So begins a new cycle of shock and coming together, as the high-minded call it, to end gun violence, abandon fear mongering and avoid hate speech.
This ardor for civility will cool off in a few weeks, and violence and hatefulness will resume in the public circus, thank you.
It happened after the Kennedy brothers were assassinated, and after Ronald Reagan, George Wallace and John Lennon were gunned down. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reminds us that senseless mass killings are almost routine—that 15 bloody multiple killings, beginning with the 1991 mass murder of 23 Luby's Cafeteria patrons in Texas, have taken the lives of 155 innocent bystanders, college and secondary school students, office workers and soldiers. The shootings average 11 dead per shooting.
Those with the most to deny have begun their spin: Since the Tucson gunman wasn't babbling their names as he squeezed off a fusillade of 9-mm bullets, their speech is just harmless. Nevada's failed right-wing U.S. Senate hopeful, Sharron Angle, presumably was just being cute when she foresaw a "Second Amendment remedy" (guns) in dealing with government. Sarah Palin, whose persona is built on gun imagery, also was just being clever when placing a target symbol over Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's district on a map and calling for her ouster.
And Jesse Kelly, Giffords' tea party darling, also meant no harm in his ad, "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."
Fortunes have been made out of this violence, hatefulness and fear mongering. Beneficiaries will surely find no reward in championing a return to the tranquility of yesteryear.
Gun manufacturing is being accelerated. To find buyers, the National Rifle Association is urging state lawmakers to pass even more lenient gun "rights" laws, including arming of classroom teachers.
Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, the principal broadcast incubator for hate speech, has too much at stake to muzzle the moronic, incendiary conspiracy theories of its staff, which is tutored by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who was a dutiful soldier in the racist Nixon "Southern Strategy" of the 1960s.
Multimillionaire blogger network founders increase their wealth in direct proportion to the volume and decibels of caustic Internet e-mail.
As for politicians and their strategists who've culled whole blocs of voters from the gun-obsessed simple-minded and racist, only a fool would give such a gold mine, as it were.
In time, the Tucson shooting will merely be another date on an expanding list of massacres, not a stopping point.