After the horrid shootings in Arizona, the local sheriff went on the air to blame radio’s political pundits for it. This was an inappropriate strategy on the part of the sheriff. In reality, the right-wing radio soapboxers probably had no effect on the deranged killer. It also should be restated that people such as Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck are merely exercising their right of free speech.
Two other causes of this catastrophe are more pertinent. The first is guns. The gunman in this case had easy access to guns, as most people in the U.S., unfortunately, do. The violence in the U.S. and Mexico is out of control, and in this matter our laws have failed us.
I am for the balance of power that federalism implies. The federal government now has too much power, and the states should be working to get much of their autonomy back.
But on the issue of guns, the southern states have done a notoriously poor job. People can walk into stores, and buy guns without any background checks being done. This creates a huge problem for the northern states, for these guns are easily carried to northern cities, where children are shot on their way to school.
As this is a national problem, it is a federal problem. The federal government would here be in its constitutional authority to pass laws regulating to whom and under what conditions guns could be sold. The right to bear arms is a basic one, but society has a compelling interest in safety.
The second issue involves mental health. It is clear that the Arizona gunman is deeply psychotic, and has little grasp of reality. He may or may not have benefited from mental health treatment.
But the issue of mental health has been too long neglected by our society. Mental health programs are the first to face budget cuts. As a result, our prisons are filled with the mentally ill.
It is time that we addressed this issue, and that mental health be afforded the same resources that mainstream healthcare is given.