After Newtown, Rightbloggers Agree: Guns Don't Kill People, Everything Except Guns Kills People
After the gruesome murders of children and teachers by Adam Lanza in Newtown, Connecticut, apparently mostly performed with a Bushmaster AR-15 ("the civilian version of the military's M-16 and M-4," says the New York Times, "a logical choice for anyone whose goal is to kill a lot of people in a short time because of their ability to rapidly fire multiple high-velocity rounds"), rightbloggers were clear and united in their response: There are a lot of things that may have been the root cause of this tragedy -- a lack of God, mental illness, public schools, liberals -- but one thing that definitely had nothing at all to do with it was guns.
Robert VerBruggen of National Review scoffed that the AR-15 can't do much damage, really. "An 'assault weapon' fires at the same rate as an ordinary semiautomatic rifle," he wrote, "and the .223-caliber ammo in Lanza's rifle is banned for deer hunting in some states on the grounds that it's too weak." Maybe Lanza's pathetic weapon only killed those people because they had poor immune systems, vitiated by the stress of being murdered.
More to the point was VerBruggen's colleague, Charles C.W. Cooke, who wrote, "what is causing this is not yet known and probably underinvestigated, but it is certainly not guns... Something is awry, to be sure; to blame guns is a mistake."
What then can we get rid of besides easy general access to lethal weapons, which is of course sacrosanct, to prevent other Newtowns? Oh, just about anything else.
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit explained in a USA Today op-ed that guns don't kill people, gun-free zones do. "One of the interesting characteristics of mass shootings is that they generally occur in places where firearms are banned: malls, schools, etc.," said Reynolds. (He offered in support of his argument a quote from William Burroughs, who shot his wife to death while playing William Tell.)
Reynolds' thinking was mirrored in what became a popular theme among the brethren (and at least one Republican Congressman): that schools should be not gun-free, but fully armed, and that a picture from Israel of an armed teacher among schoolchildren proved that American schoolchildren would be safer if we only did things the way they do them in a hotly-contested desert frontier where armed factions are constantly at each other's throats -- a theory perhaps aspirational in in nature, and bred by long exposure to Westerns.
"Here's the meaningful action we should all be taking, were we truly serious about reducing the likelihood of such tragedies taking place going forward," explained Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom. "On a personal level, get a concealed carry permit, and ignore signs telling you to leave your guns in the car. If it's concealed, and they don't have metal detectors, then you aren't carrying. Until you need to defend yourself."
Well, not guns, that's for sure! Now stop asking questions!
Goldstein then started screaming at President Obama: "Michele is not the dietitian to the collective and you are not its avuncular guardian. Give up your own security detail and we can maybe have a talk about restricting gun ownership... you and your regulatory henchmen had better not try to stand between me and my ability to protect my family.. ['Progressives'] want a helpless and compliant pool to manage, the 'masses,' they like to call it, and it's a wet dream of theirs to secure not only all political power in their own hands, but all the policing power as well." Last summer Goldstein held a fundraiser "to raise the capital for at least one very good and reliable all-purpose rifle, one that I can use for defense, close quarter combat, hunting, and maybe even as a melee weapon." Guns don't kill people, but maybe to be on the safe side you should try not to live too near Jeff Goldstein.
"Gun free zones invite mad mass-murderers, say law officers," reported Jim Kouri at the Examiner. He found two law officers who expressed these sentiments in actual words: a "former Graham County, Ariz., sheriff" and a "former NYPD detective" who thought "if the school's principal had been armed and trained, she might have saved many lives." We would be interested to know if the former detective aired these opinions while on the job, as the NYPD spent many years under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani confiscating every gun they could get hold of, coinciding with a massive drop in crime. Why Giuliani didn't just distribute handguns to schoolteachers instead we can only guess.
Ace of Spades argued -- just to get it out of the way, it seems -- that liberals want to take away everybody's guns. He talked also about the nature of Evil, and said the press could help stop mass murderers, not by taking away their Second Amendment rights, but by making fun of them. "If I were the media," fantasized Spades, "I'd allow myself to get very personal in publishing accounts of these guys. Personal, and nasty." Which makes sense if you think newspapers are too nice to people who shoot up schools.
Robert Stacy McCain agreed. "Psycho, loony, bonkers, daft, zany, berserk and cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs," he rhapsodized. "Advocates for the mentally ill discourage such colloquial terms as tending to stigmatize psychiatric patients. But we might ask whether stigma -- and the consequent damage to the fragile self-esteem of kooks -- is really worse than turning loose a homicidal schizo who kills 27 people." Guns don't kill people, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest kills people. (McCain added, "You'll excuse me if I sound somewhat bitter about it... Our culture has lost all sense of perspective, of reasonable balance, so that we are unable to make common-sense judgments about risks." See, gun nuts can take the Moral High Ground too.)
When a news story appeared about a school attacker in China who used only a knife and thus killed significantly fewer children than Lanza, Spades actually said, "It's very odd timing that this story shows up now -- and I don't mean to suggest a conspiracy theory, or suggest it's a false story, or anything like that. It's just that the timing is in fact odd." (Then he parenthesized, in this week's Lack of Self-Awareness Award Winner, "It's strange that no one can say anything without a series of jam-packed implications automatically flowing from it any more.")
In a burst of scholarship, Spades also noted that there've been school shootings in namby-pamby Germany, too. "They had tough gun laws; they had a school shooting," Spades said. "They tightened those tough gun laws; they had another school shooting." Therefore, "Strict gun laws, loose gun laws: An intensely motivated lunatic is going to find a way to make his fantasy real."
Spades did not mention that the two German shootings were seven years apart, whereas in the U.S. we only have to wait months for a grisly mass-murder; nor did he mention that Germany has, in a given year, 1.1 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people, while the United States has 9.
Similarly, Glenn Reynolds wrote, "British Culture of violence: Gun crime goes up by 89% in a decade. Despite draconian gun-control laws." The UK gun-related death number per 100,000 is 0.25*. Guns don't kill people, math kills people. Later, Reynolds became so worked up by the situation that he was driven to attack Rupert Murdoch, the Darth Vader of the rightwing media Death Star, for expressing gun-control sympathies. He claimed "Murdoch keeps deleting my replies to his tweets. Tacky." Later, Reynolds extended his tweet vigilance to Michael Bloomberg. Guns don't kill people, and I will not be ignored!
Vox Day thought gun control was a bad idea, too, and that the shootings meant young'uns should be educated in the home: "Say what you will about homeschooling," he wrote, "but if your child is taught at home, he's not going to be shot there by some disgruntled school employee, student, or parent." Better to keep children out of society, then, and home where heart and the guns are. Guns don't kill people, schools kill people.
You probably saw former GOP Presidential contender Mike Huckabee's response to the incident, suggesting that guns don't kill people, lack of God in school kills people. To their credit, most of the brethren stayed away from that one -- though some, alas, couldn't resist the temptation.
"No God -- no teachings about right or wrong, and we end up with young people who have no fear of God or of violating His commands," wrote Exposing Liberal Lies. "Mike Huckabee has a point worth hearing," claimed Matt Rooney of Save Jersey.
The right-wing alterna-Twitter Twitchy took a passive-aggressive approach, saying that "while thousands sent prayers to the families in Connecticut, word of Huckabee's God-centric analysis infuriated many, particularly after his words had been passed on and reinterpreted through an online game of 'telephone.'" They then reprinted tweets from people telling Huckabee to fuck himself. Twitchy's commenters got the message: "Twitter messages you've posted on this page are 'exhibit A' that folks are abandoning God...With their vile messages they prove Huckabee right"; "WOW! Look at all the examples of godless education, with their pornographic hateful responses"; "We should offer to swap them a national ban on guns for a return to religious education in schools and a national ban on abortion," etc.
Look, who wouldn't want to live like Israelis? You get to play Cowboys and Palestinians 24/7!
Speaking of religious maniacs, Rod Dreher at The American Conservative was put in mind of... well, let him tell it: "The gun control argument that comes out every time we have something terrible like this happen reminds me of the futility of the arguments we have over teen pregnancy. Many people like to believe that the reason teenagers get pregnant is a lack of knowledge about and access to contraception. Is it really the case, in 2012, that a meaningful number of teenagers are ignorant of how one gets pregnant, and how one prevents it?... Or is there something more fundamental and mysterious at work?" Guns don't kill people, the Devil (who also impregnated 15-year-old Peggy Lou) kills people.
neo-neocon felt she had an unanswerable retort to the gun-grabbers: "the worst mass killing of schoolchildren in the US occurred in 1927, in Bath Township, Michigan," she wrote, "and involved bombs. You may never have heard of it before (perhaps because it doesn't serve the anti-gun lobby)..." Also, the Columbine shooting would seem to get an asterisk in neo-neocon's record book, because "the perpetrators had rigged the school with bombs that in their case failed to go off, but which were intended to kill plenty more." Guns don't kill people, other more rarely used weapons kill people.
And of course, guns don't kill people, liberals kill people.
"Liberal Policies Are to Blame for Today's Mass Shooting in Newtown, CT," blathered Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit. If you didn't think Hoft (whose official title, Wonkette notwithstanding, is secure) could top that headline, check his lede: "Many pundits today may be wondering what it is about Barack Obama that is causing all of these mass shootings. That's a topic for another day." Meantime, Hoft argued, liberals in toto caused the shooting because "decades of failed liberal policy have made it difficult to force people with severe mental diseases to be treated or institutionalized." It's like he never heard of Ronald Reagan. (Hoft also quoted a guy who mentioned One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.)
Twitchy headlined, "Execrable ghoul David Frum mocks victims of Conn. school shooting." Turns out Frum had written "Obviously, we need to lower the age limit for concealed carry so toddlers can defend themselves." Apparently mocking the NRA is the same as mocking the dead children, who might have had to settle for being almost-killed by a Chinese guy with a knife were it not for the efforts of the NRA. (Oops, guess we're guilty, too!)
Power Line's John Hinderaker asked why don't we take away First Amendment rights, since mass murderers all "want to go out in a blaze of notoriety," and banning news of their exploits from newspapers, TV, and the internet would prevent that. Aha! The lawyerly Hinderaker was only performing what nerds like to call a thought experiment -- his point, such as it is, being that liberals wouldn't like it if he tried to take away their precious free speech, which is clearly as dangerous as assault weapons, so we shouldn't attempt to keep powerful firearms away from dangerous lunatics. Guns don't kill people, any Amendment that we value less than the Second, which is all of them, kills people.
In many if not most cases, in their rants about how gun enthusiasts are the real victims here, rightbloggers also reminded us that anyone suggesting any restrictions on guns was "politicizing" the event. "You've got a horrible event here, and [liberals are] already looking to politicize it," swooned Rush Limbaugh. "On Cue, Left Politicizes Murders Of Children," said Godfather Politics. "U. Oregon Prof rushes to politicize CT shooting," said College Insurrection.
Obama speaking at the memorial for the dead in Connecticut was also guilty: "Obama politicizes vigil in Newtown, hints at more gun control," wrote The Right Scoop.
"For once, act like human beings," lectured Clarice Feldman of American Thinker. "Can the gun talk; hold up on the sociological musings; button your lips on all the usual chatter when horrors occur." She then laid out a guns-don't-kill-people-knives-do case using the aforementioned Chinese incident as if it supported rather than (you'll forgive the expression) cut against her point.
And why shouldn't she? The strategy, as we have seen, isn't to make any sense, but to throw up a cloud of gibberish, accompanied by a stern warning not to politicize things by mentioning the g-word, then wait until everyone has forgotten what all the trouble was about -- which should take a couple of days.
(*Update -- In the original post we actually overstated the incidence of gun killing in the UK. Corrected now; thanks, commenter kleisthenes, and apologies to Blighty.)
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- New York City's Food Pantries Are Struggling to Keep Up With a Growing Demand For Meals
Fri., Nov. 27, 6:30pm
Fri., Nov. 27, 7:00pm
Fri., Nov. 27, 7:30pm
Sat., Nov. 28, 12:00am
- As Islamophobic Rhetoric Gets Louder, NYC Muslims Fear for Their Mosques
- Forget Big Chain Theaters — Watch Movies at These Cool NYC Spots Instead