I finished last night shocked by the shooting in Tuscon Arizona.  Having worked for an MP and taken part in public events its appalling that someone has just gone up to a public representative at a public event and shot them and then continued shooting the crowd, including a 9-year-old child and a judge.

Security was always something thought about, particularly at surgeries where the MP and a member of her staff were alone in a room with a member of the public – I was particularly uncomfortable the time we had someone in who was clearly several sandwiches short of a picnic and was sat with two Kukri (wiki) type knives.(His complaint was about crushed beetles being added to the burgers at MacDonald’s in Bracknell as a sex drug)  Following the Nigel Jones MP disaster security was reviewed and we put measures in place to make sure the MP was as safe as possible; there was always someone with the MP, the MP was always nearest the door with a table or something else between them and the constituent.  Fortunately the public weren’t encouraged to come to the office and were not let in so measures were not needed there.

Watching the news I was struck by the words of the local Sheriff Dupnik when he said a consuming atmosphere of political vitriol centred on Arizona may have been a factor in the attack.

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,”  he said, “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

This anger had spilled into violence before, with Ms Giffords’ office being vandalised last March after she upset Arizona conservatives by supporting Mr Obama’s healthcare reform bill.  Sheriff Dupnik said the congresswoman had been threatened by someone with a gun during her re-election campaign in November, adding that there had been other threats.

“We understand that at her headquarters right now, there is a suspicious package being investigated,” he told reporters.

Typical of that attitude of hatred was the graphic put on the Sarah Palin website with gun sights trained on opponents, gun sights?  I’m not blaming Sarah Palin for what’s happened but it can’t have helped.  I found this helpful to get an idea of the situation in Arizona and for balance here’s the view of the Tuscon Tea Party.

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