Using targets in graphics, calling political adversaries enemies, saying “if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” etc. It’s figurative. No sane person takes it literally, and no insane person is motivated by it.
Today’s shooting in Arizona clearly was not a political act. The shooter had no discernible political philosophy at all (even if his old pals say he was left-wing.) I’m pretty sure he didn’t even have any clear perception of the world around him. He was deranged. There is no deeper meaning, much as we wish that there were.
Sarah Palin, 2010
That, after all, would be easier to understand.
Yet, because of his reported drug problems and criminal record, some on the right will want to use this to push for more drug laws. (UPDATE: Yep.) Because he chose to shoot, some on the left will use it to push for gun laws. (UPDATE: and check.) Each will accuse the other of hypocrisy.
Bad things happen. This was one of them. A really, really bad thing.
Blaming your political foes for it is kind of, well, putting a target on them.