Let's cut to the chase here. Tougher gun laws would not have prevented Saturday's massacre in Arizona. Neither would limits placed on political discourse. What happened in Arizona is that one young man, Jared Loughner, began a long slow walk into severe mental illness and there is no evidence that anyone did anything to try and help him.
People Saw This Coming
It happened slowly. Friends in early years of high school describe a totally different Jared than the picture of the monster we see now. “I’ve always known him as the sweet, caring Jared,” says Kelsey Hawkes, now 21, who dated Jared briefly when she was a high school freshman and Jared was a sophomore. But looking back, another friend saw signs that something wasn't right. “He’d say things and I’d be shocked — random words strung together about imagination, dream, consciousness," said former high school friend Zach Olser, 22 . "You’d try to figure out what he was saying.”
There's the report of his friend, Bryce Tierney, whose last contact with Jared was a voicemail message a few hours before he set off on his massacre. Tierney recalls Jared's increasingly bizarre behavior:
He also describes Loughner as being obsessed with "lucid dreaming"—that is, the idea that conscious dreams are an alternative reality that a person can inhabit and control—and says Loughner became "more interested in this world than our reality." Tierney adds, "I saw his dream journal once. That's the golden piece of evidence. You want to know what goes on in Jared Loughner's mind, there's a dream journal that will tell you everything."Tierney also recalls how Jared developed what might have been an obsession with Congresswoman Giffords, who was terribly injured in the attack, after being disappointed with her answer at a Town Hall Meeting to his question: "What is government if words have no meaning?" This event took place in 2007 long before anyone had ever heard of Sarah Palin.
In the last two years Jared's increasingly bizarre behavior got him fired from a fast food job at Quiznos, and a volunteer dog walking job with the local animal shelter.
Summer of 2010 Jared attended Pima Community College. In math class "Mark DeBeliso, 19, says Loughner shouted out questions six or seven times during one 90-minute class. The outbursts focused on the apocalypse and death, DeBeliso says." Another student wrote a series of emails to a friend describing her concern from day one of the class. After two weeks with Jared in class she wrote the following on June 14:
'We have a mentally unstable person in the class that scares the living cr** out of me. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon. Everyone interviewed would say, Yeah, he was in my math class and he was really weird. I sit by the door with my purse handy. If you see it on the news one night, know that I got out fast...'Jared continued in the school until September 29th when campus officials became aware of a video he posted online claiming that the college was illegal under the Constitution. At that time two Pima College police officers visited Jared's home meeting with him and his parent's and delivering a letter requiring Jared to undergo a mental health evaluation before returning to school. He never went back.
Reports of Death Threats? Yet Shooter Was Able to Buy a Gun?
The same Sheriff Dupnik who has been so offensive and outspoken in blaming conservatives like Rush Limbaugh for the tragedy admitted at a press conference that "As we understand it, there have been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats to kill." Public records also show that Jared had other run ins with the law including a drug charge. Dupnik calls Rush's rhetoric "irresponsible" but what of Dupnik's conduct? Does he bear no responsibility for the failure to prevent this crime?
How is it that with all these warning signs that Jared was able to buy a gun? How sad it is that no one ever intervened to get Jared the help he so clearly needed. Why is it that so many pundits and politicians on the left spend so much time pointing fingers of blame at the right while ignoring the REAL problem?
The National Institutes of Health estimates that approximately 1.1% of Americans suffer from Schizophrenia, a severe brain disorder widely thought to be the cause of Jared Loughner's disturbed mind. Of course few who suffer this life altering disease will ever turn violent and commit mass murder. But shouldn't we invest our time and efforts into helping those who need treatment to get it? Wouldn't that be a better solution to this tragedy than playing the blame game or passing new laws that will do nothing to stop the next killer?