Gun control opportunists have wasted no time exploiting the serial sniper shootings as if on a mission to undermine those who insist they be taken seriously.
Sarah Brady, bless her misguided heart, issued a statement on the sniper shootings, which unmistakably implied that tighter federal gun control laws could have prevented the killings ("sensible gun laws can ... prevent gun violence"). She said that according to police, the shooter could be using one of four possible firearms, three of which are assault rifles -- then warned that the federal assault weapons ban expires September 2004.
Putting aside the rampant disinformation out there about what constitutes an assault weapon, Mrs. Brady's argument is flawed. If the assault weapons ban didn't prevent these killings, presumably by an assault weapon, how do the killings logically argue for an extension of the ban?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't this make a great soundbite for the NRA and the rest of us cliché-spewing Neanderthals who believe that if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns?
Before closing, Mrs. Brady takes a gratuitous shot, so to speak, at the demonic NRA, for promoting "the dangerous notion that 'an armed society is a polite society.'" "Sadly," says Brady, "far too many Americans every year pay the consequences of the NRA's 'polite society' with their lives."
Aha! Here we have fodder for another soundbite for us conspiracy theory Cro-Magnons who suspect that many of the gun-control zealots want to emasculate, if not repeal the Second Amendment and disarm America? How else can we interpret her statement that an armed citizenry is a dangerous idea? And don't try to squirrel out of it, you of the gun control cult, by saying she was only objecting to the "polite society" part of the NRA's statement. Sorry, that dog won't hunt.
And if there was any doubt that Mrs. Brady meant to suggest that stricter laws would have prevented the shootings, she removed it in a follow up fundraising request to her donors where she asked for a "generous donation" to "prevent tragedies like these."
Meanwhile, over in the hallowed halls of Congress, John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, weighed in. Conyers' target, another favorite scapegoat of the anti self-defense lobby, was certain gun manufacturers who, he says, are marketing "sniper rifles" so as to "intentionally appeal to law breakers."
Next, we have Tom Diaz, with the Violence Policy Center, who took it a step further. "It is clear," said Diaz, "the gun industry stands ready to arm and train anyone with the fantasy of being a real life sniper. Tragically, the nation is now witnessing the horror of that potential realized." Amazingly, he seems to be saying the murderer (who has yet to be identified) is the product of the gun industry's ambition to arm and train snipers. If he would attach a name to that absurd and irresponsible charge it would be actionable defamation.
And let's not forget New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who in his seeming compulsion to prove his foreign policy expertise with every stroke of his Pulitzer pen, managed to tie the sniper shootings to President Bush's "obsession" with Iraq. "The fact that the president speaks only about Iraq (no, that's you, Tom), while his neighbors down the street speak only about the shooter, reinforces the sense that this administration is so obsessed with Saddam it has lost touch with the real anxieties of many Americans. Mr. Bush wants to rally the nation to impose gun control on Baghdad, but he won't lift a finger to impose gun control on Bethesda, six miles from the White House."
Is not Mr. Friedman, like the rest of the suspects above, insinuating that better gun control laws could have prevented the sniper killings? If not, then why is he talking about gun control in the context of the sniper shootings? Why does he close his column by saying he doesn't "want to hear another word about Iraq right now," but wants to hear that the president and Congress "are taking real steps needed" to keep America from becoming like Iraq, "starting with sane gun control and sane economic policy."
While the gun control lobby is fond of portraying Second Amendment defenders as paramilitary kooks, they are the ones who repeatedly exploit tragedies to further their political agenda and forever blame anyone or anything other than the wrongdoers.