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Responsibility for the Arizona Rampage Goes Beyond the Shooter, Says Law Professor and Psychologist

Release Date: January 10, 2011

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The blame for the Tucson, Ariz., killings does not lie with the perpetrator alone, says Charles Patrick Ewing, a UB law professor and psychologist.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Although this weekend's killings in Tucson, Ariz., appear to be the work of a mentally ill individual, University at Buffalo Law School Professor and psychologist Charles Patrick Ewing says it's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of the mentally ill are not violent or dangerous.

Ewing, a national expert on criminal behavior and author of several books on forensic psychology and violent criminals, says although this vast majority of the mentally ill will never commit such acts of mass murder, influential politicians and commentators who preach hatred and revenge should shoulder some of the blame for this and other violent rampages.

"These influential politicians and commentators who use violent rhetoric and images -- such as putting a member of Congress in the crosshairs, telling supporters that it is time to 'reload' and suggesting that voters unhappy with Congress resort to 'Second Amendment remedies' -- must realize that they have an incredibly wide audience," says Ewing. "At least some members of that audience (both sane and insane) will view their inflammatory statements as an invitation to violence.

"One thing is certain," Ewing says. "The blame for these killings does not lie with the perpetrator alone."

Twenty-two-year-old Jared Loughner was scheduled to face a federal court hearing Monday on charges he tried to assassinate U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Saturday outside a Tucson supermarket. The shootings left six people dead and 14 people, including Giffords, injured.

Loughner has a long history of unstable behavior as well as drug and substance abuse. He also has had a series of confrontations with police due to disruptive behavior at the community college he was attending.

Ewing is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and a national expert on the insanity defense who is frequently interviewed on the motivation of violent criminals.

Ewing is available for interviews by contacting him by email at cewing@buffalo.edu, or calling Charles Anzalone in the University at Buffalo's Office of Communications at 716-645-4600.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact Information

Charles Anzalone
Senior Editor, Law, Social Work and Education
Tel: 716-645-4600
anzalon@buffalo.edu