Over the Big Dumb Target

For all the hubbub, there seems to be very little to make of the Alexandria shooting apart from the usual alarming features: a psychopath with a gun (may he rest in peace) attempted to kill numerous innocent people for some insane, inscrutable reason. Surely, politics played a nominal role in the whole affair—there’s a reason the guy didn’t shoot up the National Zoo, for instance—but nominal was very likely as far as it get: one is obliged to point out, after all, that there are surely many millions more people who believe more or less the exact same things as the shooter believed but who are not shooters themselves. Rabid political liberals are one breed of animal; crazy wannabe mass murderers are another.

No, after the shock wore off, the aspect of the affair that was most striking to me was the response from the rest of the liberal establishment, which ranged from victim-blaming to lying to rank hypocrisy. All of this is part-and-parcel of the liberal treatment of guns: there is perhaps no issue, aside from abortion, that the Left so regularly, so completely and so aggressively gets wrong. It’s just pandemic.

Take, for instance, David Frum, who in the midst of the chaotic news reports about the shooting tweeted out this insta-viral hit:

Frum’s first assertion is so flatly untrue that it is almost literally unbelievable that he tweeted it: I mean that in reading it you should ask yourself, “Am I dreaming? Am I hallucinating?” There are, indeed, background checks in Virginia; federal law stipulates it. Frum eventually issued a correction, which was retweeted a grand total of 241 times. That’s right: Frum’s stupid anti-factual hysteria tweet was a global sensation, while his mea culpa setting the record straight got nine-tenths of one percent of the coverage. This is how fake news works. People like David Frum understand it, and act accordingly.

The last two items on the rundown are silly enough to be almost comical. Who on earth would want to conceal a long gun? How would that even work? And what does open carry have to do with a crazy man shooting up a baseball field? None of it makes any sense. And as for Virginia’s scandalous habit of “no licensing” and “no registration:” what, exactly, does Frum think would happen in the event of such laws? Are we supposed to believe that registering a gun somehow makes it unavailable for use in a crime? That firearm licensing has some ameliorative effect on the psyches of madmen? There must be some logic here, some reason we’re supposed to be shocked that gun laws in Virginia are so lax. But why?

This is the standard response to any gun incident of this magnitude: pretend as if a bunch of disparate and immaterial facts somehow apply to the situation in exactly the right way. I think the takeaway is supposed to be: if only Virginia had all of these laws in place, these shootings would not happen. But that is a highly doubtful proposition at best. What seems more likely in these cases is this: a lot of people—people like David Frum—honestly just do not like guns and will use every opportunity, no matter how tenuous, to rail against them. It’s a profoundly dishonest and subversive exercise, but it’s also one that will get you over 27,000 retweets. So there’s that.


  1. The Rev. J. Rinas

    Frum must be a darling of The Left, since up here in Canada the CBC has had him on their broadcasts as a repeated special guest.
    I have one word–has it been coined yet? Rifleophobia! The same people that are “afraid” of guns are the same people that accuse the other side of “Islamophobia.”

  2. Adriana Mandon

    People don’t think by themselves anymore, they just follow because it’s easier go with the flow, integrity is something of the past.
    I have to accept this idea after so much thought in what is going on in the aftermath of the election. When Obama won I just accepted that it was what the most of the people want, so I waited, I gave the benefit of the doubt though I don’t believe that his ideology works in practical terms, but still waited and prayed because it’s the decent thing to do.
    What’s going on now in America is something else, it’s a novelty in so many senses and I think that this will get worse, there’s not hiding anymore, it’s another kind of dictatorship.
    And I’m very sorry because I love this country but sorry that it’s becoming less of America and the values that America became America in the first place and it’s becoming more a banana republic, as the store.
    The shameless corruption and the lack of justice where the only important thing is who are your friends and if they are powerful you get out of any doubtful situation, examples of this come up everyday, it’s not a brainer.
    I m only hope that President Trump lives up to the circumstances because if not, next election will belong to a very strengthen left that will rule forever because the Republican party has lost his way.
    I’m so sorry too that Randy Paul instead to be a candidate for the Libertarian party chose to be one for the Republican because the Libertarians had an unique opportunity this election, people was looking for a third option, and Bernie took it. The candidates of the Libertarian party were a joke. The political parties parties don’t understand that America has evolved, you cannot try to convince people with old strategies, about the looks or a haircut, or stats about ethnic groups, first because ethnic groups are not a whole, you cannot herd them and make them to vote , even those strategies may work in some places, the ones who are in the big cities, the ones who have money, the educated ones want better than the old fashion way of to do politics. Libertarians lost the opportunity to capitalize them, maybe for arrogance, it looked that they didn’t take them very seriously, and Randy didn’t has a big shot to become president considering the others candidates, he should stick to his principles and he would be the only one that could fix this division that we are now.

    • David

      Adriana, most people never really thought for themselves at any time in history & even though the internet gives us access to so many different sources of information, most people choose sources that just tell them what they want to hear so that they can maintain themselves in a narcissistic bubble. We could have a lengthy discussion of the reasons for this but my guess it has a lot to do with the busy lives we lead & how much energy people are willing to devote to a political system that mostly doesn’t seem to value our individual opinions.

      The political party’s have exacerbated this tendency by focusing on the relatively small # of differences we possess (I’ve heard the anecdote that 90% of us agree on 90% of the issues) & doing everything possible to make people angry over that 10%. Our current process for selecting our representative government exacerbates the problem by favoring the selection of the party activists (a.k.a. the extremists in each party) rather than the candidate who is most truly representative of their district or state.

      The media also exacerbates these tendencies by similarly pointing out the more extreme examples of the behavior of those who apparently believe differently than their target audiences & then holding up those extremes as representative of “the opposition.” Kudos to you Daniel for pointing out that this shooter is not representative of all liberals but is just another example of an unstable individual who was unable to deal with his psychological tensions & as a result attempted to murder people he saw as responsible for his angst. It is always easier to blame someone else for our perceived problems than it is to take personal responsibility for our individual conditions.

      I won’t get too involved here with a discussion of the merits or lack thereof of the Libertarian position. Daniel’s posts that I’ve read over the past few months seem to suggest economic libertarian & social conservative, whereas my tendency is social libertarian & economic moderate. While I did vote for Ed Clark for president back in 1980 I have since come to the conclusion that our society is not sufficiently developed for economic libertarianism. In order for it to become so, there would need to be more balance between those whose priorities are making profits & those who are in a position to provide temperance of the desire to exploit people & nature. More importantly, we would need a judiciary that is above reproach in balancing these competing interests & I question if such judges could even exist in sufficient #’s to make a totally libertarian system workable. That being said, most people like a moderate level of socialism in the form of something like Social Security & Medicare (even many Republicans who it seems have exchanged the bogeyman of Communism with the bogeyman of Socialism, want to keep Medicare & Social Security) and they also like the idea of a government that can prevent the excesses of corporate greed (however we each individually define that). I’m fairly confident that Rand Paul could never get more than a 3rd of the vote unless the opposing candidate(s) were more thoroughly flawed than even Hillary & Trump. If he had run on the Libertarian ticket we would probably just be complaining about the Hillary administration instead of Trump.

  3. David

    As someone who has fired a gun (at a target in summer camp) but would never be inclined to own one, America’s love affair with guns is only comparable to our love affair with cars. The types of sentiments voiced by Frum are representative of an idealistic crowd that is more focused on dreams than reality. Americans will never give up their guns nor should they need to. The vast majority of gun owners are at least as responsible as the average citizen & the 2nd Amendment is enshrined in the US Constitution.

    I’d like to think that some reasonable compromises might be found in regards to gun regulation (just as we regulate cars), things s.a. background checks & perhaps magazine size limits and/or registration of assault weapons. Realistically though, such regulations would probably only ease the process of prosecution & not greatly reduce the ability of a determined individual to obtain military grade weapons. It may deter the less determined & prevent some violent events (which might be sufficient justification for such regulations) but the fact is that Americans love our violence & we love vigilante justice (so long as it’s our idea of justice in the particular situation). That’s not likely to change in our lifetimes.