BradyWatch: factual inaccuracy and childlike naiveté

Poor Paul Helmke, he’s a man confused. His latest Brady Campaign blog post is a little of the same, but also something new.

First he points to “AK-47 style semiautomatic assault weapon and two handguns” that some killer used, and predictably goes on to plug the assault weapons ban, claiming that it stopped the sale of guns like those. But the poor bum can’t even get his own law straight, because the AWB did not in fact ban handguns like the ones used in the murders. As for the AK, let’s imagine that the killers hadn’t used this weapon:

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…but that they had instead used this one, which was not banned by the AWB:

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…would anything have turned out differently? Would there be fewer deaths, or fewer injuries, or less pain and suffering? No, of course not, because both of these rifles are tools of destruction that can cause terrible damage in the wrong hands.

Poor Paul even correctly identifies this:

I’ve heard about so many pointless killings over the years – disputes over basketball sneakers, boyfriends and girlfriends, perceived “disrespect,” and “cheap” jewelry. A good friend, Chief Richard Pennington – who until recently served as Chief of Police in Atlanta, Georgia – has told me he’s forever puzzled by homicides driven by these “trivial matters.” From an investigative perspective, these cases are not hard to solve – sometimes the shooter is identified in 15 minutes, he’s told me. But Chief Pennington laments how pointless the crimes are, and we all agree. As Washington Post editors wrote, “no amount of investigation will ever be able to explain how a disagreement over a lost bracelet could end up costing four people their lives. It is unfathomable.”

…And then he goes on to bash guns and talk about how it’s too easy for dangerous people like this to acquire them and one can’t help but feel moved, because the emotion in his writing is palpable. But he misses the point: In a world that had somehow been purged completely of firearms, people who respond with violence to insults and perceived slights are no less dangerous to society at large. Without guns, these people will continue to deal death with knives, pipes, cars, homemade bombs — you name it. The problem is not the presence of weapons, it is the presence of those who misuse them.

Paul ends on a decidedly ironic tone, quoting from Fargo (my favorite movie), and implicitly identifying with one of the main characters whose key personality trait is her naiveté in the face of the ugliness of the world:

“And for what,” she asks him. “For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know.

“Don’t you know that?

“And here you are. And it’s a beautiful day.

“Well, I just don’t understand it.”

…But immediately prior to the scene that Paul quotes from, Margie uses a gun to neutralize an example of that ugliness: a man feeding his former partner-in-crime into a wood chipper! And yet only sentences earlier, Paul says, “Some say we need more people with more guns in more places to make us all safer. […] The logic is insulting – in order to put out the fire, they say, pour more gasoline on it.”

it sure worked for Margie! What would have been her fate had she been an unarmed private citizen, as Paul Helmke tries to impose by law on all of us?

P.S. Personally, if we’re going to talk about female movie heroes, I’ll go with Sarah Connor any day of the week:

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