10 January 2011

The Gray Lady goes 1 for 2 on Tucson shooting

Credit where credit is due, the Times' editorial department remembered that it can do more than produce birdcage liner following the tragic shooting of US. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this past weekend.  Ignoring the inevitable pushback from the usual suspects dothing their deflective best to protest too much, the NYT stepped up to the plate, albeit with mixed results.

First came the triple:

"It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman's act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people."

Unfortunately, they followed up with a one-hopper back to the mound:

"(Arizona's) gun laws are among the most lenient, allowing even a disturbed man like Mr. Loughner to buy a pistol and carry it concealed without a special permit. That was before the Tucson rampage. Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments."

Arizona's gun laws, however an appealing target they may seem right now, weren't the problem, here.  First off, as foolish as such a law may seem on its face, the fact that Arizona doesn't require a permit for concealed carry is beyond irrelevant.  Does anyone really believe that if a permit were necessary, Loughner would've cursed its inconvenience and A.) scrapped his plan, or B.) decided that, while he is still down with the whole "assassination" thing, he'll carefully observe the local gun laws in the meantime and proceed to the supermarket event, openly be-Glocked, for all of the world and law enforcement to see?

Secondly, while plenty of anecdotes have emerged to show just how disturbed Loughner was/is, what was the actual paper trail?  He wasn't a felon.  He hadn't been committed.  He wasn't the object of a personal protection order.  Beyond his bizarre YouTube videos, he flunked a military enlistment drug screen and got himself suspended--and later withdrew--from a community college.  What sort of background check would've caught any of that?

In this post-Heller America, any gun regulation is going to be an uphill slog.  And as much as Jared Loughner might look like the perfect poster-boy to rally people to make that climb, even a cursory review of the facts should've shown the NYT editors that his is a narrative that doesn't have a chance of holding up to the scrutiny it would surely face.

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