The Arizona shootings have been a tragedy for America.
The question exorcising many commentators around the world at the moment is 'why did this happen?'. Peter Black in hig blog here, commenting on an article in yesterday's The Observor, makes the point that the heightened tension in the US political arena, stoked by the rheotic of the Tea Party movement may have a role to play. But whilst I vehemently detest Sarah Palin, her extremist views and the way in which she inflames the tensions with her words, we can not presume that this in itself led to the incident on Saturday.
Yes, the political climate in the USA is now as bad, as polluted and as toxic as it probably ever has been but then we've had public shootings and massacres in the USA for years and years and years.
We must be careful, until we get the full facts, to not point accusing fingers, as much as the pit of our stomach would wish us to do so immediately.
The US Gun Lobby and a Sorry Story of 2nd Ammendment US Annihilation
The wider issue here comes back to the question of gun control and the strong belief held by many in the US of their right to bear arms as expressed in the 2nd ammendment to the US constitution as a part of the United States Bill of Rights.
As it reads: ."A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".
Well, taking the emotion out of it and looking at the bare facts, there have been 104 incidents of school shootings in the USA. There have only been 37 such similar incidents in the rest of the entire world (presuming that this information is 100% accurate).
Can any sane American honestly tell me that their gun legislation isn't making it easier for those who are mentally imbalanced to go to such deadly lengths when compared to the UK for example where the toughening up in the legislation after Dunblane has surely impacted positively on the fact that there has been no sequel?
After the Columbine Massacre of 1999 left 13 dead, there were another 28 school based gun related incidents before the Virginia Tech killings in 2007. Since then there have been a further 32 incidents.
These are merely the school induced incidents that have involved firearms. The incident that occured in Arizona on Saturday was not in a school-based environment. The figures above are merely then, the tip of the American iceberg.
So the gun laws aren't having an effect? Well, they're certainly not helping.
The Hope from 9/11 Washed Away in the American Love of the Gun
So we come full circle.
Now, that bright light in the shape of Christina Taylor Green, has been extinguished. Was she an innocent by-stander in a politically motivated incident or the unfortunate recipient of a deranged man's moment of madness? We do not yet know.
What we do know is that the incident occurred, not this time in a school, but in another everyday environment and occurred with the use of a firearm.
More Darkness for the Future
I hold no hope that politicians in the US will stand-up to the gun lobby and make the changes that are required. Indeed, I doubt that a majority of Americans would be willing to sacrifice their 2nd ammendment rights for the sake of the greater good.
This all means that no matter what happens abroad in countries across the world at the hands of American foreign policy in years to come, US domestic policy will continue to doom hundreds and thousands more of its own citizens to a tragic, desolate, harrowing, and unecessary death.