One of the first news stories I saw this morning dealt with the funerals for several of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. This sad process will be playing out throughout the week and the people of the city are still understandably in mourning. But that didn’t stop the editorial board of the Washington Post from leaping out there with an attempt to politicize the shooting by demanding new gun control laws. I suppose we should give them credit for waiting until Monday to use Saturday’s attack in this fashion. Two whole days.
Once again, a piece of America had been turned into a war zone. Once again, the casualties were innocent people engaged in the rhythms of everyday life — this time, mostly elderly people practicing their religion. Once again, the question must be asked of what it will take — how many more mass shootings, lost lives and devastated communities — before Congress enacts sensible gun control that includes banning weapons designed for war.
According to authorities, the accused murderer in Saturday’s shooting — a 46-year-old man who reportedly proclaimed he wanted “all Jews to die” — was armed with three handguns and an AR-15, all of which he legally owned. The AR-15 or a variation of it has been used in other terrible, tragic mass shootings…
Of course, there’s more on the table for the WaPo editors than just another attempt at banning “assault rifles.” Even in the unlikely event that such a bill made it into law, that would only be a bonus. In the conclusion of this editorial we see the real message they’re trying to get across. Vote for Democrats next Tuesday.
But voters next week will have the chance to send their own message. They should elect a Congress that will protect them by enacting long-overdue gun reform that includes getting weapons of war off America’s streets and out of its schools, theaters, churches and synagogues.
They’re not even attempting to hide their partisan support for one party over the other at this point. The editors of the Washington Post are putting it right out there in black and white for you. A vote for Republicans is a vote for shooting up schools, theaters, churches and synagogues.
Sadly, this leaves those more anchored in reality to dredge up yet again the standard response to the WaPo when we should be focused on supporting the healing of the community in Pittsburgh. The Tree of Life shooter did not have an “assault rifle.” He had an AR-15 and a couple of handguns. He passed at least a half dozen background checks and was fully licensed. He had no identifiable history of either mental illness or violent criminal conduct. He had posted awful things on social media to be sure, but that’s free speech and we don’t restrict it or use it as a basis to retract everyone’s constitutional rights. The system has no capacity to anticipate when such a person will go totally off the rails.
Just banning AR-15s because they “look scary” doesn’t do much for your argument either. There are other semi-automatic rifles on the market without forward grips or collapsible stocks and they can be fired just as rapidly. As for extended magazines, with a reasonable amount of practice, you can swap out a magazine in under a second. And let’s keep in mind what portion of the problem you’re actually trying to solve. The WaPo editors give a disingenuous tip of the hat to the statistics by saying that mass shootings “account for a minority of gun fatalities.” That’s putting it generously. Even using the preposterous definition of a “mass shooting” favored by the media (three or more people shot in “the same general time and location”) you’re talking about a tiny percentage of all gun-related homicides in the country. Most are accounted for by gang violence, not that you ever hear about that from the Washington Post.
This is a simply shameful display. Using the Tree of Life shooting to blatantly gin up votes for Democrats a week before the election should have been too embarrassing for even the Washington Post. But it wasn’t.