Watch it all.
WOW! He is one strange young man. I am not sure anyone would have been able to help him. Sad.
Given that his mental state had been picked up by the authorities, would he have had a gun license?
In Arizona, you only need a license to carry a concealed gun — there’s no license requirement to purchase or own a gun, nor to carry one openly.
They do have a class of “prohibited possessors,” who may not possess or be sold a firearm. Prohibited possessors include, among others, people convicted of certain felonies and anyone “found to constitute a danger to himself or others pursuant to a court order and whose court ordered treatment has not been terminated.”
Unless this guy had a prior felonious record or had been found by a court to constitute a danger to himself or others, there was no legal bar to him buying a gun. Depending on whether or not he had a concealed-carry license he may have been in violation of that law, if he did in fact bring his gun concealed to the event (I don’t know, but I would imagine he did.) I doubt that anyone will bother to charge him with that, though.
Yes, Ross has it, but I don’t know all the facts of Loughner’s “status”. It is a law in most states that if anyone has had an involuntary, inpatient psych admission(and even some voluntary) they are not supposed to own firearms, concealed or not. How often this slips through the cracks is not a statistic I have. Horribly sad for the victims and their families.
“Disorganized, delusional, psychotic thought” says it all…and whether or not he could be “helped” against his will depends on the laws of his state.
Oh, #2, that IS the $64,000 question and the one I as an American have been too afraid to post w/r/t the Tucson tragedy. It is in the DNA of America, sadly, to believe that he was in some abstract sense entitled to the right to bear arms. This in turn is due I believe mainly to the fact that in the first 25 years of the 1700s, more than 250,000 Ulster Scots arrived in the Colonies (you’d know all about the situation they were leaving no doubt), and 99% of them being Calvinist/Presbyterian, believed in their God-given right to settle, multiply and fill this earth and to be armed as they made their way from ports of arrival into the frontier where their families were expected to serve as a buffer between the landed English gentry of e.g. the Virginia Tidewater, and the frontier with the Indian territory that was then the rest of the continent.
The very numerous descendants of those quarter-million and later arrivals have been settling the American frontier ever since, and forming its ethos.
Many thanks #2 to #6 for that background. Even with strict gun laws over here, we had a terrible massacre in Cumbria with someone who owned a licensed shotgun and went “over the edge”.
#6 TACit – I knew that many Scots had settled the South [hence the deep fried cuisine I gather], but not that the Scots Ulster Protestants had come over in such numbers and gone West. Perhaps in the Plantation they already had a frontier mentality and were fed up with things after the Restoration. Thanks for the background.
Prayers for the families of the victims, and those involved, particularly in the emergency services.
“It is in the DNA of America, sadly, to believe that he was in some abstract sense entitled to the right to bear arms”.
I’m American and I don’t believe this; not if he was severely mentally ill. And “bearing arms” is about defense, not about initiation/instigation.
I completely agree with you #8 that he should not have had access to weapons, being (increasingly) mentally unstable. It was not a recent thing; his ex-friends have spoken about how practised and good a shot he was. If Mona Charen were writing the laws he would have been barred from gun possession due to his mental state: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/256778/contemptible-opportunists-obscure-actual-problem-mona-charen
Her solution, though it could be susceptible to mis-application itself, could certainly have prevented this shooter from having a weapon since his record of disturbing behavior was long.
You’re certainly right that ‘bearing arms’ implies defense and this was not that, and I should have found a better phrase to indicate the widely held American attitude that the government shouldn’t in principle prevent a person having a gun if they want one. That is certainly the attitude of many Americans, and the NRA’s cause, etc. etc., resurging now since a while after Reagan was shot and there were some calls for control. I am convinced it is in the national psyche since the Revolutionary War, which after all was won by the colonists being able to arm themselves; in this sense it started out as defense. Let me say I only realized this looking into my colonial genealogy which I thought included Scots-Irish but in fact was all Anglicans, Congregationalists, Quakers, and Dutch and German Reformed, and German Lutheran, adding in English Methodists and a Prussian Catholic shortly before the Civil War (when my [i]most recently arrived[/i] direct forebear came to the USA. No Scots-Irish, and not one through Ellis Island either – no wonder we felt like misfits in the 1960s…)
Pageantmaster, the Ulster Scots, who are referred to Stateside as Scots-Irish, poured into the Colonies 1700-1750 when the lands were for sale cheap enough and they saw that in Northern Ireland they would be prevented teaching their children their Calvinist faith and forced to work their newly gotten lands to pay tax that supported the C of E which they hated. Some once in the New World made war on the settled English even before the RW, in North Carolina for example, and once it was declared all bets were off of course. Surely you know that one of George Washington’s most famous quotations is: “If defeated everywhere else I will make my last stand for liberty among the Scots-Irish of my native Virginia”. He said this because in the French & Indian Wars (1750-60s) he had developed such admiration for their fighting bravery even under their neglectful and slack colonial English-gentry officers. See here e.g. for more: http://www.theulsterscots.com/america print.htm He thought they deserved better leadership and became their Commander-in-Chief. The rest is, as they say, history….including I think psychological history.
#9: Guns didn’t become prevalent in American society until the Civil War, and they became essential in the West.
I don’t think you can blame “Calvinists” for that. On the whole, we’re a fairly peaceful branch of the Church.
From a review of Michael Bellesiles’ book ‘Arming America’:
“It was Samuel Coltâ€™s entrepreneurial genius to recognize that a gun-culture would have to be created when the Civil War ended. He did all he could to link his revolver with an image of the heroic frontier and to find a market for his guns among the migrants heading west. He fostered the idea that the Great Plains were filled with “hordes of aborigines” who launched massive suicidal attacks against innocent travelers. Against these savages the “enterprising pioneer” stood alone, only his expertise with a gun standing between his family and death.”
The first settlers in the South didn’t have many guns. Even for hunting, guns in the 18th century were expensive (equal to two months’ wages) and not very reliable compared to the bow and arrow. The Civil War suddenly puts guns in the hands of everyone, and Colt made it a huge moneyspinner in the years after.
#6: “The very numerous descendants of those quarter-million and later arrivals have been settling the American frontier ever since, and forming its ethos.”
As to the precise origins of the white settlers who responded to Horace Greeley’s exhortation, I really don’t know. I suspect they came from every part of the east, especially agricultural New England and Pennsylvania. The West wasn’t notably ‘Calvinist’ at all – rather more Methodist, I would have thought, once the evangelists got there.
kmh1- ‘Prevalent’? How common is ‘prevalent’? Colt may have started a mass market but I don’t imagine my (non-Ulster Scot but northern European) handful of frontiersmen forebears shot their food sources with anything but an ‘essential’ gun. I can’t recall ever seeing a portrayal of, say, New England Puritans routinely hunting with bow and arrow! I know for sure that my ordinary New England Congregationalist forebear who was found dead in 1756 not far from Damascus PA with a Prayer Book in his pocket had been shot with a gun, it’s not known whose. In other places, such as North Carolina as I mentioned, feisty Scots-Irish Presbyterians shot their English neighbors in cold blood before the RW opened – read the history of Anson County sometime. No doubt there were many places this did not happen, of course. Note also that I did not claim Calvinists were always shooting others. Leaving the reader to make the connections in history, I merely pointed out that the Ulster Scots were Calvinists, which is what motivated their moves from Scotland to Ulster and then Ulster to the Colonies, and I recounted the well-documented role and reputation of their immediate (2nd, 3rd generation perhaps) Scots-Irish descendants in the French & Indian War and the RW.
Descendants of the hundreds of thousands of Scots-Irish who had sailed into Philadelphia and Delaware ports in the early 1700s were by the 1800s settled along the Appalachian frontier from PA through VA down into GA and beyond, along with many German and Swiss Reformed, Quakers and others. On the Virginia frontier in the early 1800s hardly a week went by without an Indian attack on undefended colonials near some small settler compound, or a violent confrontation between white men and Indians in the very different daily routines they followed. One only needs to read the archived local weekly newspapers that were just starting to be printed, one by my 3x great-grandfather and thus I’ve read it, in towns such as Woodstock VA in the 1820s to learn this. They defended themselves against the denizens of the forest, and against natives who were for the most part not at all pleased to share their territory, and I sincerely doubt they did so with bow and arrows.
Perhaps you might want to further educate yourself about the actual colonial and early national history of the eastern USA. I have read enough local historic sources to be critical of potted histories such as you suggested and posted. Then you could also delve into the historical role of the DAR in arousing patriotism in times of war, and related topics, which might give you a much sharper understanding of the dynamics of American expansion.
Of course it’s true that other groups and major numbers of other Christian denominations also settled the Midwest and West, as well as ongoing new European arrivals. The expansion after the Civil War from the South, I think, also included many descendants of the Scots-Irish who had been Confederates, and they likely carried with them the tradition of a right to arm themselves to defend their territory that had become a source of national pride at the RW. The point I tried to make previously, partly in response to Pageantmaster, is that this attitude which was so much embodied in the Scots-Irish colonists seems a distinguishing characteristic of the American psyche, apart from being enshrined in the second amendment.
Michael Bellesilesâ€™ book â€˜Arming Americaâ€™ has been pretty much discredited. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_A._Bellesiles
[blockquote]In the end, however, the politics of the issue mattered less to historians “than the possibility that Bellesiles might have engaged in faulty, fraudulent, and unethical research.” As critics subjected the historical claims of the book to close scrutiny, they demonstrated that much of Bellesiles’ research, particularly his handling of probate records, was inaccurate and possibly fraudulent. This criticism included noting several serious errors in the tables published in The Journal of American History article, namely, that they did not provide a total number of cases and gave percentages that “were clearly wrong.”
In two scholarly articles, law professor James Lindgren of Northwestern University noted that in Arming America, Bellesiles had
* purported to count guns in about a hundred wills from 17th- and 18th-century Providence, Rhode Island, but these did not exist because the decedents had died intestate (i.e., without wills);
* purported to count nineteenth-century San Francisco County probate inventories, but these had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire;
* reported a national mean for gun ownership in 18th-century probate inventories that was mathematically impossible;
* misreported the condition of guns described in probate records in a way that accommodated his thesis;
* miscited the counts of guns in nineteenth-century Massachusetts censuses and militia reports,
* had more than a 60% error rate in finding guns listed as part of estates in Vermont records; and
* had a 100% error rate in the cited gun-related homicide cases of seventeenth-century Plymouth.
Critics also identified problems with Bellesiles’s methods of citation. Cramer noted that Bellesiles had misrepresented a passage by George Washington about the quality of three poorly prepared militia units as if his criticism applied to the militia in general. (Washington had noted that the three units were exceptions to the rule.) Cramer wrote, “It took me twelve hours of hunting before I found a citation that was completely correct. In the intervening two years, I have spent thousands of hours chasing down Bellesilesâ€™s citations, and I have found many hundreds of shockingly gross falsifications.”[/blockquote]
#13: I should have specified I meant handguns, not rifles. Rifles were of course a mainstay of hunting and defense, but the handgun became the emblem of the west, thanks to Colt. The mass production of reliable handguns only started after the Civil War, when hundreds of thousands of men, north and south, came to own and use both handguns and rifles for the first time.
Of course, most of the hunting game and fighting with Indians was taking place in New England. If these people had any religious affiliation in the 18th century (most didn’t), it was likely Anglican or Congregationalist.
The silly reference to ‘Calvinists’ calls for comment and explanation. Perhaps you should notice that these ‘Scots-Irish’ were actually Irishmen – not a particularly pacifistic people!
Full disclosure: I am half-Irish. Hmm, did I inherit the violent gene? 🙂
km1, you really should read and learn more history.
Your second paragraph shows so much ignorance of Colonial demography, as well as of the Puritan history of New England, which area had without doubt the most religious populace on the continent in that era, that I am not even going to address it.
Your third paragraph, second sentence, is in error. The Ulster Scots were Scotsmen, mainly Calvinist Presbyterians, who left their Scottish lands for opportunity in Northern Ireland’s Ulster Plantation in the 1600s (apparently tens of thousands arrived in the 1690s alone), only to find after a generation or two that their option to raise their children in their Calvinist Presbyterian faith was being quashed by Parliament. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/plantation/ulsterscots/us02.shtml
(It is easy to verify their origin just by looking at online genealogy sites where Bible-recorded family lineages are sometimes reproduced; the most literate and educated, as Presbyterians often were, kept records of lineage, of household expenditure, wrote wills and the like and these were brought to the New World.)
Then the generations descended from the Scotland-leavers began to leave en masse for the New World. In the US we call them the Scots-Irish because they were Scots communities who spent two or three generations in Ireland, but typically they had no Gaelic blood, and their self-identification as Protestants bordered on the fierce. As well as these settlers there were groups of Scottish ‘Border-Rievers’, also fierce fighters, with many descendants also throughout the Appalachian region and beyond today, but I think these were violent for a different reason: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gallgaedhil/dna_by_surname.htm#border_reiver_surname_map
“In the US we call them the Scots-Irish because they were Scots communities who spent two or three generations in Ireland, but typically they had no Gaelic blood, and their self-identification as Protestants bordered on the fierce.”
I know quite a bit about the Plantation of Ulster (and beyond), and the Anglican oppression of Presbyterians. 3-5 generations of living in Ireland makes you Irish, whether you speak Irish or English. Irish is a national identity, not a religion. How long does it take to become an Australian? Until the ‘Troubles’ of the 1970s, I never heard of an Ulsterman or -woman who didn’t think of themselves as Irish – Protestants usually, but still Irish. My father was a Catholic from Ulster. My Scottish mother would have been amazed to be told she didn’t have “Gaelic blood”.
In my second paragraph, I meant that the great majority of people in the United States, according to the first census c. 1790, had no formal religious affiliation. I am fairly confident that is correct. By the mid-18th century, Puritans were not a majority in NE. The religious character of the US changed in subsequent generations, especially through revivalism but also immigration. For a long time the north was more religious than places like Virginia.
My point about handguns (the weapon of choice in most gun crime) remains.
Ah – so you do know how complicated it is! I see using Gaelic to mean Irish was a mistake, as I should probably have known, but I don’t quite know the right ‘label’.
Was your Scottish mother actually from Scotland, or do you mean she was an Ulsterwoman of Scots derivation, or something else? – can’t tell from your comment. Anyway, by Gaelic [i]I[/i] only meant Catholic Irish who remained in the northern counties among the several waves in 1600-1700 of Scots who came to the Plantation; maybe you can tell me a better term. For the most part these native Irish still had a feudal-type relation to the local bishops – they were called ‘erenachs’ – making issues of land tenancy a source of intense struggle for a couple hundred years at least.
Here is a web-page with some detail – its last 3 paragraphs, especially, make somewhat the point I was trying to earlier about the warrior-like self-identification of many Scots-Irish who populated the American Colonies: http://www.ulsterancestry.com/ulster-scots.html
You may disagree with its thrust but it seems quite historically correct – dates and events jibe with other things I’ve read.
So I still propose that, with the descendants of the American colonial Scots-Irish estimated to number today 27 million or so, approaching a tenth of the current population but obviously having formed a far larger proportion of the American citizenry reaching back toward the nation’s birth, their attitudes could well have left a major imprint on America’s national self-concept. This is a way that the US differs significantly from many Commonwealth countries despite having great similarities in population derivation, especially from the British Isles. Which has become a problem when the mentally ill have access to weapons – to connect back to the actual post. The last 24 hours have brought more articles on the issue of public mental health the country needs to deal with.
#18: Thanks for this, and the interesting link – I understand better where you’re coming from. Interesting to read of the hostility of America’s Scots-Irish to George III; of course, they had no reason to love him or the Church of England. In a similar way, I think modern day Australia unconsciously inherited an anti-English attitude from many of its first ‘settlers’, Irish convicts. Many Ulstermen seemed pretty secure in their Irish identity through much of the 19th century until the Home Rule question forced the issue (and challenged the Ascendancy), and the Battle of the Somme in 1916, in which thousands of Ulstermen died, pushed them further into a British identity.
My dear mother was a chauvinistic Scot of Highland stock who converted to equally chauvinistic Catholicism. To her dying day, I am sure she never forgave James VI for not rescuing his mother from the clutches of the English Queen.
Well, you’re welcome. In fact the ‘hostility of America’s Scots-Irish to George III’ could probably be considered the pivot point on which the new nation’s trajectory would turn in the early 1770s, as some of the Unitarians and Puritan descendants up in New England were discovering they had a fighting force ready and willing to take on the monarchy’s army, and that is why I contend the belligerent attitude of the S-I in the eventually victorious Continental Army could have permeated the developing national psyche.
In Australia I would say it is often a [i]conscious[/i] hostility between formerly oppressed Irish and both laboring and managerial-class English – openly discussed at times. But here one doesn’t expect it to lead to armed conflict, more likely occasional drunken brawling.
Your mother would be dear to Cardinal Newman’s heart, wouldn’t she? Newman was not appreciated nor understood in his time, but he was right (including about the Irish), as Pope Benedict XVI has so often and eloquently showed.
Sorry, straying off-topic from the actual post again.