U.S. public says Giffords shooting, rhetoric unrelated
Most Americans see no relation between the attempted assassination of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the political tactic of lacing vitriolic rhetoric with firearms analogies.
That’s the conclusion of a CBS News poll that found most Republicans (69 pct), most independents (56 pct) and even a plurality of Democrats (49 pct) believe the two phenomena unrelated.
Those numbers add up to 57 percent of Americans overall — a true majority though not quite big enough to break a Senate filibuster.
The survey, which has a 4 percentage point margin of error, did not ask whether graphic images of rifle cross-hairs, references to finding a Second Amendment solution to congressional reform and similar ballistic gimmickry should continue in force or get booted (not fired) from political marketing departments in the interests of public safety.
Giffords’ accused assailant, Jared Loughner, is described as a mentally disturbed loner who used a semi-automatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to kill six people and wound 14 others on a sunny Saturday in Arizona. He was subdued only when he stopped to reload.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says troubled loners are vulnerable to anger-stirring rhetoric and notes that there’s an army of people out there who are just like Loughner.
The response to the shootings in Congress has been powerful enough to unite lawmakers in the interests of their own safety. Otherwise there’s been lots of finger-pointing and pontificating, which is always helpful as everyone knows.
The CBS poll suggests the country may believe itself to be confronting nothing more than another high-profile nut-with-a-gun incident. In which case, we might expect public attention to leave the auditorium soon after the customary hand-wringing ceremonies are over.
Then the vitriol can return safely to center stage.
Reuters Photo and Graphics Credits: Rick Wilking (Hospital Memorial and Prayer Service); Reuters Graphics (Bullet Trajectory)
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