Was Jared Lee Loughner influenced by the gun metaphors coming from conservatives for the last 2 years? Only he knows for sure. His friends are reportedly saying that he didn't watch TV or listen to talk radio but if they knew him so well then they should have known he was capable of such a horror. If not then how sure can they be about anything else about him?
What we do know is that Loughner pretty much exercised his rights according to the conservative right's rhetoric. Look at what they said and what he did.
- Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), said during the health care debate that she wanted Minnesotans to be “armed and dangerous” when the government tried to enforce federal laws.
- Sharron Angle claimed that if Congress couldn’t be changed at the ballot box, people would be inclined to use “2nd Amendment remedies” to change the nature and make-up of Congress
- "And if ballots don't work, bullets will," Joyce Kaufman, an outspoken South Florida conservative radio talk show host
- “don’t retreat, instead reload”, Sarah Palin
Loughner was armed and dangerous and had a huge beef with federal government. He exercised his 2nd Amendment rights and legally bought a 9mm hand gun and because Arizona has a concealed carry law, he was able to have it at a political rally. The attempted assassination of a congresswoman would have indeed changed the make up of congress in some ways. And when he ran out of bullets after the first shots, he didn't run, he stood there and reloaded his weapon.
Jared Lee Loughner did everything they said he could do. In fact he did everything they said he should do as an American citizen who is dissatisfied with how his government and country is working. Now they try to run and deflect from their own words.
Even if Loughner didn't hear their words directly his actions were consistent with what each of those individuals stated was the right of each and every American citizen. We all saw what they were talking about in action and it doesn't look so noble. So the scary question is, how many Jared Lee Loughners are there out there that did pay attention to the rhetoric who, like him, aren't wrapped too tight, who don't care about the consequences or think that eventually history will record them as heroes on the right side of the issue like the Founding Fathers who were at the time regarded as terrorists and insurgents but today are seen as great men.
How many Loughners are out there listening to Palin and Bachmann and Kaufman and interpreting their rhetoric literally, think its their duty to fight their government in such a manner? It's abhorrent that Palin, Bachmann and others like them are so willing to play fast and loose with these kinds of metaphors and analogies in emotionally charged venues like political rallies. And its a shame that they refuse to acknowledge that such vitriolic speech can foster an atmosphere for violence even though the assailants may not have heard their speeches and comments directly.