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TIME Magazine’s cover this week consisted of a list of the top mass shootings in America, faded into black from bottom to top, with Las Vegas as the anchor. A simple and effective design. In small print below read “America’s nightmare.”
When the editors of TIME designed their front page–which is a major editorial decision not left to anyone but the tippety top people–they had to decide which list to use. The list they chose was one sorted by number of people killed.
Las Vegas (2016), Orlando (2016), Virginia Tech (2007), Sandy Hook (2012), Killeen (1991), San Ysidro (1984), Edmond (1986), San Bernardino (2015), Binghamton (2009), Columbine (1999).
The list was easy for the first six. Then it became selective. The 1966 Texas Tower shootings had the same death toll as Edmond or San Bernardino, but they skipped it and went straight to Binghamton (13 dead). The Fort Hood shooting in 2009 was more recent and more injurious (13 dead, 32 injured) than Columbine (13 dead, 24 injured), but Fort Hood was not shown.
It’s a small thing though, because the bigger decision was whether to list the shootings in reverse chronological order, or by number of people killed. If it were chronological, it may have looked like this (if we set a bar of more than three killed):
Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino, Roseburg, Chattanooga, Charleston, Isla Vista, Fort Hood, Washington D.C., Santa Monica.
All of those happened since June, 2013. Five out of ten were done by radical Islamists. Two of them against military installations killing active duty military personnel. But TIME editors opted not to use a list showing Chattanooga, Fort Hood or Charleston; and the list they used obscured San Bernardino behind the masthead (it would have been prominently featured on the list above).
Why is that?
I can’t read TIME’s editors minds. I don’t know for sure what led them to choose the list they chose. But I think they chose the list very carefully and mindfully of what they wanted their readers to see.
The impact they wanted to have is the lone killer, at a night club or school campus, restaurant or public place, killing civilians with evil abandon. They didn’t want to ruin that impact with too many clear examples of radical Islamist shooters, or military being shot. That would make it harder to make the case that guns are the killers, not people with their own agendas.
Watching the national news on ABC tonight (I almost never watch television news), I noticed as they featured one of Stephen Paddock’s friends talking about his “gun room” and his support of Second Amendment rights. It smacked the viewer right on the head. They didn’t mention that someone who believed so strongly in 2A might not decide to shoot at country music fans, who tend to be from places and backgrounds where 2A has its strongest defenders, and where gun owners are common. I don’t think Paddock shot those people in the name of gun rights–but watching ABC you’d be forgiven if you came away with that impression.
Here are some of the most notable mass shootings in the U.S. in recent decades.
John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security and consultant for ABC News, said that the country “has experienced an increase in mass casualty attacks” wrought by mentally troubled individuals “who commit mass murder in furtherance of some perceived grievance or ideological cause.”
The newscast ended with “no motive” found yet for Paddock. I was asked if it really mattered what the motive was, at this point. Motives are for courtrooms. That may be true, but motives are also important to know what we’re dealing with. “No motive” is the worst possible conclusion, because then the gun grabbers can insert “gun” instead of “shooter” in their narrative. If there was no motive, the human was just an instrument to operate the gun, which actually did the killing.
There’s always a motive. The person with the motive may have been under the influence of drugs, or may have been totally insane. Paddock appeared as sober as a judge looking at all the actions and meticulous planning he did. So this was not some rage-fueled immediate break from sanity. If Paddock was insane, it was a long, slow slide into paranoia and whatever else leads someone to do this, with its manifestation hidden from just about everyone in his life (few though they were).
But even then, there’s got to be a motive. It’s important to find the motive, just like it’s important to TIME editors to display their list in just the right way to make their case.
One shooting you’ll never see
The one shooting TIME editors will never show (and it’s not on any of the lists because nobody died) is Alexandria, Virginia. That shooting was ruled an act of terrorism Friday by the commonwealth’s attorney, Bryan Porter.
James T. Hodkinson fired at least 70 rounds (per CNN) into a crowd of U.S. Congressmen practicing for a baseball game. They were all Republican. We know the motive for that shooting. It was political terrorism.
Hodgkinson, who was described by people who knew him as hot-tempered but not violent, “held strong political opinions and was very unhappy about the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” Porter’s report stated. “He spent a significant amount of time on social media, using it to express his political views, such as his strong support for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.”
Nobody died, and the motive was not one that could be blamed on the gun. You’ll never see Alexandria on the list. But it should be on every list.
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In a 41-page report released Friday, the commonwealth’s attorney for Alexandria, Bryan Porter, said two U.S. Capitol Police officers and members of the Alexandria Police Department fired at least 40 rounds responding to 66-year-old James T. Hogkinson’s assault on Republican lawmakers who had gathered at the Alexandria baseball field June 14 to practice for an upcoming charity baseball game.
The shooting at a congressional baseball practice in June and the methods of the gunman behind it are described in the starkest detail yet in a report released Friday by Virginia officials.
The chorus on the left wants everyone to be up in arms about guns. They want to focus on handguns, rifles and “bump-stocks,” because they are scary to fellow leftists who have never used one. And the ones who have used them want to use gun control as a fund raising effort.
When Democrats controlled both houses on Congress in 2010, they didn’t pass gun control. After Columbine, Binghamton, and Virginia Tech, they had the chance to pass gun control and President Obama would have signed it. They could have reimposed President Clinton’s “assault rifle” ban.
But they didn’t. They blamed the NRA, but then they campaigned against the NRA despite doing nothing.
They want to play the virtue-signaling game, but just in case they might “win” on the issue of gun control, they’d rather have Republicans back down, water down a few laws then let the courts play lawfare games with gun manufacturers and retailers.
The only way they can play that game is if friendly, compliant editors like the ones at TIME keep reminding readers of the “bad” gun shootings, while getting them to forget the ones that can’t be blamed on the gun.
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