During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.
"I don't see the connection," between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday's shooting, said John Ellinwood, Kelly's spokesman. "I don't know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way. I just don't see the connection.
"Arizona is a state where people are firearms owners -- this was just a deranged individual."
But you can't have it both ways. Yes, he has no coherent political philosophy; you can't read much into the fact that he has both The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf on his reading list. But if he is so far out of touch with reality, do you really think he came up with his anti-government rants by himself? People respond to what is in the air.
Here is a nice simple suggestion. Let's ask our elected representatives to foreswear gun metaphors in their political discourse. No more cute gunsights on congressional districts, no more "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."
No bans, just a voluntary compact. Or would you really have us believe that the only way you can inspire your supporters is with imagery of bloodshed?