Calls for more gun con­trol

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

Shoot­ing be­comes quickly politi­cized.

Wall-to-wall news cov­er­age quickly fol­lowed a shoot­ing at­tack Wed­nes­day on Repub­li­can law­mak­ers at a con­gres­sional base­ball prac­tice in Alexandria, Vir­ginia.

Early re­ports were frag­mented, eye­wit­ness ac­counts at a pre­mium. Cov­er­age ex­panded to high­light the hu­man in­ter­est an­gle, which in­cluded praise for the U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice and first re­spon­ders on duty that morn­ing, pub­lic prayers and no­ble calls for unity on Capi­tol Hill.

The in­ci­dent was also quickly politi­cized, how­ever.

“The bat­tle over gun con­trol will likely be­come en­er­gized af­ter to­day’s shoot­ing, the specifics no doubt tai­lored to the in­ci­dent it­self. Did the gun­man pro­cure his weapon or weapons legally? If not, how did he get them? Was he men­tally ill? Should he have been el­i­gi­ble for a per­mit? There’s a usual list of ques­tions that arise in such shoot­ings. That we have such a fa­mil­iar de facto sys­tem for pro­cess­ing such vi­o­lence should be a ring­ing sig­nal that we have, as a na­tion, tol­er­ated rou­tine gun vi­o­lence for far too long,” said a Los An­ge­les Times ed­i­to­rial that ap­peared just a few hours af­ter the shoot­ing.

“We hope, of course, that the vic­tims of to­day’s shoot­ing re­cover fully. But we also hope that the next time the NRA lob­by­ists visit con­gres­sional of­fices with their guns-for-ev­ery­one agenda, they are greeted by mem­bers of Con­gress who are far more skep­ti­cal and prob­ing than they have been in the past,” The Times said.

Twit­ter soon erupted. “Steve Scalise, shot at a con­gres­sional base­ball game in Alexandria, was an early en­dorser of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump,” tweeted Newsweek.

Daily Kos blog­ger Markos Moulit­sas ob­served, “Repub­li­cans are get­ting what they want.”

Broad­cast­ers also joined in with judg­ment calls.

“Min­utes af­ter Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Scalise and sev­eral con­gres­sional aides on Wed­nes­day were shot while prac­tic­ing for a base­ball game, jour­nal­ists on MSNBC and Twit­ter im­me­di­ately politi­cized the at­tempted mas­sacre, of­fer­ing calls for gun con­trol,” said Scott Whit­lock, as­so­ciate editor for the Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter’s NewsBusters. org site, a con­ser­va­tive press watch­dog.

He deemed the prac­tice “shame­ful” and went on to cite the specifics.

“Although MSNBC an­chor Stephanie Ruhle ad­mit­ted ‘we don’t know what type of gun’ was used, she spec­u­lated, ‘How dif­fi­cult is it to get a weapon like this?’ MSNBC se­cu­rity ex­pert Clint Watts replied, ‘It’s not dif­fi­cult at all — we have very loose gun laws around ri­fles, semi­au­to­matic ri­fles, what­ever it might be,’” Mr. Whit­lock said.

Madeleine Post, a NewsBusters.org an­a­lyst, also cited celebri­ties who quickly took to Twit­ter to have their say.

“Too many guns, too easy to get, too easy to kill,” tweeted ac­tress Mia Far­row.

“Please Con­gress, what will it take for you to act?” wrote ac­tress Julianne Moore, re­fer­ring her Twit­ter fol­low­ers to Every­town for Gun Safety and Moms De­mand Ac­tion, both in­ter­est groups that “ad­dress our na­tion’s cul­ture of gun vi­o­lence.”

One me­dia an­a­lyst ap­peared up­set that the press had set style in place for cov­er­ing shoot­ings such as the one that tran­spired in Alexandria, now sim­ply known as #Alexandria on Twit­ter.

“If the stun­ning event was only the lat­est tale of too many guns and too much vi­o­lence in Amer­i­can life, it was par­en­thet­i­cally a win­dow onto the me­dia’s de­press­ing fa­cil­ity in cov­er­ing such hap­pen­ings,” said James War­ren, chief me­dia writer for the Poyn­ter In­sti­tute, a Florid­abased think tank that ex­plores press is­sues.

“For sure, the prox­im­ity to Wash­ing­ton and its ar­mies of me­dia made it a story in­stantly dealt with. But, re­gard­less, the now re­flex­ive ques­tions and mode of cov­er­age kicked in. What ac­tu­ally hap­pened? How many gun­shots? What were the law en­force­ment im­per­a­tives? What were the med­i­cal haz­ards fac­ing the con­gress­man who was shot? And, of course, it’s im­pos­si­ble to not give in to what was spec­u­la­tion about mo­tives and the pol­i­tics of the tragedy,” Mr. War­ren noted.

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