Scrutinizing ‘the Internet’ when they should scrutinize the NRA

The right to bear arms already—if your gun is already drawn

Targeting the Internet versus scrutinizing the NRA:

Following up on last night’s post—

We’re not off to a good start. In the aftermath of rising gun sales and recent fatal shootings including the killing of security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns by James von Brunn at the Holocaust Memorial Museum yesterday, we need to let the sunshine in on U.S. firearms trafficking and the political insolence of the gun lobby.

Stephen Tyrone Johns

A quick run-down on how those issues are surfacing in major newspapers today:

  • The New York Times: number of times today that the National Rifle Association and/or the NRA is mentioned: 0. One article about James von Brunn’s shooting at the museum. At least the Times doesn’t blame it on the internet.
  • The Washington Post: number of times today the Post mentions the National Rifle Association or NRA: 2. One mention comes in a politics report handicapping the Virginia governor’s race; the other appears in the obituary of an NRA member. Number of times today the Post brings up the Internet in connection with violence: 3. Number of times the Post brings up the NRA, the gun industry,  firearms trafficking, or firearms in connection with violence: 0. (“Firearms” is, however, a keyword for indexing articles about the shooting and Mr. Johns’ death in the Lexis-Nexis database.)
  • Los Angeles Times: number of times today that the LATimes mentions the National Rifle Association/NRA: 0. The LATimes does not blame the internet in connection with von Brunn.
  • Chicago Tribune: Well, things are looking up. Of articles on the museum shooting in the Tribune, one article mentions that convicted felons are not supposed to be allowed to own firearms.
  • Baltimore Sun: The Sun being owned by the Tribune, the above-mentioned article from the Trib appears in the Sun. Local reporting details well von Brunn’s decades-long history as a troubled and violent personality.
  • Number of times all major U.S. newspapers, combined, raise the question how such a troubled person—with a felony conviction for attempting a “citizen’s arrest” of the Federal Reserve Board in the 1980s and a short stint in county jail for assaulting a sheriff back in the 1960s—could obtain firearms: 0.

One newspaper article today, in this generously resourced nation of ours, does bring up the issue of firearms in connection with von Brunn’s actions—to argue that gun control is futile. A gun advocate writing for the Examiner, owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz, reportedly considering buying the Boston Globe from the Times company, argues that what von Brunn was doing is illegal already:

“Item #1: As a convicted felon, von Brunn could not legally own a firearm, so when he carried what has been described as a “long rifle” or a “long gun”, he was already in violation of that particular statute.

   Item #2: It is illegal in Washington, D.C. to trot around with a gun, and illegal everywhere to enter a federal building with a firearm.

   Item #3: It is illegal to criminally assault someone with a firearm, yet that is exactly what the suspect did Wednesday.”

Ergo, laws do not work. So we should not have them.


As the argument continues,

“When is the last time anyone heard of a mass shooting at a gun range, gun show or an NRA convention? Never? Well, DUH! There’s a reason for that. As exemplified by last month’s NRA gathering in Phoenix, AZ, there was a definite armed presence; a gunman would have been met with a fusillade.”

The author seems not to connect the fact that guards at the museum were armed, although to do him justice he does mention the fact:

“This is all the more reason why law-abiding American citizens should be allowed to exercise their right to keep and bear arms virtually anywhere. Placing restrictions on legal concealed or open carry has been proven time and again to provide a risk-free working environment for lunatics bent on harming a lot of innocent people. Gun-free zones are killing fields for madmen.

   Of course, the museum is not exactly a gun-free zone. Security officers, including Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, who was fatally wounded, are armed. This incident happened very fast, Metro Police Chief Kathy Lanier said the suspect opened fire immediately when he entered the doorway of the museum. It is not clear whether Johns was able to engage and exchange shots or whether one of the other guards shot the suspect.”


So the difference between the museum—not, as the writer points out, “a gun-free zone”—and “a gun range, gun show or an NRA convention” is what? Not the presence on the scene of guns. No. The difference must be the sheer number of guns on the scene, sufficient to be a deterrent presumably, although that word is not used. But this gunman was clearly suicidal as well as homicidal, broke and in debt, barely able to make ends meet. The tragic events look like what police call “suicide by cop,” varied only slightly to become suicide by armed security guard.

Or is the difference that the guns at the museum were not already drawn? “This incident happened very fast.” In other words, as news reports indicate, von Brunn fired before the guards had time to draw their guns. Clearly guns being fired at a gun range are already drawn. But are the guns at “a gun show or an NRA convention” also already drawn? New news, if so.

von Brunn

Along these lines—Come to think of it, it would be illuminating to know what precautions the NRA takes when it fires someone.


[Editorial disclaimer: This article, deleted by the system among hundreds of articles and blog posts in summer 2011, is re-posted using archives and Word files.]

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