We now know what happened in Parkland, Fla.: the failure of law enforcement on every level. The FBI received two specific, credible warnings about the Parkland shooter. It did nothing. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office received dozens of warnings — including one from the shooter himself. It did nothing to stop him from obtaining weapons. At least one and perhaps as many as four deputies were armed and present during the shooting. No deputy entered the school to confront the gunman.
Yet ardent gun-control advocates continue to claim that the National Rifle Association and law-abiding gun owners across the country are to blame.
On Sunday, Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg appeared with Brian Stelter on Reliable Sources. There, he tore into NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch for her supposed evil: “She’s a national propagandist for the NRA. . . . She wants them to think they’re on their side, she’s not. She’s actually working for the gun manufacturers. . . . She wants her base to continue attacking [police] so she can sell more guns.” With little pushback from Stelter, Hogg proceeded to defend Sheriff Scott Israel: “I don’t want to say anything until after the investigation is done, because I don’t know what happened.” He then accused Loesch of lack of support for law enforcement, calling her “hypocritical and disgusting,” and adding, “She owns these congressmen. She can get them to do things. It’s just she doesn’t care about these children’s lives.”
One need not lack sympathy for Hogg to point out that these statements are both idiotic and immoral. They are. Surviving such a tragedy does not grant a victim absolute wisdom or moral authority.
First, the idiotic. The vast majority of the NRA’s revenue comes not from gun manufacturers, but from members. And the vast majority of NRA members are members specifically because they support the Second Amendment rights the NRA seeks to protect. Hogg’s accusation that Loesch wants to “sell guns” is patently ridiculous — she’s not a firearms dealer.
Even more idiotic is Hogg’s defense of Israel. Israel went on national television and stated that Loesch had failed the children of Parkland — even though he now admits he knew beforehand about his own department’s failures. His posturing served to misdirect from his own inaction to Loesch and the NRA, parties who were not remotely responsible for what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But Hogg and gun-control advocates are ignoring the blood on the sheriff’s department’s hands to defend Israel, simply because he agrees with them politically.
If your political agenda requires you to overlook the actual evil of a mass shooter and the actual misconduct of public-safety officials in order to disparage the moral standing of those with different viewpoints, you’re degrading the debate.
Then there’s the immoral. Some of the students who lived through the shooting have been spewing pure hatred toward those who refuse to share their enthusiasm for gun control. In CNN’s modernization of Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate, student after student tore into Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), to the screaming approval of a pro-gun-control Broward County audience. Cameron Kasky told Rubio, “It’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrel of an AR-15 and not look at [the shooter].” That statement went utterly unchallenged by moderator Jake Tapper, and was applauded by the crowd. Emma Gonzalez told Loesch, a mother of two, “I want you to know that we will support your two children in the way that you will not.” Again, the crowd cheered its approval.
These statements are utterly unmoored from decency. Rubio hasn’t shot anyone. Loesch hasn’t either. Both of them want to defend children. They’re in the limelight, at least in part, to do just that. But because these students have rightly been granted the full measure of sympathy, they’ve been wrongly granted a pass on disgusting behavior by the media.
Unfortunately, such behavior tends to lead to counteraccusations of a similar sort. Loesch said at CPAC that those in the media “love mass shootings.” This quite properly drew the ire of CNN’s Alyson Camerota, who said that Loesch was “wrong on every single level.” But Camerota’s indignation was strangely absent when, days earlier, Gonzalez told her directly, “If [politicians like Rubio] accept this blood money, they are against the children. They are against the people who are dying,” and Hogg added, “If you can’t get elected without taking money from child murderers, why are you running?”
If your political agenda requires you to overlook the actual evil of a mass shooter and the actual misconduct of public-safety officials in order to disparage the moral standing of those with different viewpoints, you’re degrading the debate — and making it much less likely that we will ever come together to discuss real solutions.