Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Lone Gunman

By Alan Caruba

In 1247, the Bethlem Royal Hospital was established at Bishopsgate, just outside the London wall. It was better known as Bedlam and was the first asylum for the mentally ill in England. By 1403 it had some prominent guests. Bedlam had become the generic name for psychiatric hospitals and, more colloquially for a disturbance of the peace.

There was such a disturbance on Saturday when Jared Loughner shot U.S Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the brain at point blank range. He then shot others including a Federal judge and a nine-year-old child.

There is something like 25,000 laws on the books concerning the purchase and ownership of guns and not one single one of them could have prevented what happened.

This is not a defense of guns. The U.S. Revolution began at Concord and Lexington when a group of farmers picked up their guns and shot at British soldiers. No one is going to un-invent guns and everywhere they were banned, tyrannies of every description occurred.

This is about the Jared Loughner’s who, in my lifetime, assassinated men like John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Some nine U.S. presidents have either been killed or attacked by assassins. In 1981, John Hinkley Jr., in an effort to impress the actress, Jodie Foster, nearly succeeded in assassinating Ronald Reagan. Earlier Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Gerald Ford were shot at.

Anyone who has been a reporter as I have been will tell you that every American city has a section that local residents fear to travel to or through. Murder occurs in every American city, large and small, every day. Usually it is a drug deal or robbery gone bad or a gambling dispute.

For reporters, the killing of someone prominent is a news bonanza. It overrides the usual buzz in a newsroom devoted to the more commonplace stories. There’s a reason the news channels are into full coverage mode and why, by the end of the week, when they have exhausted the few known facts of the Tucson shooting, they will return to a normal coverage of the news.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind. It’s not about gun laws. It’s not about Tucson. It’s not about Arizona. It’s not about political analysis and dialogue, so you can ignore the hypocritical ravings of MSNBC’s Keith Olberman and others eager to blame Rush Limbaugh or the Fox News Channel.

Loughner is Hinkley redux. Described by all who know him as “a loner” and rejected for military service, invited to leave the campus of a local college, more than a few people understood that Jared had a screw loose.

The closest you can get to understanding what happened is to rent Martin Scorsese’s brilliant film, “Taxi Driver.” There you will see Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of Travis Bickle, the archetype of every lone gunman. And yes, also in the film, you will find Jodie Foster.

The shooting was about mental illness. It was about paranoia. It was about schizophrenia. It was about all the other killings where innocent people were gunned down by someone hearing voices in his head.

Say a prayer for Rep. Giffords, but remember, they walk among us.

© Alan Caruba, 2011


TexasFred said...

As always, an excellent analysis...

Unknown said...


as ever one can make an argument fit ones views as an ex barrister I am all too well awareof that..

25000 gun laws...surely that many laws says something about the culture? as someone who has lived on four continents, and worked in Canada , it is pitiful to hear and read the progun commentaries... Canad is within rifle shot of a number of US states , and yet the gun slaughter rate there is less than 3% of the US..and when last was a Canadian politican killed by a gun?

when we we grow up as a people and stop parading the mining camp way out west drivel??

Alan Caruba said...

Garry: The short answer is that America and Americans are not Canada and Canadians. Different cultures. different histories, different populations, despite being good neighbors for the most part.

As to the 25,000 gun laws, I think it speaks to the way we are a litiginous society and one in which the massive imposition of law has become the only way most legislatures can justify their existance.

LifeoftheMind said...

Well done Mr. Caruba

The hard part is how to protect ourselves from the dangerous, the Libertarians are wrong to fear a government controlled by citizens, while ensuring that the government that can do that does not become oppressive. We need to identify the insane and control them, we need to deport illegals and we need to ensure that proper qualified citizens are protected by and in control of a government that is their servant and not their master.

Anonymous said...

Very well said.

Ronbo said...


Another excellent article that I will link to on my blog.

Once again you hit the nail on the head - Indeed, Jared Loughner is a crazy lone wolf assassin with some very bizarre beliefs, and all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't stop the horror from happening.

However, this did not stop the Left from immediately blaming the Tea Party and Sarah Palin even before the identity of the shooter was known.

In a pre-Internet age the Left would have gotten away with what amounts to a "Blood Libel" against patriots, but not today.

I am proud to be a member of the pajama internet army of bloggers who ruthlessly counter attacked all the stupid Leftists claims made about this sad affair since Saturday when the story broke.

It is Monday, and soon we infantrymen bloggers will be joined by the heavy artillery of AM Talk Radio - Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz and others.

"Sir, enemy in range."

"Fire at will!"

joetote said...


As always, an astute analysis. I'm wondering though. I have said in the past that the policies of this (and past) administrations are leading us towards Marxist Socialism at the worst. however, I've also stated my opinion that the Obama administration and in turns the leftists are delivering us into Third World status. The atrocity that occurred the other day only serves to reinforce my contention.

The problem is not the gun laws or anything else as you say. The problem is we have and are being indoctrinated in Third World fanaticism! We are not allowed to say "Muslim Terrorist" when our brave servicemen and women are assassinated as in the Fort Hood case, but immediately, the conservatives are blamed when something as terrible as this occurs. Now, the Dems are using it to introduce more "anti-free speech policies"

when are we going to learn our lesson? When are we going to take the history of the world and learn from it?
When are we as a people going to revolt against this cancer that is spreading through our country? By revolt, I mean through the ballot box! Now, the powers that be feel they have an excuse to isolate themselves even more form the very people they serve.

This is an extremely scary time for our country and I am truly afraid the left will in fact use this to try and silence anyone who questions their true intentions.

You and others try their best to put out analysis based on study and fact. Your opinions and others are in turn questioned by the MSM and the left as "inflammatory rhetoric" or worse.

As one can guess, my heart goes out to the innocent victims of this atrocity. Innocent, God fearing Americans died or were injured the other day.

The fact that the left has chosen to use this as another way to not only spread their hatred for our entire system of government, but to further foment turmoil as to the differences between the left and right is not only demoralizing but to me completely unpatriotic!

Thank you once again for pointing out the realities of the situation.


Pitch said...

What we know about Jared Loughner so far:
"He was a young left wing political radical." His favorite books were Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto. He was expelled from school for erratic and bazaar behavior. He was rejected for the military in 2008; reason(s) not given. He was unemployed living at home with two very dysfunctional parents. He was a pothead and abused alcohol. He was very delusional based on all his internet and youtube postings along with his erratic behavior patterns and now we have learned of very bizarre findings in a tent in the backyard of his parent’s home.
Loughner apparently began his obsession with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2007 and targeted her after their first interaction and in his own words he described her as “stupid.” We are now told that Congresswoman Giffords subscribed to his youtube channel, which is really way over the top and almost unbelievable. It would tend to make me believe this was somehow added to her page after the fact? Surely she would have reported his rants and the following video showing him dressed as a terrorist burning the American Flag with the music of “Let The Bodies Fall!” Here is the url if you care to watch this bit of insanity:
The rabid obsession that the media and the Democrats have exhibited in hanging the right with the Arizona slaughter of six by one of their own leftwing radicals is a mirror inversion of the Democrats' and media's obsession with the silence on the Islamic religious motive behind Major Hasan's jihad at Fort Hood which led to the slaughter of 14 innocents.
The Left is hell bent and determined to spin this like a top on steroids and somehow blame this tragedy on everyone and everything except where the blame truly belongs. The real travesty and tragedy of all this is that it could have been easily avoided if only Loughner had met the right person(s) that could have given him the comprehensive medical and psychiatric attention he so desperately required.
The American System is truly broken and God only knows what it will take to restore some semblance of stability and sanity. Need proof; take a look at Detroit, Michigan.
For certain, it’s not another 25,000 laws or a ban on guns, more Government encroachment or larger Police Forces that look more like standing Armies…and as a side note to Gary who finds Canada so appealing: You would do well to research your facts before spouting off with your gibberish. The Black and Latino population in Canada is miniscule compared to America’s and it is a well known statistically proven fact that most of the gun violence in America is a direct result of our large Black and Latino population.