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:
No background checks
No permit req’d for concealed carry of long guns
Open carry long guns & handguns
— David Frum (@davidfrum) June 14, 2017
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.