It never ceases to amaze me the confusion that is perpetuated by folks in my business.
In a national story Thursday about the hearing for Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man accused of the Fort Hood massacre, great lengths are taken to describe the guns, their capabilities, the number of bullets Hasan was carrying, the time he took to learn to shoot accurately and more descriptions that come off as subtle indictments of guns, gun rights and gun laws.
Conversely, very little is written about Hasan’s alleged lone-gunman attack in the name of Allah. That the massacre could have been a terrorist onslaught is never mentioned.
In fact, the only phrase that even comes close to making the connection is when it’s said that the attacker “shouted ‘Allahu Akbar!’ — ‘God is great!’ in Arabic.” No mention of any possible link to terrorism is made. The word doesn’t appear in the story.
But references to guns proliferate the article. Out of 17 paragraphs, 11 are spent describing the handgun, the laser sight, how advanced it was, how much ammunition Hasan had, how many clips he had, how much time he spent target practicing and the types of targets he shot at.
The underlying tone reeks of the same old argument the anti-gun crowd always makes: If he just hadn’t been able to buy a gun ... or if he hadn’t been able to buy so many bullets ... or if he hadn’t had access to such a “high-tech” weapon.
Now maybe these writers were just reporting what they heard in court and an inordinate amount of time was spent on guns Thursday. Maybe no agenda exists. But when you put all these gun facts together in the story without spending an equal amount of time on Hasan’s reported mental problems and fixations on terrorism, it gives the anti-gun people inspiration to follow the same old path, to put the gun on trial, not the person wielding it.
Do you know what I see when I read of all this alleged effort on Hasan’s part? A reason to try Hasan.
I see determination. I see obsession. When someone spends that much time planning this sort of violence, they are going to carry it out, no matter what obstacles you put in their way. The guy was a soldier on an Army base for Pete’s sake. How hard would it be for him to get a gun, and one with a lot more firepower than a handgun?
That Hasan reportedly went to great lengths to plan the attack should surprise no one. That Hasan allegedly shouted the same Arabic phrase that suicide bombers shout before blowing themselves and their victims to smithereens seems a much more pertinent fact. That a U.S. soldier allegedly carried out an attack on fellow soldiers in the name of foreign enemies seems of paramount importance. In addition to murder and attempted murder, shouldn’t we also be considering charges of treason?
Shouldn’t we be focusing on the attacker, not his tool of choice?
E-mail Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays.