Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 24, 2013

The Washington Navy Yard shooting highlights many serious problems


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Before the gun smoke had dispersed at the Washington Navy Yard, the agenda media reacted with a kind of grim glee that an “assault weapon” — an AR-15 — had been used yet again in a mass shooting.

The New York Daily News devoted its entire front page to the story with the headline, “Same Gun Different Slay,” in letters so big they took up two-thirds of the page. Inside the publication was an anti-gun column by Mike Lupica titled, “AR-15 is the rifle for the ‘sport’ of hunting humans.”

MSNBC even used an animation of the shooting, featuring an AR-15, while CNN’s Piers Morgan said, “He was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, another rifle and a handgun.”

The Washington Post asked how the suspected shooter, Aaron Alexis, acquired “his weapons (an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol were reportedly found on him).”

Some of this results from the drive to get news out first. But hardly all of it.

And then, of course, the politicians got into the act.

“A gunman appeared with an assault rifle, and several other weapons,” said Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin on the Senate floor.

California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a statement which read, “This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time.”

Even the hallowed halls of academia were not immune to the ranting of the unhinged. (Surprise, surprise, surprise!!)

“#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA,” tweeted David Guth, an associate professor of Journalism at the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism. “Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters,” he continued. “Shame on you. May God damn you.”

To its credit, the University suspended Guth. With such as this in journalism classrooms, it’s no wonder there is bias in the news media.

“The contents of Guth’s tweet were repugnant and in no way represent the views or opinions of the University of Kansas,” an official statement said. Whether UK works like the federal government, and keeps suspended misbehavers on the payroll, it didn’t say.

Well, Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Durbin, Prof. Guth, et al, we certainly have had enough of these incidents. But we’ve also had enough of you folks and your misinforming cronies in the media allowing your emotions and your prejudices to commandeer your thought process and produce automatic responses that are so grossly wrong.

The shooter had only his own recently and legally acquired shotgun when he started the rampage, and is thought to have taken a handgun from one of his security officer victims along the way. No “assault rifle” was involved.

Moving from the thoughtless responses of these demagogues to the somber realities and serious issues that exist, we need to recognize that the most serious of these is clearly not a need for more gun control.

Washington has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and the Navy Yard prohibits weapons being carried by anyone except for military police and other law enforcement and security personnel; not even trained military personnel who may carry weapons when they are deployed can carry a weapon on the Yard.

Alexis, who worked for a civilian contractor at the Navy Yard, had a history of arrests for weapons violations and mental health issues. Except for him, the military and civilian personnel assigned to and working at the Navy Yard obeyed the rules and didn’t bring guns to the Yard. Stronger gun laws would have made no difference at all.

Like gun-free schools without armed security, gun-free military bases have become shooting galleries for people who do not obey gun control laws and want to do bad things.

All kinds of screw-ups took place here, among which are:

• Lousy security checks: Given his criminal and mental health past, how was Alexis able to legally obtain the shotgun and a security clearance?

• Dumb rules about weapons on military facilities: On both Ft. Hood and the Navy Yard, had military personnel carried weapons, the shooters might never have planned those attacks, but they almost certainly would have done far less damage.

• The base security staff was undermanned when the shooting started, and had to close the gates to the base so they could respond to the emergency, and that interfered with civilian police trying to get on the base to help.

Media knee-jerk misinformation appears to have emanated from an anti-gun mentality that leads to a shoot first, get details later process.

At least the media didn’t try to associate Alexis with Tea Party organizations or the Republican Party, as has often occurred in the past; they would have been wrong about that, too. A friend of Aaron Alexis, Michael Ritrovato, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he was “more of a liberal type, not conservative like I am.”

Let’s hold our breath to see how the media distort the coming debate over raising the debt ceiling yet again and a possible government shutdown.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.