Shooting of congresswoman not isolated

To the editor:

I, like Speaker John Boehner, am horrified by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. However, in contrast to him, I believe that this tragedy is not unexpected. For several reasons, this is an all too frequent occurrence.

This time a House member was shot; tomorrow it could be a senator or two dozen school kids.

This attack occurred at an Arizona shopping center; next time it could occur at an Oregon mall or school.

Many are asking why? The level of partisanship, hatred and political acrimony that exists today rivals that of any other time in our nation's history -- including the early days of our republic, when Vice President Aaron Burr murdered Alexander Hamilton in a duel, the days before the Civil War, or the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which saw the assassinations of Presidents McKinley and Garfield.

I'm amazed, given the level of hatred and epithets hurled back and forth, especially emanating from the far right, that Democrats were not assassinated before the last election.

Second, look at the level of gun ownership in the United States today -- in 2009 it was reported that there were 50 million registered firearms in Texas alone. If these were all colonial-era muskets or single-shot hunting weapons, I'd have no problem. But a number of these weapons and many unregistered guns are multiple-shot weapons of mass murder.

Unless the political rhetoric in America materially changes -- something that hasn't happened in 233 years -- or these types of weapons can be kept out of the hands of crazies, this will occur again and again. America's streets and parking lots will continue to be drenched in the blood of innocent shooting victims.

Jeffrey Shear

Las Vegas

More division

To the editor:

Last Saturday's tragedy in Tucson -- centering on the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the carnage created by the act of a 22-year-old mentally unbalanced man -- is a chance to self-examine and assess the state of the soul of American politics.

This is not a time for political blame. The evidence shows that the murderer pulling the trigger had been obsessed with Rep. Giffords since 2007, when he had attended an earlier "meet and greet" session with the congresswoman. Accusing the right or the left of creating a culture of violence that is to blame for the Tucson tragedy only leads to more division in our society.

Those who politicize this unspeakable tragedy are victims of their own prejudice and bias.

As a matter of personal beliefs and values, I do not agree with Rep. Giffords' position on illegal immigration. Nevertheless, I am in a state of total admiration for her and the fine person she is.

There is absolutely no place in me at the moment for anything but hope for her life and her recovery.

Bob Jack

North Las Vegas

Blame Palin, Angle

To the editor:

We should partially blame the shooting in Tucson on Saturday on comments made by Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle and other tea party mouthpieces who choose to incite hatred and division rather than unity to solve our country's major problems.

Comments such as "don't retreat, reload" -- which Ms. Palin had previously tweeted when tea party candidates she had endorsed lost -- and the cross-hair targets Ms. Palin placed over different Democrats including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on her website, indicate that delusional people can be incited to extreme actions by mere words.

In addition, the suggestions made by Ms. Angle that Americans would be justified in using Second Amendment remedies if Democrats won the midterms is exactly the fuel that these disturbed individuals need to justify their horrible deeds. There are obviously sick people who take these stupid, irresponsible comments literally.

Political figures such as Ms. Palin and Ms. Angle should bear responsibility for the actions they can and will incite if they continue with their same rhetoric. If anything positive comes out of this terrible tragedy, hope it is that people such as Ms. Palin, Ms. Angle and others will come to realize that their words have consequences.

Elaine Harman

Las Vegas

Political discourse

To the editor:

Whether the deranged individual who committed the murderous acts in Arizona was driven by rhetoric, vitriolic speech or politics in general, we are now given an opportunity to take a long, hard look at the degeneration of political discourse in our nation.

We seem to have lost the ability to discuss, debate and even argue without resorting to labeling opponents as crazies, socialists, fascists or a host of other incendiary names. The concept of calm debate is quickly being lost in America.

The art of compromise is a contributing factor for why our nation has been successful for 235 years. The ability of elected officials to disagree, yet come together in the end for the betterment of our society and country, is a critical brick in the foundation of our democratic republic.

We are at a crossroads in our history and future. We can continue along the current path and quite possibly degenerate further, or take a step back, think about the consequences of doing so and act accordingly.

Joel Rector

North Las Vegas