This is not an apologist article for Jared Loughner; a cursory glance at Google, his YouTube page (reproduced elsewhere) or even The Guardian all give an indication that this was one seriously disturbed individual.
What this article is is a reply to this article, in many ways not dissimilar to Dr. North's article for the Sunday Fail this week:
Naturally the BBC is drawing it's own nudged-left conclusion; that politicians of all stripes need to be put out of harms reach to get on with the busy job of running our lives for us. But, as the good Dr. North points out it is exactly this mentality, this elitist protectionism that sees our own politicians hide behind barricades of concrete and armed police officers, that leads to this disconnect from
what voters actually want.
I don't think Mrs. Gifford could give Mr. Loughner what he wanted; I doubt anyone outside of the mental health profession could; but we need to look at the numbers.
Taking a rough guestimate the number of assassinations based on the figures in the Beebs article leads to ~0.2 murders per year over the last 33 years - adjusted crudely for the number of politicians in the US Congress (upper & lower houses: 541) you have a 0.036% chance of being murdered in your duties as a professional politician*.
Now compare this to the US civilian murder rate of 0.054% and we find that for sticking your head above the parapet and proclaiming your views to the chattering, agreeing masses you therefore increase your chances sevenfold: 0.036/0.0054 = ~7x increase in your death as a professional mouth.
Is this that great an increase? I cannot hope to judge but there is another figure this should be compared to: US Soldier deaths in combat.
Taking the value for US KIAs for Iraq compared to the volume of troops at it's peak we find there yearly chance of death is 0.36%**; a whole ~70-fold increased chance of being killed walking down a US street and 10-fold chance than the ones who put you in harms way.
These events, though terrible, are rare; we shouldn't seek to insulate our political leaders anymore as that will merely exacerbate problems which should not be insurmountable but quickly become vitriolic when they are ignored.
Here in the UK we should start by reducing what the state is responsible for, making them guardians of our laws again and not their arbiters; they might find less need for armed guards then.
* = it should be noted that this figure dies not include local political officers, city councilmen and town mayors despite them receiving the brunt of assassination attempts in the Beebs noted cases; factoring in these groups would take too long to tally but would likely lower the percentage chance massively.
** = Iraq war casualties since efforts began: 4404 (to may last year) therefore (4404/~7 years)/176000 troops serving the peak of Iraq war = ~0.36%