Colorado Springs Shooter Is An Enigma, But The Shooting Is Being Politicized Anyway

We still don't know very much about Robert Dear, the man who shot and killed three people at the site of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, but that hasn't stopped the usual suspects from politicizing the case.

Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooting

The shooter who killed three and injured several others at the site of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs remains something of an enigma, and while both sides of the political aisle have chimed in about the shooting it isn’t clear at all that he was particularly or specifically motivated by politics to commit his crimes:

HARTSEL, Colo. — Robert L. Dear Jr. was a man who lived off the grid.

In this lonely, snow-covered patch of land in a hamlet ringed by the Rocky Mountains, his home was a white trailer, with a forest-green four-wheeler by the front door and a modest black cross painted on one end.

As police officers surrounded it on Saturday, looking for clues to what they said had sent its owner on a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood center that left three dead and nine wounded, neighbors said they barely knew him, beyond one man’s memory of his handing out anti-Obama political pamphlets.

Van Wands, 58, whose wife owns a local saloon, said there were two types of people in the area: the old-timers who put effort into getting to know their neighbors, and the newcomers who wished for solitude. Mr. Dear, he said, fell solidly into the second category.

“That’d be one that preferred to be left alone,” he said.

A day after the shooting, a portrait emerged of a man with a sporadic record of brushes with the law, neighbors and relatives. In 1997, Mr. Dear’s wife at the time reported to the police that he had locked her out of her home and pushed her out of a window when she tried to climb back in. In 2002, he was arrested after a neighbor complained that he hid in bushes and tried to peer into her house. An online personal ad believed to be posted by Mr. Dear sought partners for sadomasochistic sex.

With Colorado Springs residents telling chilling tales of hours spent hiding in stores near the shootout on Friday, the authorities shed no light publicly on whether they believed Mr. Dear, 57, had deliberately targeted Planned Parenthood. But one senior law enforcement official, who would speak only anonymously about an ongoing investigation, said that after Mr. Dear was arrested, he had said “no more baby parts” in a rambling interview with the authorities.

The official said that Mr. Dear “said a lot of things” during his interview, making it difficult for the authorities to pinpoint a specific motivation.

In Washington, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement that the shooting was “not only a crime against the Colorado Springs community, but a crime against women receiving health care services at Planned Parenthood, law enforcement seeking to protect and serve, and other innocent people. It was also an assault on the rule of law, and an attack on all Americans’ right to safety and security.”

Senior Justice Department officials were looking into whether to move forward with a federal case. Along with examining whether Mr. Dear could be charged with a hate crime, officials were exploring whether he may have violated federal laws intended to protect abortion clinics. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a crime to use physical force against patients and clinic employees.

President Obama on Saturday again called on America to tackle gun violence. “This is not normal,” he said in a statement. “We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.”

Mr. Dear, who had surrendered to the police on Friday evening, remained in custody without bond at the El Paso County criminal justice center. Law enforcement records and interviews began to paint a portrait of an itinerant loner who left behind a trail of disputes and occasionally violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.

His former wife, Pamela Ross, 54, who was with him for 16 years or so and once called the police to accuse him of domestic violence, recalled that Mr. Dear could be angry at times, sometimes with her. But he was the kind who usually followed a flash of anger with an apology, though he was not much for chitchat.

He was an independent art dealer with a degree in public administration from a Midwestern college, she said, who struck deals with artists, mostly Southern ones, who painted Charleston, S.C., street scenes, Old South plantation tableaus, magnolias and pictures of the Citadel campus. He tended to buy the rights to paintings, commission 1,000 or so prints, then market and sell the prints and keep the proceeds.

He was born in Charleston and grew up in Louisville, Ky., but he had strong ties to South Carolina. His father was a graduate of the Citadel, Charleston’s famous public military college. Robert Lewis Dear Sr., the father, died in 2004. He was a Navy veteran who served in World War II and worked 40 years for the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.

The younger Mr. Dear was raised as a Baptist, Ms. Ross said in an interview in Goose Creek, S.C., where she now lives. He was religious but not a regular churchgoer, a believer but not one to harp on religion. “He believed wholeheartedly in the Bible,” she said. “That’s what he always said; he read it cover to cover to cover.” But he was not fixated on it, she added.

(…)

He seemed to have a separate life online. An online personals ad seeking women in North Carolina interested in bondage and sadomasochistic sex showed a picture that appeared to be Mr. Dear and used an online pseudonym associated with him. The same user also appeared to have turned to online message boards to seek companions in the Asheville area with whom he could smoke marijuana.

In his new home in the Rocky Mountains, where he had been registered to vote for only a year, neighbors said they did not know Mr. Dear well. Zigmond Post, who lives about a half-mile from Mr. Dear, said that he had met him only a few times, but that his dogs had once gotten loose on Mr. Dear’s property. When he went to fetch them, Mr. Dear handed him a few pamphlets strongly critical of Mr. Obama. Mr. Post said the pamphlets were strictly political and did not have any anti-abortion messages or racist overtones.

“He gave us these pamphlets and said, ‘Hey, if you ever want to talk about this stuff, look this over,’ ” Mr. Post said in a telephone interview. “I think we threw them into the campfire that night.”

As noted, there have been reports that Deer said something to the effect of “no more baby parts” when police took him into custody on Friday evening, but this has not been confirmed by police, and even the source who is quoted as providing this information to the press has said that investigators have not really been able to pin down a specific motive for what happened, or what may have motivated Dear. Indeed, for the most part law enforcement has been relatively quiet over the weekend as they conduct their investigation at the crime scene, which has included parallel investigations at the home Deer has kept for the past several months Colorado and his small, nondescript home in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s possible, of course, that this investigation will lead to evidence that Dear was acting out of some political motivation, and the comments about “no more baby parts,” which would seem to be a reference to the controversy that erupted over the summer that Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses, which would be a violation of the law if true. Additionally, as more than a few people have suggested, the fact that Dear seems to have chosen a Planned Parenthood clinic as the sight for his attack does support the conclusion that he was targeting the organization in some way. However, there is apparently no indication that he was at all involved in the pro-life community in either Colorado or back home in North Carolina, and the portrait of him as a loner who seems to have odd obsessions of his own also suggests that he fits into the pattern of other criminals who are acting independent of any real goal other than causing havoc, or perhaps, addressing some evil perceived largely due to what may well be mental illness. At this point, and until law enforcement provides more detail, we simply don’t know what was motivating this man when he opening fire on Friday.

Despite the fact that Dear’s motivates, his mental state, and even how he obtained the weapon he used all remain unknown as of this point, that hasn’t stopped people on both sides of the political aisle from weighing to characterize Friday’s events in a manner that suits their particular narrative.

The Democratic candidates for President, for example, immediately jumped on the idea that Deer was motivated by anti Planned Parenthood rhetoric even before the leaked report noted above. Pundits, meanwhile, advanced the argument that the attack put the Republican candidates for President in a “politically uncomfortable” position due to the alleged combination of abortion and gun politics in the case. Other commentators on the left were noting, within mere hours after the attack and on a holiday weekend no less, that most of the Republican candidates for President had been largely silent on the case thus far. The fact that it was a holiday weekend and that we didn’t really have any information about what may have motivated Dear apparently didn’t occur to the people who pointed to this alleged silence. In any case, the silence from Republican candidates didn’t last long, and the comments have largely sought to condemn the shootings while seeking to distance the event from the wide pro-life movement:

Several Republican presidential candidates on Sunday condemned the attack on a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs but stopped short of agreeing with liberal critics who say that fiery antiabortion rhetoric contributed to the shooting.

“It’s obviously a tragedy. Nothing justifies this,” former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”Any protesters should always be peaceful. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter or pro-life protesters.”

Calls to defund Planned Parenthood through congressional action have escalated in recent months amid a protracted national debate about the ethics of collecting fetal tissue for research.

That dialogue was cast in a grim light after reports that the suspected Colorado gunman is said to have used the phrase “no more baby parts” while discussing his motives for the attack, as reported by The Washington Post on Saturday. Liberal critics of antiabortion activism have linked escalating rhetoric on the right with Friday’s attack, including Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

“We’ve seen an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months,” Cowart said in a statement. “That environment breeds acts of violence.”

Fiorina rejected such comments, calling them “typical left-wing tactic.”

“This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don’t agree with the message,” she said. “The vast majority of Americans agree what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong.”

 

(…)

Business mogul Donald Trump called the alleged Colorado shooter a “sick person” in an interview on Sunday with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.”

“Well, this was an extremist. And this was a man who they said prior to this was mentally disturbed,” Trump said, according to an early transcript of the interview. “So, he’s a mentally disturbed person. There’s no question about that.”

He added: “I will tell you, there is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, all of the videos that they’ve seen with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car,” he said. “I mean, there are a lot of people that are very unhappy about that.”

Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson called the shooting the work of “extremism.”

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of extremism coming from all areas. It’s one of the biggest problems that I think is threatening to tear our country apart,” Carson said on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, according to a transcript of the exchange. “We get into our separate corners and we hate each other, we want to destroy those with whom we disagree.”

Carson did not directly address antiabortion rhetoric but did warn of increasing political divisions in the country.

“If we can get rid of the rhetoric from either side and actually talk about the facts, I think that’s when we begin to make progress,” he said. “And, you know, a lot of people, when they don’t have facts, when they don’t have a good backup, that’s when the rhetoric starts. That’s when the name-calling starts.”

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee expressed similar dismay at the attack and added that the gunman’s actions in fact stood against the principles held by antiabortion activists.

“Regardless of why he did it, what he did is domestic terrorism,” Huckabee said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “What he is did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement, because there’s nothing about any of us that would condone or in any way look the other way at something like this.”

As they get back out on the campaign trail after the holiday weekend, I’m sure we’ll here much the same from the other Republican candidates, while Democrats and others will continue to make an effort to tie Dear’s actions into the wider political arguments over abortion generally and Planned Parenthood specifically. This will happen regardless of whether or not the evidence actually justifies it. As the left is trying to tie Deer to the wider political movement opposed to abortion and Planned Parenthood, many conservatives spent the hours after the attack doing whatever they could to deny that Planned Parenthood was relevant to the attack at all, and now some of them have apparently turned what appears to be a clerical error in Colorado voting records into a claim that Dear is a transgender woman, an assertion for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever. While this is is, perhaps, inevitable given the fact that we live in a country where pretty much everything becomes politicized at some point, it strikes me that it’s neither justified nor healthy. At the risk of provoking a war on an issue that I tend to avoid simply because of the vitriol that debates on the issue inevitably devolve into, it strikes me that there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the abortion issue, and on the issues revolving around whether or not Planned Parenthood should receive Federal funding or whether it was potentially violating Federal law as alleged over the summer. So far, the investigations that have been conducted since the release of those controversial videos. To date, none of the investigations that have been conducted because of those videos have found any violation of the law, but that doesn’t mean the investigations were unwarranted. In any case, trying to tie one side of a political debate to the actions of someone who may well be a deranged lunatic with no coherent agenda at all strikes me as something that ought to be avoided on both sides of the aisle.

FILED UNDER: Crime, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. M. Bouffant says:

    So, whether or not a “deranged lunatic with no coherent agenda” can get hold of weapon & shoot someplace up while killing & wounding people shouldn’t be tied to a political debate?

    Funny, but that seems awfully “political”, bogus (& entirely political) videos aside.

  2. ernieyeball says:

    …trying to tie one side of a political debate to the actions of someone who may well be a deranged lunatic with no coherent agenda at all.

    Clearly in the United States a deranged lunatic with no coherent agenda at all. is just as entitled to posses firearms as a citizen with a coherent agenda.
    See Dylan Roof.

    “I have no choice,” it reads. “I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/us/dylann-storm-roof-photos-website-charleston-church-shooting.html?_r=0

  3. Since we don’t know even know what kind of weapon(s) Deer used, or how he obtained them, having the same old gun discussion we always have after these incidents strikes as pointless until we have some context.

  4. Keith says:

    There is one data point that would suggest some sort of animosity towards Planned Parenthood–the fact that he attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic. Of all of the buildings in Colorado Springs, why that one? It would be one hell of a coincidence that he picked that building, out of every other building, at random. I’m not saying it is impossible that it is a coincidence, but I don’t think that’s the most likely answer.

  5. KM says:

    It being politicized because it contains elements of all the flash points of the latest political fights:

    – Gun control, appropriate ownership and mental illness
    – Continuing mass shootings
    – Police reactions / perceptions of whitness vs blackness on whether the police shoot your ass
    – Planned Parenthood
    – White male domestic terrorists not being called terrorists
    – Political affiliation and identity politics
    – Culpability of social/political figures and their rhetoric

    There’s more but that’s what I can pull of the top of my head. This one is a rehashing of all the pain points of what we’ve been arguing about for months so naturally the arguments keep right on going, regardless of facts. Poltics are personal, remember. It doesn’t help that that people are outright making crap up in order to deflect potential faults (ie the trans thing and the Chase bank robbery theory). The CORFing on this one is happening rather fast for not knowing all the facts……

  6. Gustopher says:

    If you shoot up or burn down a black church, I’m going to assume you’re a racist unless there’s clear evidence that comes out. I mean, it’s willfully thick-headed to pretend that race isn’t involved. That’s in the “KKK doesn’t hate black people, they just love white people” territory of stupid.

    If you shoot up or burn down a planned parenthood, it’s equally obvious that abortion has something to do with it.

    We don’t know if this guy was an organized terrorist, or just a nut job who was pointed towards Planned Parenthood by the crazed language of the antiabortion fanatics. But, it’s clearly about abortion.

    There’s suspension of judgement, and then there’s willful ignorance.

  7. Gustopher says:

    FILED UNDER: JAMES JOYNER, ABORTION, PLANNED PARENTHOOD

    Your filing system might need a bit of work. Maybe add guns, mental health, and change the author it is filed under?

    (I have German heritage, we take our filing seriously)

  8. ernieyeball says:

    We do know what kind of weapon he used.
    It was a firearm that shoots bullets.
    We know this because of the three corpses.
    I don’t think how he obtained said weapons makes much difference, especially to the citizens he killed.

  9. Pch101 says:

    Affiliation with a political organization is not a prerequisite for having a political agenda.

    The perpetrator may have acted alone, but the agenda is not unfamiliar to the more extreme believers within the pro-life movement. Let’s not pretend for a minute that there aren’t other people like this; after all, some of those who genuinely believe that fetuses are babies and abortion rights are akin to legalized murder can be expected to do more than just talk about it.

  10. Steve Hynd says:

    The only comment that springs to mind involves mention of a river in Egypt.

  11. Stan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Since we don’t know even know what kind of weapon(s) Deer used, or how he obtained them, having the same old gun discussion we always have after these incidents strikes as pointless until we have some context.”

    It’s senseless trying to argue with you. What context do you need? The guy is deranged but he got guns anyway. And people like him will continue to get them because of our sacred second amendment rights.

  12. Jeremy R says:

    The Democratic candidates for President, for example, immediately jumped on the idea that Deer was motivated by anti Planned Parenthood rhetoric even before the leaked report noted above.

    The Huffpo article you linked to simply has each Democratic candidate tweeting support for the victims, law enforcement and support for Planned Parenthood (which I’d hope is hard to criticize considering it was their clinic being terrorized). They also each carefully qualified their longer statements by mentioning the fact that information on the killer’s motive was still unclear. That was prior to the reports that Dear used anti-abortion rhetoric at the shooting, that he’d distributed anti-Obama pamphlets to his neighbors and told them “Obama was ruining the country and needed to be impeached.”

  13. Stan,

    Where do you get the evidence that he was diagnosed mentally ill, which would make the issue of how he got guns a relevant topic?

    And if you don’t like the Second Amendment, I suggest you get to work trying to repeal it rather than just blaming it for everything you think is wrong.

  14. Pch101 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And if you don’t like the Second Amendment, I suggest you get to work trying to repeal it rather than just blaming it for everything you think is wrong.

    I support the Second Amendment, and would oppose any effort to repeal it. It’s the bastardized interpretation of that amendment authored by Scalia in the Heller case that I find to be problematic. Fortunately, that misinterpretation was so blatant and utterly shameless that I expect that it will eventually be overturned.

  15. Grumpy Realist says:

    I get the feeling that even if we had uterine replicators a heck of a lot of people would go into a hissy fit about it being immoral for women to use them.

    And guys like this would still find reasons to shoot up places they didn’t like. And the Second Amendment fanatics would still refuse any limits, regardless of the death count.

  16. OldSouth says:

    In any case, trying to tie one side of a political debate to the actions of someone who may well be a deranged lunatic with no coherent agenda at all strikes me as something that ought to be avoided on both sides of the aisle.

    Until facts are known, any number of truly wrong-headed opinions can be tossed about. Witness the vitriol posted here already. All of it to the effect of: ‘See??!!! I told you so!!!!”

    My sympathies especially with that police officer who went to work that morning, expecting to go home safely that evening, and with his poor family.

    Whatever motives the murderer may or may not have had, or how many sides of the political shouting match weigh in, that police officer did nothing to merit his fate.

    Secondarily–patients were shown being escorted, terrified, in little more than bedsheets, into the snow. Would it have been so hard for the television news editors, and their still shot editor brethren (and sisters) to obscure their faces before publishing? Loss of dignity and privacy was added on top of the shock and fear of the immediate situation. If the press is sooooo intent about championing privacy and feminist issues, they could begin by policing their own ghoulish behavior.

  17. @Pch101:

    The Heller case is completely supported by the contemporaneous history that led to the Amendment, and if you oppose Heller than what you are saying is that you don’t believe that people should have the right to have a handgun in their home for self-defense. Because that is the only thing that was actually decided in Heller.

  18. Pch101 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The Heller case is completely supported by the contemporaneous history that led to the Amendment

    You must be referring to some other Heller case.

    The Second Amendment addresses the purpose of the militia, i.e. “being necessary to the security of a free State” versus the “security of a free country” language favored by Madison. It also implicitly addressed the absence of a right to be a conscientious objector based upon religious grounds; Madison favored such a right, but that did not make the final cut.

    As written, the Bill of Rights addressed the rights of individuals vis-a-vis the federal government, not with each other or even with the individual states.

    Self defense was never the point of the amendment. Notice how nobody bothered to make murder, rape or robbery unconstitutional; one of the only crimes specified in the Constitution was treason. The founders left violent crime to the states and to statute.

  19. @Pch101:

    Yes, you either didn’t read Heller, or don’t understand it.

    Either way, you need to educate yourself sufficiently so that a rational conversation is possible.

  20. Kate says:

    I assume that the next time a jewelry store or bank is held up, the Democrat’s tirades against the 1% will be brought to bear in the debate over whose to blame.

  21. Pch101 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    This country went for 200 years without such an interpretation, and operated for several decades with Miller offering a markedly different view.

    The only thing that changed was the Supreme Court’s agenda and its obvious commitment to find something in the Second Amendment that isn’t there and wasn’t even contemplated in the Congressional debates. The Second Amendment essentially gives us a “right” to be drafted, as a counterbalance to a standing army.

  22. @Pch101:

    Miller only dealt with the Federal law regulating fully automatic weapons and short-barreled shotguns. That’s all.

    Heller was, really, the first SCOTUS case to deal directly with the 2nd Amendment as applied to the right of individuals to own weapons for self-defense.

  23. ernieyeball says:

    And if you don’t like the Second Amendment, I suggest you get to work trying to repeal it rather than just blaming it for everything you think is wrong.

    And guys like this would still find reasons to shoot up places they didn’t like. And the Second Amendment fanatics would still refuse any limits, regardless of the death count.

    The way I figure, Ken Rex McElroy of Skidmore, Missouri and Fridays 3 oblations to the 2nd Amendment are benefitting equally from the blessings bestowed upon us by this sacred clause.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/crime/article24591469.html

  24. Pch101 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Heller was, really, the first SCOTUS case to deal directly with the 2nd Amendment as applied to the right of individuals to own weapons for self-defense.

    And as Stevens (correctly) notes in his dissent, the founders did not specify that there is such right provided by the Second Amendment.

    It’s worth noting what was originally drafted by Madison and the issues that were debated in Congress. The proposed draft:

    The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person

    I would hope that it’s obvious that Madison was not arguing that Quakers et. al. should be denied gun rights that others would have. “Bearing arms” was an obvious reference to military service.

    The fact that the Congressional debates focused on this right to avoid service and expressed concerns that the Second Amendment as proposed by Madison would give license to draft dodgers who would conveniently find Jesus in order to skirt their duties would verify that everyone in the hall knew that they were debating a militia amendment that was effectively a companion piece to the Third Amendment. It’s only now that we have activists on the right who are willing to ignore this obvious context.

  25. DrDaveT says:

    the portrait of him as a loner who seems to have odd obsessions of his own also suggests that he fits into the pattern of other criminals who are acting independent of any real goal other than causing havoc, or perhaps, addressing some evil perceived largely due to what may well be mental illness

    And yet, if this obsessed loner had been named Mustafa instead of Robert, and had had a crescent-and-star rather than a cross painted on his trailer, and had attacked a synagogue rather than a Planned Parenthood clinic, I somehow doubt that you would be quite so unconvinced about his possible motivations.

    Seriously, Doug? Just pathetic.

  26. Mu says:

    We must have found Jesus himself, the content of the worst written amendment is obvious to him.

  27. Jeremy R says:

    Some information on two others killed by Dear has been released:

    Iraq war veteran, mother of 2 are ID’d as victims of Planned Parenthood shooting

    Jennifer Markovsky, 36, was accompanying a friend to the clinic when she was killed on Friday, said her father, John Ah-King.

    “She was the most lovable person,” Ah-King told The Denver Post from his home in Hawaii. “So kind-hearted, just always there when I needed her.”

    Ah-King said he found out about his daughter’s death from his other daughter who had been contacted by friends.

    “I couldn’t believe it,” Ah-King said through sobs. “I just messaged her Thursday to say happy Thanksgiving.”

    The third victim was identified as Ke’Arre Stewart, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and was the father of two children.

    Ke’Arre, 29, graduated from La Vega High School in Texas in 2004 and joined the Army, said friend Amburh Butler. Stewart was stationed at Fort Hood and did one tour in Iraq.

    Butler, also 29, had been friends with Stewart since they were 11 years old. “He was a stand-up guy,” she said. “If you were hungry, he fed you. If you were cold and needed a ride, he was just there. He was a good friend and an amazing listener.”

  28. michael reynolds says:

    The Second Amendment was a piece of disastrous stupidity from the Founders.

    Can we stop treating those men as demi-gods? They did very good work, but it was hardly flawless. They enshrined slavery, male-only franchise and gun-toting nuts into the Constitution. I understand their motives, I understand the politics, but all that just goes to the fact that they were politicians doing what politicians do.

    As for this week’s gun killer, he seems to have been nuts (if I may use a clinical term) and if nuts then his motive is largely irrelevant. People who are genuinely mentally ill have no more agency than a child would have.

    You can’t have it both ways with mental illness, if it’s identical to physical illness in that we blame neither type of sufferer for their condition, then neither agency (and hence motive) nor moral opprobrium attaches.

    If we insist that agency and opprobrium do attach, and it turns out he is genuinely mentally ill, then we are voiding the theory under which we treat rather than punish crazy perps.

    The question of whether this is “terrorism’ rests on the question of his mental health. We don’t have that answer yet, and we do not therefore know whether this is terrorism or whether he thought Planned Parenthood was selling fetuses to Ultron as snack food.

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Stan: In aggregate, we’re not good enough people to make changes in this situation. THAT’S why it doesn’t matter.

  30. Argon says:

    @Keith: Bingo Keith!

    It’s not as if Planned Parenthood facilities are on every streetcorner.

  31. Stan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Where do you get the evidence that he was diagnosed mentally ill, which would make the issue of how he got guns a relevant topic?

    And if you don’t like the Second Amendment, I suggest you get to work trying to repeal it rather than just blaming it for everything you think is wrong.”

    He’s either mentally ill or he’s a terrorist. I assumed the former because of the description in the press of his lifestyle. Of course its possible that he’s mentally ill and a terrorist.

    My objection to the Second Amendment is that it’s been used to weaken restrictions on the purchase of weapons to the point where obviously disturbed people are able to buy them and use them to slaughter the rest of us. I’m elderly and no longer up to ringing doorbells and handing out flyers, but one of the things I judge politicians on is their willingness to support restrictions on gun ownership.

    Finally, I don’t blame Second Amendment absolutists for everything. But I think they ought to engage in soul searching, something you seem incapable of. Jefferson put life before liberty in his list of unalienable rights for a reason.

  32. mcDIck says:

    try to find a more dishonest, pompous ass than Doug Mataconis. It aint easy.

  33. bk says:

    AN ENIGMA? If a guy shot up a synagogue and said after he was caught “No more Jews”, would you say that he was an enigma? You’re a both sides do it idiot, Doug.

  34. Stan says:

    Sorry to keep posting, but it occurred to me that the people who put out that edited video showing Planned Parenthood officials planning to harvest fetuses for body parts and the politicians who lied about what was in the video, Carly Forina, for example, have blood on their hands. This ought to give them sleepless nights. But it won’t.

  35. anjin-san says:

    I’m getting very tired of hearing Republicans bring mental illness into the discussion every time there is a mass shooting. They are not willing to spend a dime to fix our broken mental health system, and they are not willing to take any steps to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of folks with mental health problems.

    Stop hiding behind people with mental health problems, Stop using them as pawns in a bait & switch strategy to deflect the discussion we need to have about gun violence in America.

  36. An Interested Party says:

    I hope Doug has very good health insurance as he obviously broke his back bending over backwards to disingenuously paint this shooter as an “enigma”…

  37. bookdragon says:

    Juan Cole uses stronger language than I would, but I essentially agree with his response to this article:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/category/general-stupidity/

    (edited to link to category due to cuss word in direct link title)

    And as to Heller, fine. Israel permits private gun ownership for self-defense. However, they require some rational explanation of why you need a gun for self-defense and time spent in training and evaluation for both competency in use of the weapon and mental stability (either of which would have kept the gun out of Dear’s hands). Seems to me as though those requirements would not only infringe on 2nd Amendment rights, but would also give some weight to the long neglected ‘well-regulated militia’ part of it.

    But of course the NRA would have a conniption fit if anyone were to seriously propose such legislation.

  38. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Doug,

    Why to you continue to try be a “voice of reason in a post-truth fascist GOP America?

    According to GOP presidential Candidate, Ted Cruz, the shooter is a Transgendered Liberal Activist.

    (source: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/11/29/3726311/ted-cruz-planned-parenthood-shooting-transgendered/ )

    This settles it.

    It’s not about Planned Parenthood, Guns, or anything to do with conservatives.

    Nope. Not conservatives. no way. uh-uh.

  39. LWA (LIberal WIth Attitude) says:

    I’ve stopped supporting the 2nd Amendment, at least as it is understood.
    What natural moral right exists for the individual possession of a deadly weapon in a civilized society?
    I think its long past time to challenge the existence of any such “right”.

  40. Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.) says:

    Jeez, for realz? What would it take for you Very Serious People to say, for once, “Well, you know, I think maybe this does have something to do with abortion, and I think this guy might well be a right wing terrorist nut.”? I mean, great God, you have to cram your head a mighty good, long way up your own ass not to see what’s going on here.

  41. Davebo says:

    What the hell is an Engima? Good God Doug!

    You spent a lot of malformed words trying to avoid the obvious here.

  42. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As for this week’s gun killer, he seems to have been nuts (if I may use a clinical term) and if nuts then his motive is largely irrelevant. People who are genuinely mentally ill have no more agency than a child would have.

    There’s a spectrum, and while we assume he was not 100% healthy, there is also nothing, yet, to suggest that he was not in control of his actions or morally culpable.

    And, if he wasn’t morally culpable, we have to question the moral culpability of those who preach hate and point the crazed and violent nutjobs at specific targets. It’s basically implausible that he randomly selected a planned parenthood from the voices in his head without any outside influence.

    This wasn’t some random accident if Dear turns out to be completely insane. It’s like the murder of Dr. Tiller. The killer had mental health problems — likely schizophrenia, but I don’t see anything about a definitive diagnosis — but was clearly encouraged by the far right and given his target by the far right. Who is the terrorist, the nutjob, or the people who encourage the nutjobs and ramp up the anger and the hatred until one of the many nutjobs finally acts?

    Bill O’Reilly, Carly Fiorina and the Center for Medical Progress are the terrorists.

  43. grumpy realist says:

    Doug, can you fix the error in the title? (Engima–> Enigma)

  44. Gustopher says:

    @grumpy realist: I think he has the right word.

    Engima (n): A frivolous, unknowable mystery on the edge of the completely obvious thing in plain sight, which can be used to distract from the completely obvious thing in plain sight. For instance “While the accused was caught in the act with a horse, we can never understand the reasons — is he a hoof man, or a mane man, or just a leg man who wanted more legs than a human could provide? It’s an engima.”

  45. appleannie says:

    I don’t have a problem believing that he can be both a nutjob and a terrorist. By my lights, anyone who does this kind of thing for whatever cause is a nutjob. But an “enigma”? Please. If he’d shot up a Sikh temple while muttering about “no more baby parts”, that might be an enigma but this is not.

  46. Kari Q says:

    I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect Republican candidates for president to denounce violence and express sympathy for the victims, regardless of how much or little is known about the perpetrator, his motives, or whether it was a holiday weekend. There’s no way they were unaware of the events given the media coverage, and that would be the only reasonable excuse for not saying “my prayers go out to the victims and their families.” It’s not hard to issue a statement like that.

  47. grumpy realist says:

    It’s the standard “oh, we roused up the mob and pointed them at a target, but we’re not responsible for the lynching, nosirree!”

    That’s what a lot of talk radio comes off as. The fun of manipulating someone else into doing your killing for you.

    I suspect if Hillary gets elected POTUS we’re going to see similar ranting from the usual suspects. I don’t know if they’ll start going all Biblical and John Knox about women in power (Queen Elizabeth I was NOT pleased) or whether we’ll just get the standard anti-Clinton/Benghazi stuff all over again.

  48. Lit3Bolt says:

    Doug, why do you complain when the white terrorists get politicized?

  49. Pch101 says:

    Going back to Miller, this was the decision of the court:

    In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a “shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length” at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense.

    The Miller case wasn’t just about sawed-off shotguns specifically. Rather, the case provided a test for determining what firearms ownership was constitutionally protected. The answer: It had to have “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” The test in Miller was the weapon’s relevance to the “common defense”, not “self defense.”

  50. Pch101 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    According to GOP presidential Candidate, Ted Cruz, the shooter is a Transgendered Liberal Activist.

    As far as I can tell, this “story” originally came from Breitbart. All of the hysteria that’s fit to print.

  51. BJ says:

    If a Muslim man shot up a synagogue and told the cops “No more Jews,” would his motives be enigmatic?

    If a black man shot a cop and said “f__k the police” while being arrested, would we have to wait to figure out his motivations?

    But if a crazy loner gun nut shoots a bunch of people in front of a planned parenthood, carrying explosive devices with him, and states “No more baby parts,” which JUST SO HAPPENS to be rhetoric tossed around by right to lifers the past few months, and it’s a GIANT RIDDLE what his motivations might have been. It’s a real whodunit. Lemme guess, you probably think Dr. Tiller’s killer just had a thing against lab coats.

    May he have said a number of other things? Sure. Crazy people say all sorts of crazy stuff. But you can’t deny where he was and what he said. It’s not a riddle. It’s the result of calculated rhetoric that is DESIGNED to encourage this kind of behavior.

  52. JohnMcC says:

    Certainly has been covered and as so often, I am late and have little to add. But one smallish contribution regarding the ?insanity vs ?terrorism issue: If the general population of the US ever decides to have no more of these mass shootings (something long long overdue) it will be important to choose whether to deal with them as an insanity issue or as a gun-ownership issue. As difficult as it would be to actually control the number and distribution of firearms it would be much much more destructive of civil liberties to have every American’s mental health to become the government’s concern.

    Second Amendment absolutists are advancing the day when we all will have to prove we’re sane. In my case, there would be some room for doubt (if you asked my ex…..)

  53. Davebo says:

    @anjin-san:

    Much like conservatives suddenly realize there are homeless veterans out there when trying to block Syrian refugees.

    But hey, it’s all an enigma wrapped in a paradox right? And who could have predicted it?

  54. C. Clavin says:

    which would seem to be a reference to the controversy that erupted over the summer that Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses, which would be a violation of the law if true.

    Ummm…you do realize that this has been thoroughly debunked and several state level investigations have found nothing illegal? Right? What you are calling a controversy is complete BS. And here we have people dying because of it…and the right wing extremists trying to make policy based on it. It is the complete failure to call a spade a spade, in an craven effort to be “neutral”, that leads to this. By extension…everyone who fails to point out the total fallacy of this controversy, and especially the ones who are behind the fraud perpetrated in the video, have blood on their hands.

  55. @C. Clavin:

    you do realize that this has been thoroughly debunked and several state level investigations have found nothing illegal? Right?

    Considering the fact that, in the body of the post, I link to an article talking about the results of those investigations, then I would think that, yes, I am aware of the results of those investigations. I’m not really sure what your point is, but it seems to be another example of why I rarely engage in debates on anything relating to abortion. The hard-core on both sides already has their minds made up, regularly calls the other side the most vile names conceivable, and really isn’t interested in discussing so much as venting.

  56. C. Clavin says:

    For the life of me I do not get the distinction that the RWNJ’s are trying to make between insanity and terrorism.
    Does anyone think for a minute that someone who sets off a bomb strapped to their chest, in a crowded area, is not insane?
    The RWNJ’s are all clamoring to surrender if a brown skinned man kills a bunch of people in Paris…but not if a white guy kills a bunch of people in Colorado. The level of xenophobia is awe-inspiring; there is no other explanation for the level of rank hypocrisy.

  57. C. Clavin says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I missed the link at the bottom of the post…my bad.

  58. Modulo Myself says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Absolutely. I get the sense that a lot of 2nd Amendment people would happily force non-violent functioning schizophrenics into institutions merely because they happen to have a TV talk to them once or twice rather than give up a portion of their arsenals.

  59. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    To date, none of the investigations that have been conducted because of those videos have found any violation of the law, but that doesn’t mean the investigations were unwarranted.

    emphasis mine. There was no evidence of a criminal act, but it’s OK for several red states to conduct criminal investigations anyway? So you’re OK with these ongoing Republican Inquisitions. Pick somebody like Lois Lerner and destroy her career purely for political gain? Try to harass PP out of business although they’ve done nothing improper? Again, purely for political gain.

    Somewhat related – I’m not a fan of Richard Posner. To quote Catch 22, I find his prose too prolix. But boy howdy did he get right to the point in his ruling overturning Wisconsin’s new abortion clinic admitting privileges law.

  60. James Pearce says:

    I’ve been laid low by food poisoning the last few days, and even while I was experiencing different realities in a fever state, it wasn’t confusing or mysterious why this nut job, moaning on about “no more baby parts,” shot up a Planned Parenthood.

    To be fair, though, I’m not sure how much right-wing edutainment he was able to consume on his off-the-grid homestead. I’m gonna go with, “Just enough.”

    (By the way, don’t eat at McCoy’s.)

  61. C. Clavin says:

    Carly Fiorina, who famously lied about what she saw on the completely phony Planned Parenthood videos…

    “watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

    …is now saying that there is no connection between the foaming rage of right-wing-nut-job politics over the selling of baby parts…and this shooter, who reportedly said “no more baby parts”.
    Ted Cruz is lying about this guy with a full beard being transgender.
    And Fox News is lying about this being a bank robbery.
    If you have to lie to defend the stand you are taking…then you don’t have much of a stand to take.

  62. Pch101 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Ted Cruz is lying about this guy with a full beard being transgender.

    As I noted above, it appears that the transgendered story came from Breitbart, which is not exactly known for its journalistic rigor.

    Breitbart claimed that Dear’s voter registration records stated that he was female. It didn’t occur to the geniuses who read Breitbart that even if this is true that it is almost certainly nothing more than a typographical error on the voter registration record.

    What that tells you is that some people who read Breitbart are dumb enough to take it seriously. I’ve always regarded that sort of media as a form of entertainment with the integrity of Pravda, but these right-wingnut clowns are so thick that they really don’t know better. They’re high-disinformation voters who believe that they are informed, the dictionary definition of irony.

  63. al-Ameda says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    According to GOP presidential Candidate, Ted Cruz, the shooter is a Transgendered Liberal Activist.

    Exactly, the mainstream conservative media has already tried to preempt any suggestion by liberals that supply and availability of guns, and/or anti-reproductive rights or anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric had anything to do with these murders.

  64. Bill Lefrak says:

    We’ve reached the point of our leftism-infused decline where all shootings will be politicized.

    We have a retarded media that gets worse by the day. A nation of sociopaths combined with academic and pundit classes made up almost exclusively of airheaded theorists. Even the sober elements of the politico classes have to play in those sandboxes, which obviously affects the tone and nature of the former’s rhetoric.

    Try to fathom the reaction in the chattering classes the next time a major U.S. city is hit with a terrorist attack. The stupidity hardly will be able to be contained.

  65. al-Ameda says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    We’ve reached the point of our leftism-infused decline where all shootings will be politicized.

    Ted Cruz is a leftist?

  66. C. Clavin says:

    Since 1977 there have been 8 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 incidents of arson against abortion clinics and providers.
    Since the phony videos were released there has been an uptick in criminal and/or suspicious incidents…including cyber attacks, threats, and arsons.
    So even in the extreme unlikelihood that this latest incident is not related to Planned Parenthood…the extremist right wing rhetoric still has had consequences that the extremist right wing nut jobs refuse to acknowledge.

  67. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    And Mr Dear brought

    “duffel bags full of rifles and handguns”

    with him to Planned Parenthood that day.
    It would be great to see one single Republican stand up and call out radical christian right-wingers for the very real domestic terror threat they represent.