If you’ve ever heard the phrase “May you live in interesting times” then you understand why it seems so apropos these days.
Dylan Roof, pictured below, was a poster boy of how the system has failed to stop mass shootings yet again.
He killed 9 and wounded 1, seeking out South Carolina State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, who was the pastor for the church.
In the days after the shooting took place, the narrative began to take shape – Roof had been arrested for drug possession. Roof was awaiting trial. Somehow he’d gotten a gun – early reports stated that Roof had been given it by family. It seemed like this was going to be seized upon as evidence that Universal Background Checks needed to be passed, lest another tragedy like this take place.
Then, just before the UBC bandwagon could reach full speed, law enforcement sources revealed that Roof had purchased the gun at a store and filled out the necessary background check paperwork.
Roof should have been prohibited from buying the gun – under federal law those facing charges where they may be imprisoned for over a year are not allowed to own or purchase firearms. When Roof filled out his 4473 to purchase the murder weapon, he lied. This lie should have been caught by the NICS system, but his arresting paperwork hadn’t been filed properly.
The Narrative had changed. Robbed of their opportunity to blame the “gun show loophole” for this atrocity, the people upset by this pivoted and went after another the Confederate Flag which was prominently featured in Roof’s social media profile and symbolized the racist views expressed in his manifesto.
Ironically, Pinckney had voted against South Carolina’s laws that would have repealed prohibition of concealed carry in churches without the express approval of church staff. Obviously the law failed to stop the shooting.
In the aftermath of Charleston, President Obama made a number of statements, but in one televised address he suggested that the US should follow Australia’s example:
When Australia had a mass killing – I think it was in Tasmania – about 25 years ago, it was just so shocking the entire country said ‘well we’re going to completely change our gun laws’, and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.
This was important, because Australia did several things: They banned multiple classes of firearms, and they confiscated privately owned weapons under the guise of a mandatory “buy back”.
Never before has this been suggested at such a high level in this country. Previously politicians may have suggested confiscation obliquely, or in unguarded moment, but for a sitting President to state it outright was an eye opening moment.
A few weeks later, on July 16, there was another mass shooting. In contrast to the Charlestown one, this shooting was carried out by a self-radicalized homegrown Islamic extremist decided to target a Chattanooga, TN recruiting office and then a Navy Reserves center. Local law enforcement chased him down, and killed him shortly thereafter.
FBI officials and the media quickly played down any attempt to classify the shooter as a “terrorist” despite him travelling to Jordan shortly before the attack took place.
The perpetrator was revealed to be Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who carried out the attack with an AK-47 style rifle, a pistol, and possibly a shotgun. Four Marines were killed at the scene while Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith died later at a hospital.
The Brady Center and other antigun groups didn’t waste any time in immediately calling for more gun control, despite not knowing how the firearms were obtained. The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation stated that
“Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been,”
Attempts were made to try to highlight the need for a renewed assault weapons ban, others wanted to focus on Armslist. Instead, the public reacted in a wholly unexpected way; they were outraged that military personnel were unable to defend themselves.
Paradoxically, though, people remembered that the military areas were gun free zones – press pool photos and footage showed the front doors of the Marine recruiting center riddled with bullet holes, next to a “Firearms Prohibited” sign.
Despite this, the intended victims fought back. This was confirmed by statements from various military officials: the Marines did not run, and did not die laying down. At least one Marine and one Navy officer had fought back with personally owned firearms – despite standing orders prohibiting having them. No information has been provided on how many lives were saved as a result.
The reaction was swift. Private citizens showed up in droves to guard the “defenseless” recruiters. Senior military officials didn’t like that, viewing them as a security threat. Naturally, it didn’t take long before someone showed off their lack of safe firearms handling skills by having a negligent discharge in the parking lot – and no one was surprised when this individual had previously had firearms confiscated for doing the exact same thing.
Politicians also seized upon the incident – Senator Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation end gun free zones on military installations:
The Safeguarding Service Members’ Second Amendment Rights Act, would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms on Armed Forces military installations and Department of Defense (DoD) sites and prohibit the president, secretary of defense and secretaries of military departments from enacting similar restrictions or prohibitions in the future.
Governors in at least a half dozen states ordered that National Guardsmen be armed. In lieu of active forms of protection, some areas decided that to ‘turtle up’ and stacked sandbags inside recruiters offices.
The antigun side of the debate was not faring well in the court of public opinion.
(Un)fortunately, they soon had another chance to make their opinions heard.
On July 23, John Russel Houser opened fire in the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette LA, during a showing of Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” – killing two, wounding multiple others, then killing himself after seeing the police arrive on scene.
Details about the shooter quickly made their way into the media: Houser had been involuntarily committed by his family. Houser had been convicted of arson. Houser admired Hitler & the Tea Party, and hated President Obama.
You could practically see the antigun talking heads rubbing their hands with glee over this. They had their perfect example for why gun laws needed to change. Clearly there was no way that this guy had gotten his gun legally, right?
Turns out that despite a well documented history of domestic violence, arson, and involuntary commitment, Houser was never actually prosecuted. All of this could have been avoided had he been convicted for arson back in 1989, and “[c]ourt documents filed as part of a divorce say Houser had a history of hospitalizations for mental conditions.”
Usually involuntary commitment makes someone a prohibited person in the eyes of the ATF. Unfortunately, the system failed in this case too:
Politics waits for no man, though, so at this time various parties are still spinning and attempting to control the message.
Presidential candidate & Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal suspended his Presidential campaign to handle situation and urged other states to tighten their reporting of prohibited persons like Louisiana has done. Reactions to this ranged from New York Times claiming he wanted toughen gun laws (instead of the more accurate description of improving proper reporting compliance) to Wonkette’s ever so classy accusation that he was giving the NRA a rimjob. A Buzzfeed editor showed her overt bias by stating don’t pray, push for more gun control – and got called out for it, resulting in an apology from her superiors.
There seems to be indications that gun control proponents have decided it’s finally time to start calling for the removal of the 2nd Amendment altogether, or at least curtail it severely.
Legendary attorney Alan Dershowitz stated in an interview:
We have tried an experiment for the last 250 years and it’s failed miserably and we have to start a new approach. The new approach has to be guns should not be available to people generally, except if they have a significant need.
Surprisingly, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was actually ahead of this wave, stating in early July:
“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.
A few days earlier, she said in Hanover, N.H.: “We have to take on the gun lobby. . . . This is a controversial issue. I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.”
President Obama, who stated outright that gun control was his biggest disappointment with his time in office, said that he was going to devote the last 18 months of his term to gun control and that gun ownership was a bigger problem than terrorism
Even Bernie Sanders has gotten in on the gun control bandwagon, saying “certain types of guns, used to kill people exclusively, not for hunting, they should not be sold in the United States of America” – apparently not realizing that this effectively be every self defense firearm in the country.
Antigun media allies certainly haven’t changed their tune:
- Salon – How many Americans must die before we rethink the Second Amendment?
- Bloomberg – NRA Promises Apocalypse Now
- MSNBC – Ex-Air Force officer: Gun laws, not ‘gun-free zones,’ are the real problem – this article in particular irritated me as it was blatant hand waving attempting to distract from the fact that each of the areas targeted was a gun-free zone.
Interestingly enough, the American public doesn’t seem to agree with the media, politicians, or celebrities, as a recent opinion poll revealed that more Americans see guns as the solution, not the problem
Fake update: It would appear that I’m not alone in noticing this trend:
Business Insider: The dark reason why guns are virtually guaranteed to be a major issue of the 2016 campaign
After years of ducking presidential-campaign battles over gun laws out of fear of the powerful gun lobby, it appears that Democrats are finally ready to go on the offensive.
Democrats are becoming more and more outspoken about gun violence in the wake of seemingly ever increasing mass shootings, despite the fact that the American public remains as opposed as ever to many gun-control measures
It remains to be seen whether this represents a turning point in election politics, or a repeat of Clinton’s 1994 mistake.