Rich Lowry points out the standard poor journalism involved when covering the 2nd Amendment, this time misreporting the type of firearm used at the navy yard massacre. (Not an AR-15, as reported in a rush of wishful thinking.)
Alexis chose a weapon, as it happens, that has been endorsed and promoted by the vice president of the United States, who makes it his business to tell us which guns should be banned and which are all-American tools of self-defense. The shotgun is firmly in the latter category. Joe Biden sounded like a pitchman for Remington at a Facebook town hall earlier in the year when he urged a mother concerned about safety: “Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun.” This may be fine advice, but there should be no mistake: Shotguns are dangerous. When it comes to “the sport of killing innocent people,” almost any gun will do, especially if it is in a permissive environment where no one else is likely to be armed. This makes a hash of the conceit that the government can ban a few guns — based largely on cosmetic features — and make shooting rampages less likely.
There is no gun control agenda this side of a total ban and confiscation that would have stopped Aaron Alexis. [Something gun control advocates insist they don’t want. – ed]
The Toomey-Manchin bill could have passed Congress unanimously. The assault weapons ban could still be in place. Gun-controllers could have achieved their long-ago goal of barring the private purchase of handguns. And every step of his mayhem at the Washington Navy Yard would have been unimpeded…
Other common panaceas would have had no effect, either. Alexis bought his shotgun from a duly licensed dealer, not at a gun show. He passed a federal background check with no problem. He didn’t have a high-capacity magazine. He reportedly got the handgun or handguns he may also have used in the attack after shooting a security officer.
So the Navy Yard rampage demonstrates the essential sterility of the gun control debate, and all the ill-informed nattering that the likes of Piers Morgan can muster won’t change that fact. It is true that James Holmes and Adam Lanza used AR-15s. But Seung-Hui Cho and Jared Loughner used 9-mm semi-automatic pistols. And Aaron Alexis used a shotgun.
The common theme is that they were all deeply disturbed young men whose acts of murder had a sickening aspect of utter senselessness. The Daily News got it backwards. Its headline about the Navy Yard should have read, “Different gun, same slay.”
Maybe, just maybe, this time we can have a real debate about mental illness. To this point, we’ve had a simplistically instrumental focus. It’s like seeing a mad man wearing a tinfoil hat to protect himself from radio waves and thinking, “That’s a shame, if only we could ban tinfoil.”