Tom Foreman | BIO
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.
If we lived in a country where speeches were caged, democracy unknown, and basic legal and human rights routinely denied, perhaps such folks would have a case. But we do not. When they take up their guns against “tyrants” here, they are fighting phantoms and exposing their own ignorance of real tyranny, or perhaps their mental illness.
Who knows what we’ll ultimately learn about this case anyway? Maybe we’ll find out about other factors that drove the slaughter. I don’t expect that they’ll make such sense.
But I have no doubt that as you and so many others here and in Arizona mourn, millions and millions of Americans stand with you - united, despite our differences, in condemning the cruelty that takes lives and maims our fellow citizens even as they try to take part in the democracy we all must prize.
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