Following Saturday’s tragic shooting of several people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), by 22-year old assassin Jared Loughner, many have asked how someone who displayed so many obvious characteristics of mental instability was able to easily obtain access to a semi-automatic firearm. As Time Magazine’s Nathan Thornburgh points out, Arizona has particularly weak detection and reporting of mental health. (It is technically illegal to sell firearms to the mentally ill.) In a post on FrumForum, conservative pundit David Frum dismisses renewed calls for gun control and instead says that the incident should “remind us why we regulate marijuana,” noting that Loughner is suspected of being a marijuana user. He writes that there may be “renewed pressure to control the weapons that committed the crime,” but instead chooses to place blame on the “trend these days toward a more casual attitude and easier access to…drugs”:
After horrific shootings, we hear calls for stricter regulation of guns. The Tucson shooting should remind us why we regulate marijuana.Jared Lee Loughner, the man held as the Tucson shooter, has been described by those who know as a “pot smoking loner.” […]
After the Tucson shooting, there may be renewed pressure to control the weapons that committed the crime. But what about the drugs that may have aggravated the killer’s mental disease? The trend these days seems toward a more casual attitude and easier access to those drugs. Among the things we should be discussing in the aftermath of this horror is the accumulating evidence of those drugs’ potential contribution to making some dangerous people even more dangerous than they might otherwise have been.
It should be noted that, of course, marijuana is illegal. However, the extended magazine that Loughner used in the shooting — which allowed him to get off as many shots as he did before he was subdued — was illegal until the assault weapons ban expired in 2004. Additionally, in an interview Mothers Jones conducted with Bryce Tierney, a friend of Loughner, Tierney claims that the alleged shooter quit drinking and doing drugs in 2009 — years before the shooting took place.
The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan notes that the Drudge Report is now exclaiming that Loughner is a “left-wing pothead.”
Max_1 asks, “Can Frum please point out the other pot related shootings?”