      No one is beating up on the duck hunters and farmers, we are talking about psychopaths and untreated psychotics.
      I am sure there can be much stricter laws against guns that still allow for recreational shooting.
      Why can't you see this, or are you one of the psychos?
      Please try to see 'reality'.

    • I've been ducking hunting, never took a handgun. I think you might be doing it wrong.

        • LMFAO i was good at that game

  26. Untreated seriously mentally people (SMI) are the root cause of these sad events. Society must pass appropriately wise laws to ensure this dangerous sociial problem is corrected. We must pass laws to allow intervention when there are reasonable signs of danger with a deranged person.____Llet's provide more public education to dispel the myths that surround schizophrenia so people will understand the reality of SMI and the need for timely and appropriate treatment .__ __It's better to prevent harm than to ignore the possibility. It is better to protect lives of the SMI and all of society rather than downplay the potential danger.____It's a new legal concept for society but it is the only way to ensure we will not continue facing these too-frequent horrors..____The best long term solution is to do the scientific brain research that could lead to a cure for these cruel,and age-old ravages of schizophrenia, manic depression and related psychoses that are so rampant in society.____Carefully conducted scientific research is our best safeguard againt human error. This would dispel the myths that muddy the waters of a true understanding of all SMI. ____Lets do the right thing and get on with this research now. __ .

  27. Brian, obviously restrictions are never entirely effective. However, drugs are produced by many, many criminals. Guns, however, are produced by a relatively few manufacturers that would much easier to control. If nothing else, those companies should be required to pay (more?) for gun education, screening and enforceement programs.

    Besides, what are your suggestions? Do nothing?

    • The author isn't asking for suggestions, he's upset that the Democrats aren't using this tragedy sufficiently to make political hay.

      Notwithstanding this, and the fact that suggestions on internet comment boardsrarely inform decision making or policy, my own belief is that restrictions / bans on guns do little to solve these massacres. see: columbine, virginia tech, fort hood where guns were restricted or banned. In fact, these massacres are not unique to the United States or countries where access to guns is widely availble – Canada, Britan, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Australia have all had their share of similar incidents over the past 10 years….despite heavy restrictions and outright bans on firearms.

      Obviously, there is no easy answer, otherwise we would have been able to prevent this. What we do know, is that the answer is not in more gun laws. Certainly, we need to do a better job monitoring and screening and helping the mentally ill who are at risk of violence. What we do know, with absolute certainty, is that Mr. Potter's ill-informed, divisive and partisan hackery is not helpful.

      • The mentally-ill guy walked into the store, bought this gun, and then killed six people. Sorry, but some gun control is needed in Arizona.

        Yes, these massacres take place in other jurisdictions, but in jurisdictions where they have half-decent gun control, they don't happen NEAR as often. I don't think we, or any other country, should be taking pointers from Arizona on how we should be handling our gun control.

  28. Why do Americans need a gun that can fire 30 bullets without reloading? There is no plausible reason.

    • That way you can take out the whole herd – deer of course. Think increased productivity.

  29. “…the climate of vitriol and hate that has consumed American politics..” That should be …since the Democrats tried to hijack to Florida vote in 2000.

  30. A Republican congressman, Peter King, has said he will introduce legislation banning guns from being carried within 1,000 feet of a federal official.

    Ooooooh. THAT will stop someone with murderous intent. Oh wait, maybe it won't. So you know what? Maybe we should introduce legislation forbidding the killing of people. Phew. If one of those laws doesn't work, at least we can sleep soundly knowing the other will.

    Maybe you can't outsmart crazy. But I don't get why some people need to outcrazy it.

    • And why only federal officials?

    • Also, this proposed legislation seems a bit ironic when put against some of the background associated with the Second Amendment….

      I gather that there are two historical backgrounds that led to the Second Amendment – a pure self defense justification, but also the perceived need at the time to maintain a cache of arms (so to speak) that would be distributed amongst the adult white males of the day in a militia. The intent of the militia was to ensure that the people would always be in a position to collectively defend themselves against nefarious government actions. Presumably those government actions that might need to be opposed by this militia would be carried out by federal officials, so restricting citizens from carrying arms within 1000 feet of federal officials would seem to contradict one of the intents of the amendment.

      But sure, I suppose that when King refers to federal officials he likely just means elected officials……looking out for number one indeed.

  31. More incoherent, extreme left ideological ranting from a so called "journalist". Never heard of the politics of hate and fear until Obummer was elected, conveniently forgetting the "Kill Bush", Bush is Hitler" rhetoric that was spewed by the lefty media on a daily basis. The lefty media mouthpieces still trying to gain some political traction on the back of a horrific tragedy, while continuing to polarize debate. It seems to me that this lefty rant from Potter is based on anger and impotence at the failure of the lefty narrative failing to incite the hatred and intolerance against their selected targets, Palin and all non leftys. Slithering this tragedy into a rant about "gun control' in the USA is a nice deflection technique but like the "Blame Bush, blame Palin for everything narrative it's equally specious. "This year will go down in history! For the first time a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future"! Adolph Hitler.

  32. Dear Mr. Potter,

    Please go back to Hogwarts, your schooling is clearly incomplete and your bumbling, left-wing nonsense does more harm then good.

    Crazy, angry, mentally unstable people can and will use every single object known to man to cause harm to others, and if you go back far enough they used their bare hands or rocks and sticks. The old saying that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is so widely stated because of the simple fact that it is a FACT.

    When Potter puts forth statistics, he, like all nanny-state liars picks and chooses to support only his undereducated view. The US may have a high percentage of firearms ownership but they also have a LOWER per-capita rate of violent crime than we, or ANY country with draconian gun laws does. This is a FACT! But why would a socialist like Potter let the facts get in the way?

    Want to know the safest States? Those that allow personal carry for personal protection. Why is that? Because most criminals are cowards and don't care for a level playing field.

    We can try all we want to weed the crazy people out of society but the fact of the matter is that these seemingly random acts of violence are, percentage-wise, non-starters. Look at the US population and you'll find that you are more likely to win a lottery or get hit by lightening than find yourself involved in a mass-shooting like this. Besides, it is the LEFT WING nuts that like to keep crazy people out with the rest of society rather than securely locked away.

    The scary thing is just how great the lengths are that the left will go to step on the graves of the victims to further their misguided, delusional, gun AND societal control fantasies.

    Potter, you are a disgrace to journalism, and shame on Macleans for printing this tripe.

    • 'The old saying that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is so widely stated because of the simple fact that it is a FACT.'

      It's helluva lot easier for people with guns to kill other people than if they don't have guns.

      "Want to know the safest States? Those that allow personal carry for personal protection."

      I would LOVE to see where you got that little tidbit of information. Regardless, here in Canada, where we don't carry firearms for personal protection, we have far fewer gun-related deaths. The US has about 14 gun deaths per 100,000, Canada has about 4 per 100,000. For homocides, it's about 4 in the US per 100,000, and about .4 per 100,000.

      People with mental illness should not be able to easily acquire guns. Proof? Arizona.

    • Well said Chris

    • Where did you get those statistics???? They seem ……. stretched.

    • ''Crazy, angry, mentally unstable people can and will use every single object known to man to cause harm to others, and if you go back far enough they used their bare hands or rocks and sticks''

      That is a fact.

      But you will have to agree that it is a lot easier and a lot faster to kill people with a 9mm Glock and a 31 rounds clip than it is with a ice cube tray, a lawn ornament or a pillow case.

  33. What a lot of people are saying is that they want more laws.I say less Government and maybe this will not happen.

  34. Anybody who buys a gun, sane or insane, expects to use it. Sane people get angry and act insanely at times. This "mentally ill" take has nothing to do with the problem. Ban hand guns and this problem will go away.

    • Incorrect.

      If someone buys a gun, they may expect to use it for target practice, but that's it. Most gun owners are responsible and only have them for self-defense purposes. Not only do they not expect to use it, but they hope they never have to either.

      • mmmm…most gun owners are responsible….but don't want the hassle of filling out a few forms.

  35. Anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds with someone enduring a psychotic break caused by a mental illness will recognize the pattern of the bizarre, where "2 + 2 = 47 and if you don't understand that you're just not part of the 'secret society'." Those caught in the grip of this form of mental illness are not triggerred by anything rationally connected to the direction they pursue, but they are nonetheless very focused. Strangely, frequently, that focus involves perceived concentrations of power: the CIA, FBI, big government, big churches, UFO's and so on. Such mental illness rarely manifests itself as outward harm — in fact suicide seems to be the most frequent danger (perhaps fortunate for society, but not so for the souls who are afflicted). Loughner's actions certainly fit the pattern of someone mentally ill and over the next while a proper diagnosis will emerge. If indeed mental illness is the driving force here, then no "cause" will emerge. This will then turn out to be about a belief that "2 + 2 = 47", having no connection to Republicans, FOX, Sarah Palin, or Presidents Obama or Bush.

    • THE CAUSE IS THAT THE " MENTALY ILL " PUCHASED A GUN AND A WHOLE LOT OF AMO ! WHY ? YOUR RULES AND REGULATIONS ON GUNS !

  36. I live in Arizona, not far from Tucson, and it never ceases to amaze me that the majority of people I've known in the states see the answer to tragedies like this as a need for MORE GUNS. As if arming every single American will make the country a safer place.

  37. People with untreated serious mental ill (SMI) are the root causes of these events. ('untreated' is the operative word) Society must pass appropriate laws to ensure this dangerous sociial problem is corrected with laws to allow intervention when there are signs of danger in a deranged person.____And let's provide more public education to dispel the myths that surround schizophrenia so people will understand the reality of SMI…__ __Surely, it's's best to prevent harm and not ignore the possibity completely.____I realize this is is a new legal concept for society but it is the only way to prevent such terrible acts.____The best long term solution is scientific brain research uncover improved medical treatments and eventually to find the cure for these awful psychoses..____Carefully conducted scientific research is our best safeguard againt human error and will dispel the myths that muddy the waters of a finding the truth regarding SMI. ____Let's bring in science to do the right thing now.. __ .

  38. ALL YOU PEOPLE ARE CRAZY ! GUNS DONT KILL PEOPLE , PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE , TAKE THE GUNS FROM THE PEOPLE AND PROBLEM SOLVED !! YOU READ ABOUT IT TO MUCH WHEN SOME NUT JOB GOES INTO A CROWD OF PEOPLE AND FIRES OFF 10-12-30 ROUNDS KILLING INOCENT PEOPLE ! GIVE AN INBREED INBREED A GUN , HE KILLS PEOPLE !!

    • Or take the people from the guns….That is what they will say next….Or, I was attacked by a crazy duck that withstood 5 bullets……this wouldn't have happened if i had an AK

  39. After reading all this I thought to myself, hmmmm if god is watching this he has his finger on the reset button………No, he pressed it and got the " are you sure" press "ok" window…….Then he kept clicking on it but got " windows has performed illegal operation and must shut down please contact support",………Saved by Microsoft yet again lol

  40. Here, an actual quote from another article in Macleans…….. food for thought.

    The writer is a smart person.

    ""That's what happens when you run with a firearm to a scene of bloody havoc. In the chaos and pressure of the moment, you can shoot the wrong person. Or, by drawing your weapon, you can become the wrong person—a hero mistaken for a second gunman by another would-be hero with a gun. Bang, you're dead. Or worse, bang bang bang bang bang: a firefight among several armed, confused, and innocent people in a crowd. It happens even among trained soldiers. Among civilians, the risk is that much greater."""

    • Absolutely right, and as we have seen this week, it does not even have to be a real gun to get you shot.

  41. Absolutely. What terrifies people is that they may commit crimes under different circumstances then "normal" people, making them harder to predict.

  42. Good article and I like the reference to the Simpson episode, that was some awesome writing.

    ''America is not easy'' from the movie The American President. No it is not, and I have no idea how they could fix that. In a country of 300 millions, maybe it is acceptable to lose a few citizens now and then so that you can keep the (perceived) liberty to have a gun.

    And this statement has to be the most disturbing/laughable/stupid thing I have read in the last 40 years:

    ''A Republican congressman, Peter King, has said he will introduce legislation banning guns from being carried within 1,000 feet of a federal official.''

    I don't even know where to start on that one.

    • start 1000 feet out and move closer HA!

  43. We have stricter gun laws here in Canada but that doesn't stop the gangs from getting guns and shooting each other.

    • Stop the gangs from legally buying guns; problem solved.

  44. After a break in at Giffords office, she was quoted as saying..I own a gun and I'm a damn good shot. Since we like pinning the blame on everyone except the shooter, maybe she caused the ire of the shooter. He had met with her long before the Tea Party was formed and did not like her…so was it her own fault that she was shot??
    The Democrats believe that a tragedy must never go to waste..they proved that within 20 minutes of the shooting…blame Palin and the Tea Party…hoping to gain sympathy and increase Obama's standing in the polls. ..well I hope this back fires in their faces. As for the mentally ill, they have "rights"..they cannot be forced into treatment.

  45. Perhaps there is an alternate way to deal with violence, particularly violence by the mentally ill. Most reports indicate they are not on medication at the time of the crime they commit. Let them plead insanity, but find them criminally responsible because they refuse their medication. They then serve the time in a prison where they must receive their medication. Remember they only go to prison if they are found guilty of a violent crime while not on medication.

  46. After getting over my mad and re-reading Potters article again he does have some points on the ready availability of guns. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Do you follow the American path of easy access or the Canadian route of destroying the ability if not the rights of many honest citizens. It is always the Canadian way to punish the innocent in the vain hopes of contlrolling the guiltly. Left wingers like Potter love gun control, yet look at societys around the world, both current and past, who had gun control and it is/was a complete disaster. Unfortunately too many journalists want the 'Walt Disney' world. It ain't ever gonna happen. We are animals whether we want to admit it or not. I'll opt for the ability to protect myself. If he wants to trust a police force that is more closely associated with terrorists gangs today than protectors I guess that is HIS right. Sad we can't seem to agree on much of anything any longer.

  47. Andrew Potter's commentary is a blatant smear of all political conservatives by painting them as gun loving, anti-health care nuts. He makes a good point about keeping guns away from crazy people and cites how easy it is to buy a gun in most American states, but then gets way off track by linking it to better access to mental health care and what he considers inflammatory political rhetoric. Instead of smug finger pointing, take a look at Canada. We have severely restrictive gun control laws that make ordinary citizens criminals if they don't register hunting guns but are toothless in controlling access to illicit guns that make their way into the hands of criminals and gangs that are responsible for many of the shootings in Canada. We also have a universal health care system that is in serious need of repair. We cannot deal properly with emergency care, let alone long waiting lists for MRIs, CT scans, and surgeries so how, exactly, would we find, diagnose, and properly treat the crazy individuals he refers to in his rant. Thanks to human rights campaigners, we now often leave mentally ill people untreated and often homeless. How is this better than what occurs in the United States? Stick to making individuals responsible for their criminal actions rather than trying to score ideological and political points based on your own personal prejudices, Mr. Potter.

    • Each year through continuous screening; approx 2,000 people have their firearm licence revoked. That's a lot of people who can't be bothered to register their shotgun or is that why they had their firearm licence revoked?

      Each year, in Canada there's approx over 400,000 firearms being transferred to new owners. A firearm must be legally transferred whenever it is sold, traded or given to someone else. The registration information must be updated to indicate the new owner, if he or she lives in Canada.
      You believe the authorities shouldn't be able to link a firearm to the firearm owner. Approx 400,000 firearms a year unaccounted for; how many would fall into the wrong hands?

      Spare me the registration cost too much and doesn't save lives; routine.

  48. For every 'crazy' killer, there are ten who murder for perfectly 'sane' reasons, like profits. This is what's going on in Arizona, where Mexican gangs have established such a presence that gangland shootings, many involving bystanders, generate body counts as bad as the Loughner incident. Yet the international press ignores the issue, along with the fact that Phoenix is now America's kidnap-capital, and carjackings, muggings and home invasions by Mexican gangsters are so commonplace that many Arizonians won't leave home without a gun. Yet the only response from the Obama administration is to try to take away a valuable law enforcement tool in the fight against these gangs (SB 1070) away from Arizona.

    Loughner's actions weren't any more 'political' than the attempted assasination of Ronald Reagan, by a killer (John Hinckley) who tried to impress a starlet (Jodie Foster). It appears Loughner had a crush on Giffords, as he had correspondence with her in his posession. The Sheriff's Department also had DEATH THREATS from Loughner on file, but didn't bother arresting him…likely what was behind Sheriff Dupnik's blame-laying on Arizona's 'bigotry' as a damage-control move. And Obama's administration is using the incident to justify shutting down debate and criticism of its immigration policies. The real American quirk, here, isn't gun control, but an electoral system which considers voter-ID 'racist,' hence allowing illegal aliens to vote in elections. From fighting SB 1070, to pushing the Dream Act, the Democrats are pandering to the illegal alien vote, and talk of 'civilising' politics, in the wake of this shooting, is a way to deflect attention from their intentions.

  49. Quit trying to make this a mental health issue. For every nutjob like Loughner, there are dozens of 'sane' killers, motivated by things like drug turf. In Arizona, shootouts between rival gangs claim many victims, including bystanders, but this never gets much press coverage outside the State. Most of the perps are illegals, which Obama and many Democrats (and a few Republicans) coddle as potential voters. And the Sheriff's Department never bothered to arrest Loughner for making death threats–something which WOULD have prevented this shooting. The fact of the matter is that a mentally-ill person is less likely to commit a violent crime than a 'sane' person…especially drug dealers, carjackers kidnappers and thugs in the country illegally.

  50. "Less well known is that the U.S. also has, by far, the highest rates of serious mental illness in the world. A 2004 study by the WHO …."
    This WHO report dealt with results from 13 countries, and one city (Beijing),with some 900 million population. My almanac lists over 190 countries in the world, and a population of 6.5 billion +. So to say the U.S. has the highest rate of mental illness "in the world" is a considerable distortion, at best. Interestingly, neither Canada nor Australia, the two countries probably most similar to the U.S., were among the 13.
    The study was based on interviews with some 60,000 families in the countries involved, not on any institutional or governmental reporting. The researchers themselves cautioned that people in many cultures are reluctant to speak of mental illness, believing it to carry a social stigma. The researchers believed that this might explain the low rates reported in some countries. Conversely, they noted that in the U.S. mental problems are widely publicized, which might account for the U.S.' high score.
    Your comment about U.S. mental illness rates is misleading, to say the least.

  51. You don't pull your punches AP – it's one of the things i like about you.
    The left has become gutless; increasingly here in this country too! How did we get there. How did we allow ourselves to become so cowed by the right? Perhaps the're right about lefties and liberals – we don't even know when to take a stand on our own principles?

    • Your principles presumably being, "people getting shot is bad," or what?

      • Hardly a principle, and a view shared by most reasonable people – left or right. I was referring to the liberal tendency these days to adopt cowardly fall back positions for fear of actually having to take a potentially unpopular stand – i despise political cowardice.

        • Yes your lack of reference was my point. I'm still not sure to what your getting at though, I'm assuming that it's guns should in some form be more restricted. Or is it that you agree with the author that the left should be callously milking the human tragedy for political gain? Which as far as I understand it, is not really a principle… or one would hope.

  52. Potter's snap judgement before information is verified is highlighted in the first 4 paragraphs. This has proven to be wholly incorrect; yet no addenda or updates, let alone redrawing conclusions. People like Philip Tetlock would call Potter a hedgehog. That's a shame.

  53. Andrew Potter couldn't be bothered to look up the actual capacity of a Glock magazine. It is -not- 31 rounds. There is no such thing as a 31 round mag for anything, anywhere. Given that piece of lazy incompetence, the quality of the rest of his comments regarding mental illness, guns and America in general is at best dubious.

    Come on Maclean's, this is the kind of guy you pay to fill your pages? Not just ignorant, but can't do a thirty second google? Are you kidding me?

  54. The article is very good but maybe there is one problem with the data. I remember reading an article that the psychietries doctors society in USA is every year extending the definition of mental illness, so for example children in first year elementary school which cannot sit all the time in the bench which is more or less normal are now proclaimed not normal so they have to take medication to make money for the psychietries. So basically in USA the number of mental illness is higher because the criteria is lower.

  55. I blame this all on the Lich King……no no the burning legion …umm no that crazy dragon …oh wait no , thats a video game …there i go again confusing reality.

    The above was a stupid and pointless statement. Like a lot of the arguments on why gun control is bad…..and how the democrats are somehow benefiting from this and that its the fault of Sarah Palin……seriously ……come on

    Where is logic when we need it…

  56. i agree with you except for the part of Canadian governments wanting to create the same here…

    No right wing here everyone is slight left or right of center..We cant help it we relate everything to hockey.

    Where's my beer….

  57. As a clinical psychologist, I must say that I am absolutely appalled by the use of the term "crazies" in this article, in association with mental illness. This term reeks of prejudice and serves to promote intolerance. You should know better, Macleans.