IT’S a mistake to blame entirely the toxic political climate in Arizona for the shooting rampage there last week that left six people dead and 14 injured, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is still battling for her life due to a single gunshot wound to the head at point-blank range.

The troubled young gunman and college dropout had planned to assassinate the congresswoman since 2007 but did not say what his motive was.

Prosecutors have slapped the lone suspect with five federal counts in a court filing in Phoenix.

Invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, the suspect refused to talk to authorities.

A government-appointed lawyer will represent him when he goes to trial.

If convicted, he could get the death penalty.

Before this tragedy, Arizona is already known as a hotbed of intolerance.

The sheriff of Pima County where the incident happened minced no words when he said, alluding to a possible reason for the carnage, “Arizona is the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”

Arizona has been zealously enforcing harsh laws against illegal immigrants from Mexico.

The police are empowered to stop anyone for any reason and ask for their immigration papers.

In fact, the U.S. Justice Department, through the solicitor general’s office, filed suit contesting the legality of this spot check, or racial profiling, as other critics called it.

The federal judge who was among the six casualties was under police protection for sometime after ruling against a rancher who rounded up Mexican nations crossing his land.

But lawmen said he just got in the way of the gunman, and he was not a specific target, unlike Rep. Giffords.

Just the same, there is indeed a lot of anger and hatred across the country, and across the political divide.

Others see this vitriol, which is what it is, as a backdrop to the intense national discourse, on health-care reform, for instance.

The ease with which guns could be easily obtained in the market in Arizona helped lay the ground for this recent violence.

Had there been a background check on buyers, it would have shown that the applicant, in this case, had been turned down when he tried to enlist in the military.

Many other states, unlike New York, also have lenient rules on gun purchases.

The right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution.

Congress is not about to roil the waters by restricting gun possession.

But a grim lesson should be drawn from this outrage.

At the very least, Congress should enact new laws imposing stricter controls on the sale, possession and use of firearms outside of authorized law enforcement agencies and members of the U.S. armed forces.

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