Gifford, Loughner, et. al., v. U.S. Constitution

2011 January 12

by Wesley M. Brown

Like most Americans, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the recent
shootings in Arizona. External terrorists be damned, it is deeply disturbing
when one of our own, motivated either by zealous belief or severe mental
imbalance, decides that death is the only solution.

But, we shouldn’t try to kid ourselves into thinking that Jared Loughner is
not one of our own. Pot-smoking, mentally ill, gun-wielding, paranoid,
looking to get 15 minutes of fame, no matter how; this is not a portrait of
one American but a reflection of all of us. Any one of us could point to
that list and reflect that we have one or more of those attributes, even if
we haven’t an unkind thought in our heads at that moment. For many of us, it
is only a matter of having the right pharmaceutical to prevent us from
having those thoughts and taking those actions.

We will overreact to and overcompensate for these shootings, much as we have
before.

The first week or two will be devoted to various memorial services,
half-masts on the flags, moments of silence, and the like. Each of the
victims deserves no less.

But, shortly thereafter, we will clamor to trade in even more of our
constitutional rights. Legislation will be proposed to further limit gun
sales, further protect sitting judges and legislators, enhance penalties for
persons who harm children or civilians at political rallies, and all manner
of ill-conceived, over-emotional, knee-jerk laws that stand for the precept
that we must trade everything for the illusion of safety.

Our overreaction will compromise our democratic system even more. American
elected and appointed officials, who already can be accused of not being
accessible enough to their constituents, will be able to erect another
barrier between themselves and the electorate. Security concerns will win
the day, even if the official has no particular importance, and he/she will
be able to point to new, enhanced security measures as the reason he cannot
meet with you in person, or even address your concerns at all. After all,
it’s the law.

Only “approved” and “cleared” persons will gain access to government, thus
further alienating those that are already motivated by paranoia, mistrust,
or a deep sense of impending governmental doom.

That, in essence, is the real tragedy of these shootings. Our legislative
overreaction will ultimately lead to the complete disenfranchisement of the
very citizens who deeply mistrust their government right now. What could be
passed off as irrational anti-government paranoia will be completely
rational and accurate in a short while.

Unfortunately, Jared Loughner might have been just a few years too early.

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