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Military Recruiting Shootings

One soldier was killed and another seriously injured in a shooting at an Army-Navy Recruiting Center in west Little Rock, Arkansas.  Thankfully, the second’s injuries are not considered life-threatening.  Contrary to earlier reports, both victims were “just out of basic training,” participating in the “Hometown Recruiting Assistance” program, and not Army Recruiters.  An arrest has been made but no names are released.  An “assault rifle” of some sort was reportedly used in the shootings.

Thus far, blogospheric commentary seems to be relegated to the right.  Not surprisingly, comparisons are being drawn to the murder of abortionist George Tiller despite the fact that “Police are trying to determine a motive” and the police spokesman “did not know whether the recruiting office was specifically targeted or was randomly chosen.”

Michelle Malkin ruefully quips, “I wonder if the Justice Department will send marshals to beef up protection at recruiting centers — especially given the past targeting of military centers on campuses and elsewhere across the country.”  She rounds up some of her own reports from over the years to demonstrate that violence aimed at military recruiters happens with some frequency, even if it gets less attention than abortion clinic violence.

Charles Johnson wisely refrains from speculation, merely passing on a noteworthy story.  Similarly, Ed Morrissey cautions, “This could have any of several different motives: political, personal, insanity.  I’d caution against reading too much into it until we hear more from the police.  We’ll be keeping an eye on it.”

AJ Strata wonders, “Is this country ready to finally deal with the fringe nut cases in the fevered swamps on the left and right?”

Rob Port observes,

Now, not to use this tragedy for politics or anything, but we could jump to the conclusion that this man was motivated by a hatred for the military (or something along those lines) and then blame groups like Code Pink and Media Matters and MoveOn.org for fanning anti-military, anti-Iraq war passions for years.  We could, much as the left has with people like Bill O’Reilly in the George Tiller murder claim that those groups have blood on their hands.

But we won’t.  Because that’s stupid.  This murder, whatever the motivation (it’s not clear at this point), was committed by a murderous thug who acted of his own volition.  Not because he was compelled to by liberal dissent.

Until we know whether the shooter was some yahoo with a beef against military recruiters, a garden variety lunatic, or part of some organized conspiracy, it’s not much worth speculating on the politics.  But Strata and Port are right:  There are fringe elements out there on various points of the political spectrum and some handful of them are willing to kill.

Most murders, though, are apolitical. They’re human tragedies with horrific consequences for friends and loved ones with little public policy meaning.  Sadly, that doesn’t stop people from trying to make political hay out of them.

I fully expect, by the way, some commenters on the left to start exploiting this case to argue for a strengthened assault rifle ban in 5, 4, 3 . . .

Photo:  KATV7

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    fanning anti-military, anti-Iraq war passions for years

    We keep hearing nonsense like this. 90% of the people I know are opposed to the Iraq war. I can only think of one or two that I would consider “anti-military”.

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  2. Steve Plunk says:

    I understand there are people on the fringes but exactly how does Strata propose the government “deal with them”? Until a crime is committed nothing can be done.

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  3. just me says:

    We keep hearing nonsense like this. 90% of the people I know are opposed to the Iraq war. I can only think of one or two that I would consider “anti-military”.

    And of all the pro life people I have known over the years, I can’t think of any personally that think killing or bombing abortion clinics are acceptable, but Christians and pro lifers and various conservative talk show hosts are being blamed for Tiller’s murder.

    The reality is that Port is right-even where politics motivate, in the end it is a stupid act by a stupid person that results in the tragic loss of life.

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  4. Matt says:

    Actually, at least one local media outlet is reporting that the suspect is a Muslim convert (Abulhakin Muhammad, also known as Carlos Bledsoe) who specifically targeted military personnel. Having followed the story most of the day, I didn’t see a anyone throwing out some of the outrageous comparisons we saw yesterday.

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  5. Dodd says:
  6. John in VA says:

    I still wonder if this guy just had it in for the Army or was he suddenly overcome by the need to go on jihad. If the latter is true then the next question to ask is, is this guy an ex-con and if so did he convert while in prison.

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  7. sam says:

    At the end of the day, I think the truth is that none of us have any defense against a single deranged person who decides to kill. People like this and the man who killed that doctor are so far under anyone’s radar that their acts are more akin to lightening strikes. One can try to make political hay left and right, but these acts are beyond politics.

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  8. Bithead says:

    it will continue to be instructive how each of these are treated, both by the governmet and by the left-o-sphere, as I suggested in the other thread.

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  9. anjin-san says:

    it will continue to be instructive how each of these are treated

    It is instructive. For example, you are exploiting the tragic death of a soldier for political gain, which tells us something about you.

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  10. John Cole says:

    Nice equivalency fail, James.

    Were these recruiters the target of a three decade smear campaign by a fanatical group that had bombed them once already, shot them in both arms, posted his personal information all over in wanted signs and even gave out the location and time of his church?

    It’s a real mystery why people knew immediately that anti-abortion nuts killed Tiller.

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  11. Derrick says:

    Now, not to use this tragedy for politics or anything, but we could jump to the conclusion that this man was motivated by a hatred for the military (or something along those lines) and then blame groups like Code Pink and Media Matters and MoveOn.org for fanning anti-military, anti-Iraq war passions for years.

    James,

    When you find Code Pink and Media Matters harrassing military veterans, maybe you could equate the two but that’s not the case. If you want to go for equivalents, look at the way people have treated Rumsfeld. They call him a murderer, just as the Right does to doctors walking to their jobs.

    This implied charge that the “left” has been hounding military is completely without merit, and I dare someone to find any coordinated instances by anyone except the extreme .002% of Democrats. Face it, ordinary Republicans have joined in calling and harassing doctors as murderers, hounding 19 year old girls who just want to walk from their car to a clinic, and carrying pictures of fetuses to frighten people. The vitrol that the right holds for those who differ on abortion is equitable with the left’s position in only rightwing fantasies.

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  12. Tlaloc says:

    the shooter apparently drove a black SUV and used an assault rifle. That doesn’t exactly sound like an anti-war type.

    I fully expect, by the way, some commenters on the left to start exploiting this case to argue for a strengthened assault rifle ban in 5, 4, 3 . . .

    I should hope so, and the next time, and every time that high powered high ammo capacity weapons are used to murder or attempt murder on groups of people.

    That should be common sense.

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  13. James Joyner says:

    I should hope so, and the next time, and every time that high powered high ammo capacity weapons are used to murder or attempt murder on groups of people.

    So, you’d prefer people get shot with, say, a .44 caliber handgun than a 5.56 semi-automatic rifle with a bayonet mount? Personally, I fail to see the distinction.

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  14. John Burgess says:

    The only distinction is that a .44 has better PR and lacks a bunch of congressional geese dissing it.

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  15. Tlaloc says:

    So, you’d prefer people get shot with, say, a .44 caliber handgun than a 5.56 semi-automatic rifle with a bayonet mount? Personally, I fail to see the distinction.

    I’d prefer they get shot with a taser and both the handgun and the rifle not be an option when some whack job decides to hurt people.

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  16. just me says:

    When you find Code Pink and Media Matters harrassing military veterans, maybe you could equate the two but that’s not the case.

    Code Pink has a demonstration outside the recruiting offices in Berkley every Wednesday:

    We vigil and protest every Wednesday in Berkeley from 7:30a.m. 5:00p.m. in front of the M.R.S (Marine Recruiting Station), 64 Shattuck Square (on Shattuck Ave just south of University Ave, where Shattuck runs one-way north).

    http://www.bayareacodepink.org/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkeley_Marine_Corps_Recruiting_Center_controversy

    Apparently you don’t pay much attention to what the anti war groups do or engage in.

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  17. Eric Florack says:

    90% of the people I know are opposed to the Iraq war

    Heh. Much is explained. Go back to your echo chamber, Swifty.

    For example, you are exploiting the tragic death of a soldier for political gain, which tells us something about you.

    Ah.
    And on what, other than your insular experience do you base this on?

    This implied charge that the “left” has been hounding military is completely without merit

    Really?
    There’s lots more of course, as ‘just me” points up well.

    So, you’d prefer people get shot with, say, a .44 caliber handgun than a 5.56 semi-automatic rifle with a bayonet mount? Personally, I fail to see the distinction.

    The point is, so would they, James…. eventually. And so, they’d grab THOSE guns as well. The British model would seem instructive here, where the gun grabbers eventually started trying to deal with the knives in the country, lacking any better targets.

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  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    I’d prefer they get shot with a taser and both the handgun and the rifle not be an option when some whack job decides to hurt people.

    lol I could easily kill you with just about anything and you me, if you and I new what we were doing and had motivation. Some people just snap and are probably wackjobs before hand, some people train in a religion to be one because thats what that religion teaches.

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  19. anjin-san says:

    And on what, other than your insular experience do you base this on

    Your own words.

    Heh. Much is explained

    Yes, the people I hang out with were not stupid enough to fall for Bush’s BS, like you did flounder.

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  20. brainy435 says:

    This is what happens when you try and use law enforcement policies to conduct a war. I thought we’d have learned from 9/11 but I guess some poeple just don’t want to see reality.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=7730637&page=1

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  21. anjin-san says:

    Swifty

    As a kid, I enjoyed Tom Swift stories. I actually kind of like “swifty” :)

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  22. Michael says:

    I don’t know of anyone who is anti-abortion who doesn’t consider the act murder, and those who perform it murderers. I know a lot of people who are anti-war, but I’ve only ever talked to one* person who considered it murder, or soldiers who participate in it murderers.

    Thus, I have to conclude that people who are anti-war have significantly less motivation to kill someone who participates in war, than someone who is anti-abortion has to kill someone who participates in abortions.

    (*) I know there are plenty of these people around, it’s just that I’ve only personally ever met one. While this is an anecdote, I feel confident that the real percentages would be similarly one-sided.

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  23. Eric Florack says:

    Your own words.

    No, your own fantasy. The fact is, your argument is so shallow it can’t withstand the comparison. Clearly, one must be in the political favor of the left to garner their concern when they get murdered, and Pvt Long being military… and the left being anti-military and pro-abortion as a rule, Pvt Long’s murder doesn’t merit the leftist outrage that George Tiller’s murder does. The Memeorandum tracker shows us that fairly clearly, your denial not withstandng.

    I actually kind of like “swifty” :)

    Yeah, I know, since you’ve used it previously.

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  24. [...] Via James Joyner: [...]

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  25. anjin-san says:

    The fact is, your argument is so shallow it can’t withstand the comparison.

    Please show my argument and what’s wrong with it. MY argument, MY words, not something that someone I have never met said on some blog.

    My argument is that the cowardly murder of a soldier is a tragedy and I hope the DA seeks the death penalty.

    My argument is that this tragedy should not be exploited for political gain.

    You are doing a disservice to the man’s service and his memory by trying to make hay off of his murder.

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  26. Eric Florack says:

    ….but the Tiller death being exploited by the left is OK by you. Right, got it.

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  27. anjin-san says:

    Bit.. Show where I have tried to exploit tillers death or shut your pie hole. Once again you are trying to put words in my mouth. Its cool. You have nothing, so you make crap up. We expect very little from you and you always meet expectations…

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  28. anjin-san says:

    You moral equivalance defense of you posts is noted bit
    . You feel the left is exploiting tillers murder, so you are justified in exploiting the murder of a soldier.

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  29. Eric Florack says:

    I made nothing up, nor am I putting words in your mouth. It is however, very instructve, indeed, what you react to and what you do not.

    How loudly leftists scream about an issue, particularly in comparison to other issues reveals rather more than they’re comfortable with. You continue to provide proof to that statement.

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  30. An Interested Party says:

    How loudly leftists scream about an issue, particularly in comparison to other issues reveals rather more than they’re comfortable with.

    The same could be said of those on the right, sweetie…

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  31. anjin-san says:

    Well bit what fascists scream about is instructive too. Obviously you intend to continue to pimp the military. Luckily, no real Americans will take you seriously.

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  32. Tlaloc says:

    lol I could easily kill you with just about anything and you me,

    Very true GA. But here’s the real question- could you use just anything to kill (or critically wound) two healthy combat trained males quickly from the convenience of your car before making a quick get away?

    Less likely. Yes you can kill a person with a paperclip if you really want to, but it’ll be hard and messy and you aren’t going to kill 10 or 50 the way you can with some guns.

    That’s the difference. Guns don;t make people kill each other, and the lack of guns won;t make them stop. What it will do is make it a fair amount harder, and cut way down on the multiple homicides you see now.

    How many kids would have died at columbine if the attackers only had knives? Less.

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  33. anjin-san says:

    Hmmm. No word back from the intrepid commentator bisty. Well I am about done with this thread anyway.

    As you can all see from my last post, I tried to take things down to a level of stupidity where bit and I might be able to have real discourse. I think I failed though. Try as I might, when it comes to stupidity, I just cant limbo the way ‘ol bitsy does.

    I do want to thank you though bit, reading your words today made me think of a very fine song…

    Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth, Blowing down the back roads headin south.
    Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth, You’re an idiot, babe. Its a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

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  34. Eric Florack says:

    Well bit what fascists scream about is instructive too. Obviously you intend to continue to pimp the military

    In twenty years of writing online commentary, I’ve seen an awful lot of people in the wrong. I’ve never seen someone as proud about being dead wrong, as you are.

    I tried to take things down to a level of stupidity

    Trust me, Swifty… you don’t need to try.

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  35. anjin-san says:

    I’ve never seen someone as proud about being dead wrong, as you are.

    Ah, no mirrors in your house? Understandable after seeing your photo.

    I don’t see what you are whining about. You call everyone who disagrees with you a “leftist”. Its moronic and infantile, but you keep at it. So there, I called you a name too. This is the level of discourse you bring to the table.

    Interesting that you remember me being censored by “captain” ed years ago, and even have a link. Obsess much?

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  36. anjin-san says:

    Damn, I hear that wind blowing through the internets again. Flounder must be typing…

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  37. anjin-san says:

    In twenty years of writing online commentary, I’ve seen an awful lot of people in the wrong

    Don’t know if you caught it, but the other day I posted something about most of today’s “conservatives” being pompous assholes. Thanks for providing proof of concept.

    Geeze, 20 years of your drivel. Online commentary or a hell before death? You be the judge…

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  38. Eric Florack says:

    You call everyone who disagrees with you a “leftist”. Its moronic and infantile, but you keep at it

    Demonstrably untrue. James an I ahve had several differences other the years. I don’t recall ever having called him a leftist. You’re welcome to locate something to prove me wrong.

    Interesting that you remember me being censored by “captain” ed years ago, and even have a link. Obsess much?

    You’d be amazed how quickly Google works on such matters.

    Don’t know if you caught it, but the other day I posted something about most of today’s “conservatives” being pompous assholes.

    Now, who’s being “moronic and infantile” again?

    Quick, someone get the shovel. Anjin’s buried himself again. (Chuckle)

    You’d best quit while you’re behind, son.

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  39. anjin-san says:

    You’d best quit while you’re behind

    Chuckels has declared himself the winner… wow, thats rare. Like I said, thanks for the proof of concept :)

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