Jared Lee Loughner is being described as a socially awkward loner who has exhibited violent behaviors in the past. After being suspended from Pima Community College for numerous run-ins with campus police, he dropped out when he refused to prove that he was mentally fit to return to classes. New reports are stating that Loughner likely suffers from undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. It is also now known that Loughner was rejected from the Army for a failed drug test, although the drug that was found is not known.
How does Loughner compare to other famous assassins in history?
John Hinckley is famous for his attempt on President Reagan’s life in March of 1981. Obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, Hinckley wrote her a letter, speaking of his plan to assassinate Reagan. His entire motive in assassinating the President was to impress Foster.
As Reagan and some staffers made their way to a labor convention, Hinckley opened fired and struck Reagan in the left chest, Press Secretary James Brady in the left temple, a police officer in the neck and a security agent in the stomach. Thankfully, he failed in his attempt on the President’s life, but James Brady will forever be reminded of that day, having lived his life since then permanently handicapped. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity at his trial.
John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth was a Confederate sympathizer who initially plotted to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln and take him to the Confederate capital in Richmond. When that plan fell through, his thoughts moved to that of assassination. The plan wasn’t to just assassinate the President, however. In addition to Lincoln, Booth also plotted to take out the Vice President and Secretary of State while they were in attendance at the Ford Theater. He thought this would throw the government into a volatile state and save the Confederacy. While Booth was successful in assassinating Lincoln, he failed to weaken the government and failed to save the Confederacy. Booth escaped the theater after being chased, but was later killed in pursuit a couple of weeks later.
Nathuram Godse was a Hindu extremist who assassinated fellow Hindu Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. Ghandi was on his way to a prayer meeting when Godse stepped in front of him, greeted him, and then shot him three times. Godse felt that Ghandi had betrayed his fellow Hindus by sympathizing with the Muslims and supporting them having their own state in Pakistan. Godse attempted to take his own life immediately after he took Ghandi’s, but was stopped by police and an angry crowd.
While Loughner’s motives have not been confirmed, we can only assume that they were politically motivated like those of Booth and Godse. But why? Why Giffords? His rants are said to exhibit distrust and paranoia, but what did he have to gain if he assassinated Giffords? Instead, he killed six innocent people, including a 9-year-old girl. Insane or not, he still faces an uphill battle in getting off easy thanks to his counterpart, Hinckley. Hinckley’s insanity defense got him off in his attempt on Reagan’s life and the government will be sure to not let that happen again with Loughner.
So does the Tucson tragedy qualify as an assassination attempt? Absolutely. I think anytime anyone is gunned down in cold blood, as exhibited throughout history, it can be considered an assassination.
Arizona suspect could face death in deadly attack, Yahoo! News
Jared Lee Loughner: what is known about Tucson, Arizona, shooting suspect, Christian Science Monitor
Mental Health Warnings Preceded Rampage, as Arizona Gunman Likely Went Untreated , Fox News
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law