Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Massacre and Gun Control

The NRO publishes an excellent article on writing about gun control for (left wing) reporters. It lists things such as:
  1. Before offering gun-control as an "easy answer" try to think of a real gun-control law that might've made a difference (in this case? Maybe extended magazine laws--but maybe not, either).
  2. Make sure your framing matches the information in the article (he lists a case where the headline and the article basically say two different things).
  3. Verify facts before reporting them. If you think the utterly false Tea Party "connection to the shooting" report was disgraceful is a right wing view, consider that if you hate the Tea Party you ought to find it even more disgraceful.
  4. Don't forget that gun bans won't stop a pre-planned massacre. India has fairly strict gun control laws and they certainly did nothing to stop the Mumbai massacre.
  5. If you cite a gun-control law, make sure you get it right. People on the terrorist watch list are allowed to buy guns because the threshold for being on the watch list is bloody low.
These are excellent points and I think that left wing or right wing there's no excuse for lazy or sloppy reporting--especially in the aftermath of a tragedy when the facts are usually in short supply and all to easy to get wrong. 

That's one thing I think.

Here's the other ...

A Template For Successful Terror
The armed assailant methodology has proven successful and scary. Norway's shooter and Aurora's used a very similar methodology (explosive rigged to, theoretically, draw or kill police, body armor, selection of helpless victims, high powered weapons, etc.). This echoes the Mumbai massacre I referenced above. Bombing--even suicide bombing--has an appeal to would-be terrorists as it either leaves you a chance to get away or ends your personal narrative right there (the suicide option).

Shootings end with either a bullet to the head (probably emotionally harder than a suicide vest trigger) or being captured (unthinkable for many). However, the model has appeal even there if you want a soapbox to expound on your views: in an American trial? You'll get it.

The problem that I see, however is this: bombings are comparatively hard. They are hard to make--they require specialized skills and materials. Trying to get that skill or material sets off intelligence trip-wires. They are not "flexible." A bomb once set cannot trigger itself. Bombers cannot react to new information easily. Bombs have chemical signatures and can be found by dogs. Large bombs--more effective ones--require more than a vest to hide. They require cars which, in turn, require outdoor venues. 

Most importantly, bombs fail. Yes: they often work--but just as often they fail and when they do, we go about our day, pretending we are safe. We're not--we're just lucky.

There are bad people out there who want to hurt us--this is a template for doing so. It is scary. It is effective. It is comparatively invisible and light-weight. We have seen it work very effectively as an instrument of international terror once and now that, again, we have seen it work on American soil our enemies have to be thinking the same thing I am: If that guy can do it ...

That's what scares me about this whole thing. I'm not worried about copy cats. I'm worried about students.

1 comment:

  1. The template is describing very clearly about successful terror and Gun control.