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Americans polled see no link between rhetoric and rampage

Americans see no link to politics

LOS ANGELES — A majority of Americans said they did not believe that harsh political rhetoric was the reason a gunman opened fire over the weekend in Tucson, according to a CBS News poll released Tuesday.

The finding comes as Republicans and Democrats have sparred over whether recent heated political rhetoric may have been a factor in the shootings. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, was among 20 lawmakers targeted in campaign literature by Sarah Palin.

Conservatives have bristled in recent days at suggestions that there was a political motive in the shootings. Investigators have said they believe the attack was carried out by a lone suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, who faces five counts of murder and attempted murder of federal employees. Loughner has expressed distrust of government and personal animosity toward Giffords, according to investigators.

According to the CBS News poll, 57 percent of those surveyed said the strident tones that have marked the national political debate in recent years had nothing to do with the shooting. The poll found that 32 percent said political language played a part.

But as with many other issues, the results were sharply different depending on the respondents' political identifications.

Republicans overwhelmingly rejected the political narrative, by 69 percent to 19 percent. Democrats were more narrowly split, with 49 percent rejecting a role for political rhetoric and 42 percent accepting it. Independents rejected a political narrative by 56 percent to 33 percent.

The poll was based on interviews with 673 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

State moves to block picketing of funerals

Arizona legislators quickly approved emergency legislation Tuesday to head off picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., near the funeral service for a 9-year-old girl who was killed during Saturday's shooting in Tucson.

Without specifically mentioning the Tucson shooting, the proposed law would prohibit protests at or near funeral sites.

Dozens of lawmakers co-sponsored the bill, and legislative action was completed within 90 minutes. The Senate's committee hearing took just three minutes.

The fundamentalist church says it plans to picket Thursday's funeral for Christina Taylor Green because "God sent the shooter to deal with idolatrous America." The church has picketed many military funerals to draw attention to its view that the deaths are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a church member and a daughter of its pastor, said the prohibition wouldn't matter because church members plan to picket at one of two intersections more than 1,000 feet from the church where the girl's service will be held.

Senator wants tighter federal gun laws

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Tuesday called for tougher federal gun laws, including banning large ammunition clips and federal regulations on concealed weapons permits, in the wake of the shooting rampage.

Boxer said the FBI also should keep track of seriously mentally ill people with a history of violence to ensure they cannot secure gun permits. Loughner, the shooting suspect, has a history of mental disturbance, authorities say.

Boxer said Congress should consider reinstating the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The law banned ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets.

Americans polled see no link between rhetoric and rampage 01/11/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:54pm]
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