Knee Jerks & Reaction – Free speech or Gun Control?

Whether the tragedy in Arizona was caused by bulls-eyes on web sites or placards or vitriol may never be fully known. But in the response to this tragedy – to say or do something that will make us feel better – we again see a typical American response of “let’s put a band-aid on this” right away. There are already urgent calls for a quick-fix regardless of its long-term implications.

By Sunday there were calls in the media and Congress to restrict what can be said or used in political advertisements. There were calls to limit free speech. There were calls to put limits and penalties on what could be said in a country where it has been our historic right to protect free speech – even when some of what is said is odious.

It seems peculiar that these proponents are seeking to put a fix on free speech instead of looking at the real problem – the absolute proliferation of handguns – semi automatic weapons better suited for war than for sale at a sports store to an individual who will most likely plead an insanity defense for his senseless and selfish actions.

It would be a sad ending to this tragedy that our rights become victims of emotional decisions and knee jerk reaction.

Author: Peter Shaplen Productions

More than four decades of experience as a journalist, producer, reporter, writer and professor of news, corporate production, crisis management.

3 thoughts on “Knee Jerks & Reaction – Free speech or Gun Control?”

  1. When you consider the number of guns in this country and easy access to them…the high level of general rage…a population that demands and reveres vitriolic rhetoric in the media and in political campaigns…and a cultural attachment to knee-jerk reactions to any event, it is amazing this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen more often in America.

  2. Exactly my reaction. And why, oh why, are we selling guns to mentally ill young people? It is mind-boggling that the NRA is pursuing suits to ban “discriminatory” age requirements for 18-21 year olds regarding the purchase and possession of hand guns.

  3. Jessie Dykes commented over on Facebook that, “Parents need watch not thier compters or tv teach thier kids what is right or wrong not let go out in the world whithout morales if you have a sick kid you are at fault not the child you need more control!!…gun control starts at home.”

    I couldn’t disagree with you more, Jessie. How many stories have we heard (Seung-Hui Cho – the V Tech shooter) where parents knew their child was mentally ill but the child refused help? Pima Community College suspended Loughner for threatening outbursts (and said they wouldn’t reinstate him until he’d had a psychiatric evaluation). A Math teacher called the police after one of his rants in class. I’d say one could point the finger at a lot of people who might have intervened more vigorously, and didn’t (beginning with the police). But to blame the parents? As a mental health professional, I have great sympathy for those desperate parents who know something is wrong but feel helpless about forcing their child to get help. By the way, Loughner purchased the gun in December. If the seller had been obliged by law to do impose a 30-day waiting period allowing time for a more vigorous background check, perhaps this tragedy could have been averted.

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