In this column, A1F Daily trains its watchdog eye on The Trace, Michael Bloomberg’s anti-“gun news” site.
On Sunday, Aug. 27, The Trace used the infamous on-air murder of a television reporter and her cameraman partner to draw similarities between deranged, narcissistic mass murderers and millions of lawful American gun owners who have never committed a crime.
Bear with us as we trace author Adam Weinstein’s logic. He is furthering an assumption often repeated by those who fear law-abiding gun owners—the belief that a gun gives its bearer feelings of power and invincibility.
To back up this assumption, he borrows from the manifesto of the 2014 Isla Vista, Calif., killer: “After I picked up the handgun, I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power.” (Weinstein ignores the inconvenient fact that this murderer first stabbed three people to death before he shot three more at random, then injured 14 more by running them down with his car.)Of course, the problem with Weinstein’s bipolar fantasy about gun owners is obvious: Crazed killers pile up tragic death tolls, and lawful gun owners do not.
Weinstein goes on to write, “There can be no crazier feeling than that, and no more depraved act than the one this killer took in his next moments … But here in this country, such thoughts, such actions, such moments—they are not abnormal.”
Wait … what? Exactly which of the above thoughts are not abnormal? Weinstein plows on: “They are a product of what guns have become in America: not sometimes-tools, not peacemakers, but magical signifiers to ‘good’ guys and ‘bad’ guys alike.”
All you duck hunters, target shooters, weekend plinkers, competitors, trap shooters, deer hunters, collectors, security personnel, police, and servicemen and servicewomen will be surprised to learn that your guns are no longer ‘sometimes-tools’; they define you as either: 1) a powerful, unstable killer; or 2) a powerful, unstable vigilante.
“To both sides, the firearm is power incarnate,” Weinstein intones. “… violent men are trying to be the heroes in their own real-life first-person shoot-’em-ups. Other citizens are trying to be the heroes that will shoot the killers.” He means you, in case you don’t recognize yourself there, Batman.
Of course, the problem with Weinstein’s bipolar fantasy about gun owners is obvious: Crazed killers pile up tragic death tolls, and lawful gun owners do not—a pretty big distinction to be so casually overlooked.
Our friend Cam Edwards at NRANews.com characterized this belief like this: “Saying criminals and gun owners are both part of the ‘gun culture’ is like saying drunk drivers and NASCAR drivers are both part of the ‘car culture.’”
On the afternoon of the Roanoke shootings, Weinstein got help in smearing gun owners when Hillary Clinton posted on her Facebook page: “A lot of these ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws need to be rewritten. If you have to defend yourself, OK. But look at some of the instances we’ve had—Trayvon Martin, and too many more.”
What in heaven’s name prompted Hillary to post this on the same day as the murders is unfathomable, but when she attacks Stand Your Ground laws, she, too, characterizes gun owners as vigilantes. Like other anti-gunners, she leads with George Zimmerman’s trials to demonstrate the alarming empowering effect of bearing arms, alluding to “too many more” like him. But could she at least once enumerate exactly how many more? With nearly 13 million concealed-carry permit holders in the United States, couldn’t Clinton and other gun-banners find some data to back up their claim that these gun owners shoot first and ask questions later? But no, it’s always Zimmerman—who, incidentally, was acquitted by a jury of his peers, and even Eric Holder’s all-powerful Department of Justice was unable to indict him.
Clinton wasn’t finished with us yet: “Nobody should want to create circumstances in which innocent, unarmed people are killed … by civilians wielding guns.” She’s right about one thing: No one wants to create those circumstances … so they haven’t. Her throngs of innocent victims mowed down by armed vigilantes is no more real than Weinstein’s zombie horde of armed wannabe X-Men. “We’ve got to figure out how to deal with that.” Ms. Clinton, excuse us if we don’t want you to figure out how to deal with us while you sit in the Oval Office.
Clinton summed up her post with this tidbit of wisdom: “We’ve got to figure out how to deal with that.” Ms. Clinton, excuse us if we don’t want you to figure out how to deal with us while you sit in the Oval Office.
If Clinton and Weinstein want to play amateur sociologists and figure something out, they can start with the very real possibility that the Roanoke killer is the harbinger of a new phenomenon—the mass murderer who plays out his final fantasy for us in real time, on our Web browser.
Feeling obligated to watch the killer’s own video, the possibility dawns on Weinstein that the murderer draws out the crime, “Like he wants to be noticed, there, with his gun. Like it was as important to be seen as to be killing.” Duh. Weinstein has hit on something here, albeit tardily: This is the evolution of the alienated, mentally ill mass murderer who can only gain attention by committing the ultimate heinous act before going out in a blaze of (in)glory. For this new kind of killer, it’s not enough just to have his name emblazoned across the media after his demise; he must broadcast it live.
This killer has his roots in the barricaded suspect, holding hostages and demanding his 15 minutes of fame before committing suicide by cop. Only now, his smartphone allows him to cut out the middleman; social media gives him access to his own broadcast medium.
A sub-brand of this killer is represented by the two armed California men who recently live-streamed their hunt for a third man, whom they thought was sleeping with one of their girlfriends. They made their intention to kill him clear, and fired their gun in response to a real-time viewer’s comment that it “didn’t look real.” They exemplify the criminal for whom the prospect of arrest and punishment ranks far down the list of consequences of a life of crime. In their social circles, it is far better to be caught with a gun than to be caught without one.
Perhaps Bloomberg, who appears to be poised to lay off 90 of his journalists across the world, could use the savings to focus on these real murderers, instead of trying to demonize gun owners as zombie Dirty Harrys who, intoxicated with their “sometimes-tools,” are just itching to stop a convenience store robbery—and don’t care who they have to kill to do it.
If this is what The Trace truly believes, then 60 million gun owners know who the tool is.