Glock pistol on display at industry trade showAmong the many details emerging about alleged Tucson shooter Jared Loughner are his economic views, and it seems he agreed with the End-the-Fed crowd. According to the The New York Times, he told a college classmate that he was against the dollar and wanted to replace it.

In that, Loughner and Ron Paul (R-Texas) are on the same page, not that Paul has any connection to what Loughner did. But as commentators have been pointing out repeatedly since the tragic shootings, the tone of today's political rhetoric seems to appeal to some individuals who may be creeping close to the edge of sanity.

The End-the-Fed crowd is particularly sharp in its criticisms, as have been some Sarah Palin's comments and actions. Also well noted in the time since Loughner opened fire is Palin's "target list" of legislators who voted in favor of health care reform – which included Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Do Palin and Paul have any legal responsibility for inciting violence? What about Austria's Glock, which made Loughner's weapon? Of course not -- but moral responsibility is a different matter.

Now, of course, it's time to cue the rhetoric that always arises -- as it did with 2007's Virginia Tech shooting -- about making certain that politicians don't dare infringe on the rights of the gun industry to earn profits. An example is Ron's son, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is quoted in Monday's Wall Street Journal saying "the weapons don't kill people; it's the individual that kills these people." My guess is that without Loughner's Glock, the six people he shot to death would probably be doing fine right now. In a tragic irony, Giffords is herself a supporter of gun ownership.

Too Easy to Get Around the Law

But there is a difference between the Virginia Tech shooting -- where Seung-Hui Cho used a Glock 19 and a Walther P22 to kill 32 students in April 2007 -- and the Loughner case. As I posted on BloggingStocks in April 2007, Virginia has a law preventing people who have a history of mental disturbance -- like Cho -- from buying guns.

The gun dealer in Roanoke, Va., who sold Cho the gun didn't know of Cho's mental problems because he had lied about his mental problems on his gun application and because his mental health record wasn't in the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that the dealer is required to check before selling a gun.

Loughner obtained his Glock perfectly legally on Nov. 30, 2010, at an Arizona sporting goods store -- after he had been booted from Pima Community College and told he could return if he could get "clearance from a mental-health professional that indicated his presence would not present a danger to himself or others," according to the Journal. Arizona allows people to carry concealed guns in their cars, in restaurants and other public places and does not require a check on their mental stability before selling them, nor does it require them to register their guns, according to the Washington Post.

Widespread Responsibility

Why not have laws at the federal, state and local levels that have stiff punishments for selling a gun to someone without first going to great lengths to make sure the person isn't mentally unbalanced. If Arizona had such a law, it would have been harder -- though obviously not impossible -- for Loughner to get his Glock.

Meanwhile, the elder Paul's rhetoric about ending the Fed had a powerful appeal to Loughner. Paul certainly doesn't advocate killing politicians to achieve his aims. According to the Times, a Pima, Ariz., classmate said Loughner railed on about "not liking the currency and he wished that the U.S. would change to a different currency because our currency is worthless." The Ron Paul supporters I debated last month couldn't agree more.

While the legal responsibility for this senseless act is Loughner's alone, the moral responsibility is widespread -- among the gun industry, the politicians who protect it, the patchwork of inconsistent laws that make it too easy for dangerous folks to get guns and the political rhetoric that makes them feel empowered to kill.

The key question Americans have to face is whether it makes sense to let the gun lobby hold more power than citizens who want to live without fear of a well-armed mad gunman going off in a crowd.

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nicoliegh

If I was shot after being on a hit list of sorts you better believe I'd be going after the person who created it. You get what you ask for Sarah. Maybe this will teach you to be careful with those loose lips.

January 11 2011 at 3:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nicoliegh's comment
Trevor

So if you were rich and got shot after having been targeted for attack for being rich, you'd make damn sure you got your revenge against all those who hate rich people?

January 11 2011 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hustonlaw

It's hardly surprising that a place like Arizona - long opposed to the Martin Luther King Holiday; passing discriminatory laws against persons of color; you name it - would allow any fruitcake to buy an automatic pistol so that he could "exercise his Second Amendment rights" as famously stated by fractious politician Sharron Angle in neighboring Nevada. The fact should be that now that the Supreme Court has lined up behind shootists, the gun lobby has nothing to worry about and should give its paranoia a rest and actually join in an effort to take automatic weapons, particularly hand guns, out of "play". But that would be the responsible thing to do, so our local police, and heaven's knows the folks trying to make a speech in public, will have to arm themselves instead.

January 11 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hustonlaw's comment
Trevor

Make a speech in public? That sounds eerily like "excercising her Frist Amendment rights". Surely that can't be what you meant to imply though. Let's hope the Supremem Court doesn't line up behind the "speechists" the same way they've lined up behind the "shootists". Then, not only would people imagine they have some right to protect themselves, they'd also begin thinking they have the right to express themselves. Where will this madness end?

January 11 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gpfs

We could outlaw gun ownership! That would work as well as our outlawing drugs!

January 11 2011 at 11:03 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gpfs's comment
bggdg

Ron Paul's new address: The Empty Space Between Peter Cohan's Ears.

January 11 2011 at 10:52 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to bggdg's comment
bfpowersjr

Does this article REALLY belong in the business news section? (I guess because you mention Glock and Walther we could call it products placement.)

January 11 2011 at 3:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
surfundeep

Where were the concealed carry/open carry gunowners? Just one could have put the perp out of business. By the time the police arrived the damage was done, the dead and injured had none to protect them. Little wonder the Secret Service, Air Marshalls, and Commercial pilots are armed and ready. Armed citizens are America's FIRST line of defense against. Loughner could have been taken out when he first pulled his weapon, and this tragedy prevented!

January 10 2011 at 9:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
proway2

This is Peter Cohan, ckeck the quality and facts of what this guy writes. This guy is a disgrace to his profession and is more of a contributor to problems of this type then the people he accuses.

January 10 2011 at 9:13 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to proway2's comment
bggdg

Cohan has certainly always been a partisan hack, but this article goes way over the top. Is there any evil in the world Cohan doesn't absurdly assume is tied to Ron Paul? One seriously has to begin to question his mental state.

January 11 2011 at 9:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
surfundeep

I would feel much more safer with armed citizens than with an armed government with an oppressive agenda. This is not about a gun...it's about a mentally deranged person with a weapon. He could have used a knife, boxcutter, bricks, a car, poison, an IED bomb, or a nuke. This tragedy could have been prevented with the same type of security forced on Americans at airports. Think of the damage done by terrorists agianst Americans in the recent decade, including 911...guns were not part of the picture. Condolences to a great Congresswoman and her friends and associates and their families.

January 10 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
nmaccanico

Too many people, including our Supreme Court and the NRA, fail to understand the context and INTENT of the second Amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed". James Madison and the framers of this amendment used the word "PEOPLE" in a legal sense. Simarly, "the People vs ACME Corporation" is usually substituted for "The State vs ACME Corporation". One of the issues with this amendment was the case of the beginning letter "P" in the word "People". Several pennings, that is what they referred to as writings, were argued over as to whether or not the word "People" should appear as "People" or "people". In this case, the word "people" was a backward reference to "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state". It is clear to any constitutional lawyer that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" was not intended to extend that right to any individual who chose to keep and bear arms. I would like to hear from another lawyer who has studied Constitutional Law. It is clear that the prior respondants to this do not know a damn thing about the Constitution or Law!

January 10 2011 at 5:09 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to nmaccanico's comment
cferrin104

To look for anything to cut this lady down is disgusting

January 10 2011 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply