Thursday, January 13, 2011
Fear and Mistrust of Strong Government
The murder of six people last Saturday in Tucson has brought out a discussion of actions that a strong government can and ought to take to prevent such things from happening again. Here are some of the suggestions:
- Impose strong restrictions on the availability of various types of firearm. In particular, ban the sale of weapons with magazines that hold many bullets.
- Tighten laws regarding the sequestering of persons with types of mental illness that may lead them to conduct shooting rampages.
- Provide personal protection and a degree of isolation for all elected public officials, not just the President. Screening would have removed the assassin's weapon before he was anywhere near Representative Giffords.
- Tone down the poisonous rhetoric from both sides of the political spectrum. Such rhetoric may inspire an otherwise peaceful but mentally unbalanced person to undertake an assassination.
It's politically impossible to impose a sufficiently strict ban on firearm sales and ownership to prevent another lunatic from obtaining a gun and setting out to kill an elected official. Conservatives would object loudly to such severe restrictions.
It is politically impossible to put every person with mental illness in an institution. There is the danger that unscrupulous judges may put innocent and sane individuals away because of political opposition. Liberals would object loudly to laws that enable judges to put people away because of fear that they might do something, whether sane or not.
Screening and metal detectors for every member of Congress doesn't sound practical. It is important that a member of Congress be approachable by any constituent, even one who disagrees with the member.
Toning down the rhetoric is a nice idea and I'm all in favor of it. How do we square limitations on what can be said about a political opponent with the first amendment?
It's a quandary.
Labels: Tucson shooting