It’s our lax gun laws that left two cops dead, not the ‘tone’ of protestors


The Rush Limbaugh of The Republic, Doug MacEachern, in his latest right-wing rant takes two diametrically opposed positions to blame the “tone” of protestors for the death of two New York police officers. NYPD murders a failure of leadership:

Leaders are supposed to be the antithesis of opportunistic moral poseurs. They do not assign group responsibility for tragedies to one side of a dispute, or the other. They don’t point fingers. They don’t insist the problem is with the behavior of that other group of citizens.

Wait for it . . .

JonStewartAll of the presumed leaders who have seized on the bare outlines of entirely separate police-related shootings in recent months bear some responsibility for the tragic — and increasingly destructive —direction of these events.

No, not the destruction itself. But of society’s tone. Of the movement of things.

They have bought into the framing of these incidents, collectively, as evidence of a single trend: police violence directed, more or less intentionally, toward Black males. Leaders don’t do that.

* * *

[I]t has led to the shooting deaths of two New York City officers.

Shorter MacEachern: “It’s wrong for political leaders to play the blame game and to point fingers, but for an unaccountable right-wing pundit like me, it’s perfectly fine” — I’m going to play the blame game: “From the mayor of New York City to self-appointed race-activists to the media, we have drawn a stick-figure picture of a complex series of unrelated events. And, now, two cops in New York lie dead as a result.”

It takes a comedian like Jon Stewart of The Daily Show to explain the complexity (above) that I am sure never even entered the fevered mind of Doug MacEachern, who resorts to over-simplification by blaming anyone who acknowledges that race plays a factor in policing.

MacEachern will never acknowledge that minority communities of color — African-American, Latino, and Asian — are subject to different policing tactics and practices than is white America, regardless of whether they have committed a crime or not.

It is a safe bet that an old white man like MacEachern has never been treated as a “suspect” or someone to be watched closely while shopping or while in a “white” neighborhood, simply because of his skin color. He has no concept of how it feels to be singled out this way on a daily basis. Nor does he care.

For white privilege pundits, any discussion of race in policing is simply playing the “racial grievance card.” For them, these guys were “thugs” and “criminals,” they had it coming. The cops were just doing their job. End of story.

But there is even a more basic issue that MacEachern will also never acknowledge: How Did the NYPD Killer Get His Hands on a Gun From Georgia? Because Our Laws Are Insane:

Investigators have traced the gun Ismaaiyl Brinsley used to kill two New York City police officers and wound his ex-girlfriend to a Georgia strip mall 900 miles away. The Arrowhead pawn shop, which bills itself as a “family-owned business dedicated to good prices, good customer service and good vibes,” as of 2010 was the fifth-largest source of guns used in crimes nationally and the number-one source of out-of-state guns seized by the New York Police Department.

What happened between the time the silver Taurus semiautomatic handgun was purchased in 1996 and Brinsley came across it? We don’t know. Brinsley was barred from owning a gun because he had committed multiple felonies; if he had to complete a background check, he would have failed it. But he never had to complete a background check. Police say the Asian man who bought the gun at Arrowhead later gave it to his cousin, and there have been no traceable purchases since, meaning [the gun] exchanged hands in private [sales or] illegal deals.

Weak federal laws and disparate state laws enable a black market where felons and domestic abusers can get their hands on guns. Georgia is among many southern states whose lax gun laws effectively supply firearms for criminal activity in states with stricter laws. Some 90 percent of guns traced in New York City crimes come from out-of-state sources. Compare New York’s laws to a state like Georgia, and it’s easy to see why these southern states are known as the Iron Pipeline.

New York requires all gun sales, including private ones, to pass a background check. Georgia does not. It also has no penalties for straw purchasers who buy firearms legally for someone who can’t. It also doesn’t mandate that gun owners file a police report when their gun goes missing. In 2014, Georgia’s weakened its laws even further, and now gun owners can carry firearms into bars, classrooms, government buildings, and even TSA airport checkpoints. Felons are allowed to invoke the controversial Stand Your Ground defense, meaning they don’t have the obligation to retreat if they feel their life is threatened. Georgia’s own murder rate is 27 percent above the national average, and has the 13th most permissible gun laws in the nation, according to a Daily Beast analysis.

* * *

Federal law is also to blame. Not only is there no universal background check system, but in 2003 Congress passed a law that makes it harder to shut down rogue operations that are enabling the illegal market. Thanks to the Tiahrt Amendment, data on how often gun dealers’ weapons are seized in crimes is shielded from lawsuits and public scrutiny. According to a 1995 study conducted before the amendment passed, just over 1 percent of gun dealers are responsible for nearly 60 percent of the guns seized in crimes. Without oversight, a small number of licensed dealers will continue to supply steady a stream of weaponsan untold number of which will end up in the hands of criminals, including those who kill cops.

On the most basic level, this is really a story about lax gun laws, and how illegal guns can so easily get into the hands of someone like Ismaaiyl Brinsley who had a rap sheet longer than my arm, and who suffered from mental illness, as acknowledged by his own family members. Two New York police officers are dead because of our lax gun laws and inadequate treatment of the mentally ill in this country, not because of the “tone” of protestors or politicians who want to address the legitimate concerns of minority communities about how race factors into policing.

This point has been almost entirely lacking in the media coverage of this story to date.


  1. Meanie, you’ve got it so right. They don’t have the sheer volume of deaths by gun from both accident and murder in England. Yet those who have a legitimate reason to own a gun are given permits. Note that legitimate reason is NOT “because I want one.”

    • You are incorrect about murder and homicide in England since the gun bans. Their crimes rates have gone through the roof since guns were banned, including murders. Australia has experienced similar problems since they banned guns, as well. Even within the United States we show similar trends when gun bans take effect. This attachment goes into a great bit of detail about what happens (assuming you are interested in facts):

  2. Kimberly Yonkers, MD, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine, writes at the Washington Post today, “Yes, America, the guns are to blame.”

    This obsession with mental health as the root cause of gun violence is not only silly; it’s dangerous.

    The elimination of severe psychiatric conditions would not solve our problems with gun violence. Despite the sensationalism of shootings that occur in schools or against police officers, they are infrequent events compared to the totality of gun violence.

    And while individuals with severe psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar illness are more likely to engage in violent behavior, the frequencies of cases of these disorders are small. And the vast majority of people with severe and persistent mental illness are non-violent. According to one distinguished study, we would see only a 4 percent reduction in gun violence if mental illnesses were eliminated.

    Gun violence is 20 times more prevalent in the United States than in other highly developed countries. But our mental health system is not substantially worse. Most wealthy countries spend between 6 and 8 percent of their gross domestic product on mental health care; the U.S. spends 7 percent GDP. We have 19 mental health professionals and 3.4 psychiatric beds per 10,000 people, rates that are similar to Western Europe and other high resource nations.

    * * *

    In sum, the American mental health-care system is just about on par with other high resource nations, but the United States has a dramatically higher rate of gun violence.

    • We also have a FAR greater rate of gun ownership than any other country on earth, so it only stands to reason that our rate of gun violence would be higher. However, the rate of gun violence is MUCH lower than the proportional rate of gun ownership. What is interesting is that in the United States, where gun ownership is relatively easy, gun violence is only 20 times greater than other industrialized nations, most of which virtually ban gun ownership. Besides showing that gun control doesn’t really work, it demonstrates that the huge majority of gun owners are responsible owners whose guns threaten no one.

  3. “Not because of the “tone” of protestors or politicians.”

    That is hilarious considering that you were quick to blame Palin and Kelly when the lunatic Loughner shot Giffords!

  4. When I first read your litle screed, I was going to drag out all the statistics and other evidence that demonstrates your blog is full of crap, but then I realized it would be a really pointless effort. This is not a logic driven argument to the left. It is a fear and ignorance driven subject that has actually created the situation you now curse. Of course if guns are made virtually impossible to obtain in New York City, people will go out of the City to obtain them. Unfortunately, the majority of those people will seek them for illegal purposes because, as the old saying goes, if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.

    I do aplaud the Democrat Party continuing it’s fight for increased gun control. It is a losing issue for you and will only become more of a losing issue in the future.

    • You are too fucking lazy to ever “drag out all the statistics” and provide any citations to sources for your trolling. Who the hell do you think you are kidding?

      • Well, you’re close, but quite on target. It isn’t laziness, it is ignorance on how to attachment citations and references to my responses on this blog. Since I don’t know how to do that, I am left with cutting and pasting entire articles or selective quotations, both of which would take up too much space and are suspect if not referenced with specific sources. I have asked for help on how to attach citations, etc., but no one has ever stepped forward to help.

        In any event, would it matter if I posted citations and references? I’m not sure it would. Especially on subjects like gun control which, like abortion, is driven as much by passion as by logic. But I will keep trying to figure out how to attach citations and see if I can’t do that in the future.

  5. The problem with nug nuts and right wing politicians is that there is not one iota of acknowledgment that Americans obsession with guns has anything to do with these various killings. The opposite idea is the mindless idea that more and more guns solve these problems. The old west idea that a six shooter can solve all problems. And with multiple media today blowing up every shooting into a national issue, blowhards make lots of money on tragedy and insanity. Ironic since Tombstone had a check your guns law in the 1880’s.

  6. In the latest pew poll 54% of black americans say they support gun ownership up from 24% in last pew poll. Gun control has cost the democratic party dearly and this has cost us in other areas where gun supporters agree with democrats on issues I know you wish voters as well as pollsters would agree with you on gun control but unless you live in cities in the north east they don’t. sorry.

    • This is the most literate and thoughtful I have ever read before. It is not your usual garbled rant. Very impressive.

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