On the Navy Yard shootings

So there was an awful shooting rampage Monday at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. And, as always happens after a gun-related incident in the United States, the anti-gun crowd says we need a “national dialogue” on gun control, by which they really mean that gun-rights supporters should shut up and do what they say. But yes, let’s have a dialogue. Three main points:

First, the anti-gun movement is a bunch of liars. A number of legacy media outlets, including the New York Times and the AP, reported that the Aaron Alexis, the murderer, used an AR-15. This is false, he did not. Sure, it’s easy to report erroneous facts in a developing story (particularly when you’re not too concerned to get the story right), so it may be little harsh to call them liars on that basis.

But when you’re still getting the story wrong after the facts are known, then you’re lying. The NYT has finally corrected its story some time yesterday afternoon or evening, but does not have a correction noted. The AP still has the story wrong. The NYT is now reporting (still, at this hour) that Alexis tried to buy an AR-15 but was prohibited from buying one by state law, which is also false.

The New York Daily News made the involvement of an AR-15’s its cover story yesterday, including a photograph of an unrelated medical emergency and a stock photo of an AR-15. Not having a photograph of Alexis brandishing an AR-15 (since no such photo exists), MSNBC just mocked up a graphic, which they were using long after the facts were known.

ASIDE: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow aimed higher (perhaps we should say, leaned further forward) than a particular weapon. Mass shootings, she claimed, were on the rise. Her claim is narrowly true, based on a definition of mass shootings as one with 12 or more deaths. But the number 12 was carefully selected to exploit a statistical blip. If you choose a higher or a lower number the pattern goes away, and mass shooting are down dramatically. (And, by the way, why the focus on mass shootings rather than mass killings? Is murder only bad when it’s committed with a gun?)

But the grand prize for misinformation has to go to CNN. Unable to let go of the AR-15 meme, even when it was known that Alexis used a shotgun, CNN reported that Alexis had used an “AR-15 shotgun”. That makes about as much sense as an “iPod piano”. (But these are the same people who invented the “white hispanic” category to make George Zimmerman white.)

Second, the whole premise of the argument is stupid. Suppose he had used an AR-15; so what? The AR-15 is a good weapon. That’s why it is the most popular rifle in America today. The same features that make it attractive to law-abiding citizens can also make it attractive to criminals.

Third, and more importantly, it’s high time we stopped focusing on stopping gun control and took the rhetorical offensive. (You say you want a dialog, let’s have one!) Banning guns isn’t going keep them out of the hands of criminals, who are criminals anyway after all. If you want to stop mass shootings, we should let law-abiding citizens go armed.

Nearly all mass shootings take place in gun-free zones; there is only one exception since 1950. Research shows that active killers seek out gun-free zones. Gun-free zones kill; it’s time to get rid of them.

When the University of Texas sniper struck in 1966, it wasn’t the police who stopped him. It was ordinary armed citizens who pinned him down with rifle fire until the police (with help from other ordinary citizens) could take him down. BuzzFeed has an article about nine potential mass shootings averted by armed citizens. The sailors and Marines at the Navy Yard could have dealt with Alexis quickly, but they were disarmed.

It is absolutely astonishing that members of our armed services are kept utterly defenseless at home. In the wake of the Fort Hood terror attack, it’s not just astonishing but inexcusable. People have a right to keep guns off their private property (although it’s not as though we respect any other private property rights any more), but on public property gun-free zones should go away today. They serve no purpose but to get people killed.

POSTSCRIPT: One more thing: f*** you, Alexey Pushkov.

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