NEWS BLOG: What I’m watching: Bob Herbert on Rachel Maddow


Bit by bit, we’ll learn more about the tragedy in Aurora. But from what we know so far, it seems clear that the 24-year-old believed to have carried out the massacre has a severe mental-illness problem. That subject itself is worth a national discussion: we need to put much more funding and research into mental illness.

But we also need stronger gun-control laws in this country. Mental illness did not kill those 12 moviegoers and injure dozens of others. Guns – several different kinds, apparently – did.

Guns-control opponents are online in force, with the usual arguments. It was good, then, to see the interview with former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, from Friday’s Rachel Maddow show, calling attention to a troubling fact of life.

“Gun violence in America,” said Herbert, “is really part and parcel of the character in the United States.”

I wish one of the results of Friday’s carnage would be a rational, national discussion about that topic. Why are guns so important to so many people? Why, if I may ask naively, do so many people find pleasure in shooting a gun? Why are so many Americans so afraid of their fellow citizens that they feel compelled to carry a gun for protection?




  1. j.a.m. · · Reply

    It’s none of your business why guns are important to some people. If the concern is violent crime, then you need to focus your busybody impulses on violent criminals, not innocent, upstanding citizens exercising their constitutional rights.

    Sorry, but you lost the gun control debate long ago. Rational people see the inherent stupidity of merely proliferating laws to outlaw illegality.

  2. cliint · · Reply


    I am a parent and grandparent. So too were many of the people who lost loved ones to this man, now, as you are trying to do, about to be defined as a “victim” of mental illness. I am sorry, rational people plan and plot mass murder. Are they insane or evil? Is it so easy to justify the acts of Arthur Shawcross as an illness…or evil? Is the issue guns? This man made bombs as well to kill police.

    Sadly, in my view, we have excused so many people’s behavior as our moral failing…that we lose sight of the reality that taking of a life is not a new problem, it has existed forever. Did Jack the Ripper take lives because knives were available? Do young people in Rochester shoot each other because of guns…no, Maryanna, they have knives as well and cut each other. People scald their babies…is that a defense? No, in an orderly society, evil should be dealt with without forgiveness!

    I love your sense of humanity…I hate your refusal to hold people accountable for their behavior under the guise of your liberalism! This man is evil and killed and maimed and did so for reasons we do not understand…that does not mean that it is illness. It means it is evil and needs to be rooted out for all, regardless of race, poverty, gun ownership, or weapon of choice!

  3. Every time a tragedy such as this occurs, we start in on gun control. Ms. Towers stated that mental illness did not kill those people. Very true. But I have to peel away at the obvious, and ask: if that young man was well, with proper treatment to help his mental illness, would he have killed 12 human beings?
    This country has an dated, irresponsible take on mental illness. The universe has been trying to tell us this, but when horrible killings like this happen we scratch our heads and sing the same outdated song. Trying to push that song in the top ten again, when it obviously won’t happen, because no one wants to hear it anymore. No one cares about your opinion about gun control – and here we go. Again with the water cooler conversations about how bad guns are. This country will NEVER band guns- how is America doing on drug control? When we bring up guns, and how awful guns are, the important stuff gets burried again- and the mental illness topic fades… We have beautiful young children as young as 9 who want to end Their lives-, homelessness that is born out of mental illness. This nation is witness to Painful suicides, and millions of people who suffer in bitter isolation and cruel, unmerciful pain-from severe depression. That tortured soul needs to be heard- but not by a gun shot.

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