US President Barack Obama travelled to Tucson, Arizona late on Wednesday to mourn the victims of last week’s shooting that killed six people.
Gunman Jared Loughner’s attack also left a dozen wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who is fighting for her life after being shot in the head.
Obama said he did not know what prompted the gunman to cause such carnage, but asked Americans not to jump to “simple explanations,”:
“Bad things happen, we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath,” he told
a packed auditorium of more than 14,000 people at the University of Arizona.
“But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other.”
Some commentators have suggested that the political rhetoric used by Tea Party activists during the recent midterm elections could have inspired the attack.
Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin dismissed the idea as “blood libel.”
“Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn,” she said.
As the debate rages, Americans laid flowers and left messages of goodwill outside the hospital where Giffords remains in a critical condition.