January 9th, 2011
03:09 PM ET

Letters to the President: #720 'Tragedy in Tucson'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama and many other government officials have expressed great sadness for the people shot during the attack at that political rally in Arizona, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

Dear Mr. President,

There is of course nothing else to say. What happened in Tucson was cruel, senseless, and unutterably sad. We can and will look for meaning, and we may find out plenty about the how, the where, and the who, but I suspect we’ll find next to nothing to answer the why.

I’ve covered many mass shootings; and the gunmen often have some wild, personal explanation for their actions. Voices in their heads. Too much reading of conspiracy theories on the internet. Substance abuse and mental illness. Ideology run amok. A victim complex. Timothy McVeigh saw himself as a soldier in a great cause. So did the 9/11 terrorists. Many times, so do school shooters, and workplace gunmen, and the enraged person who slaughters his family.

But like I said, their explanations are the words of fools or lunatics. The moment they pick up a gun or make a bomb they remove themselves from the civilized debate.