Shooter Opens Fire At Family Research Council D.C. Offices

A gunman, possibly upset about FRC's policies, shot a guard at the conservative Christian group's Washington, D.C. offices this morning.


A gunman, possibly upset about FRC’s policies, shot a guard at the conservative Christian group’s Washington, D.C. offices this morning:

A security guard at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., was shot in the arm by a gunman who sources said expressed disagreement with the conservative group’s policy positions.

The guard, who was not identified, was conscious after the shooting and was being treated. The shooting occurred in the Chinatown neighborhood Wednesday morning. The gunman was apprehended and was being questioned by the FBI, sources said. Sources said he is in his twenties and may have been posing as an intern.

The suspect “made statements regarding their policies, and then opened fire with a gun striking a security guard,” a source told Fox News.

According to WaPo, the “guard and others wrestled the man to the ground, disarmed him and waited for police,” despite being shot at some point. An impressive feat, to be sure.

Reports are still sketchy, so the usual caveats about getting all the facts before jumping to any conclusions apply. If he did turn out to be motivated by antipathy for FRC’s politics, however….

FILED UNDER: Crime, Guns and Gun Control
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    If he did turn out to be motivated by antipathy for FRC’s politics, however….

    However what?

  2. Lit3Bolt says:

    However, libs have to own their shooters while conservatives disavvow theirs as “lone nuts.”

  3. Rob in CT says:

    If this guy actually is politically motivated and it turns out he became radicalized by reading some crazed lefty rhetoric, I’m fine with pointing to it and suggesting that heated rhetoric can have consequences.

    But I’ll continue to do that when politically-motivated nuts shoot people because they read wingnut literature and whatnot. At which point there will be 10,000 metric tons of Right-wing butthurt about it. Again.

  4. MattT says:

    If he was an intern, maybe the “policies” he was concerned about were more related to his personal employment than FRC’s broader political positions. Have to wait and see.

    I’m also wondering what comes after “however…”

  5. If he did turn out to be motivated by antipathy for FRC’s politics, however….

    Hey crazy gunman, YOU’RE NOT HELPING.

  6. Joe Carter says:

    @MattT: The shooter wasn’t an intern. FRC (where I used to work) has received numerous threats over the years, so to get in the building you have to use an intercom to identify yourself or state your business. The guard will let you in at that point.

    Apparently, the shooter claimed he was an intern in order to get in the door. That was an effective ploy because the staff is large enough that not everyone knows all the interns working in the building.

    Also, the WaPo story doesn’t clarify whether the guard was armed or not. He carries no weapon on his post. He is just a very courageous.

  7. Nikki says:

    If he did turn out to be motivated by antipathy for FRC’s politics, however…

    What Modulo Myself said. For all anyone knows, he may be a righty who thinks that FRC isn’t radical enough.

    Hey, my guess is as good as anyone else’s.

  8. DRS says:

    @Joe Carter:

    Apparently, the shooter claimed he was an intern in order to get in the door. That was an effective ploy because the staff is large enough that not everyone knows all the interns working in the building.

    Sounds like an antiquated system to me, instituted when the staff was smaller and known to each other. They may want to check out later security models.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    However…Doug would have one case of both sides do it.

  10. Joe Carter says:

    @DRS: Perhaps so. But its an office where there are numerous visitors on a daily basis. And if there is an event going on, there can be hundreds of people—mostly strangers—coming and going. (A key card is required to get up the elevator, though.)

    Unless an office wants to lock their building down like CIA HQ, then it’s not likely that it could have been prevented. FRC is fortunate to have a security guard who was dedicated to ensuring the safety of his fellow coworkers.

  11. mattb says:

    @Joe Carter:
    Totally agree on the quality of that security guard — especially being willing to fight versus flight when confronted with an armed attacker.

    And the general point about the security system makes sense as well for an organization of that size, located in a building without a ground-floor, central reception area.

  12. DRS says:

    There are other options than the CIA model. A lobby camera might be a good investment.

  13. Joe Carter says:

    @mattb: Totally agree on the quality of that security guard — especially being willing to fight versus flight when confronted with an armed attacker.

    I’d like to think that most guards—most men—would do the same, but I’m not sure that is true anymore. For one thing, there is not much incentive for being brave anymore.

    It’s a shame that our first response as a culture is not “what was this nut’s political affiliation?” instead of being awed by acts of bravery. It’s similar to the Aurora shooting. More people seemed to care about the shooters political motivations (if any) than the fact that three men died protecting their girlfriends.

    We can’t prevent violent and insane people from acting crazy, but at least we can spotlight and attempt to encourage the type of bravery that limits the effect of such tragedies.

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @DRS:

    There are other options than the CIA model. A lobby camera might be a good investment.

    Yes, that will certainly deter a gunman who’s willing to die in the attack.

  15. Commonist says:

    Hm. If some powerful gay organization said I didn’t deserve to have a heterosexual family I would probably start shooting people too.

  16. @Commonist:

    “When fighting monsters, take care not to become a monster yourself.”

  17. alanmt says:

    Kudos to the guard who did his job and did it well. This is America. No one, including employees of designated hate groups, deserve to be attacked violently for any reason, whether politically or personally motivated.

    I wish the guard a full and speedy recovery, and for the criminal who shot him and intended additional harm, a speedy and fair prosecution, with just punishment.

  18. Commonist says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Take care to become a bigger monster.

    War is politics through other means. Politics is war through other means.

    They wanted to oppress the shooter, the shooter oppressed back. Fix your democracy.

  19. Joe Carter says:

    @Commonist: They wanted to oppress the shooter, the shooter oppressed back. Fix your democracy.

    Spoken like a true fascist.

  20. Commonist says:

    @Joe Carter:

    No, fascism is treating homosexuals as second-class citizens and equating women with zygotes. And what has America done with fascists in the past?

  21. mattb says:

    @Commonist:

    No, fascism is treating homosexuals as second-class citizens and equating women with zygotes. And what has America done with fascists in the past?

    Your realize that same *morally* based argument/call-to-action can easily be given for opening fire on abortion providers… right?

    Again, this is what Robert Bolt’s Thomas More was speaking out again in the famous passage from “A Man for All Seasons:”

    Wife: Arrest him!
    More: For what?
    Wife: He’s dangerous!
    Roper: For all we know he’s a spy!
    Daughter: Father, that man’s bad!
    More: There’s no law against that!
    Roper: There is, God’s law!
    More: Then let God arrest him!
    Wife: While you talk he’s gone!
    More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
    Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
    This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down (and you’re just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

    Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    I don’t agree with just about anything that the FRC has produced. But suggesting that the shooter was somehow justafied is lunacy.

  22. swbarnes2 says:

    @alanmt:

    I wish the guard a full and speedy recovery,

    Sure, but since the FRC opposed the ACA, one has to wonder what this guy’s health care situation is.

  23. alanmt says:

    @Joe Carter:

    Actually, spoken like a original Boston Tea Party patriot, albeit misguided.

    Words have meaning, and “fascist” is not some blanket epithet. The only potential nascent fascist movement in the U.S. currently is Christian Dominionism and that movement hasn’t abandoned the core principles of classical liberalism entirely.

  24. Commonist says:

    “Your realize that same *morally* based argument/call-to-action can easily be given for opening fire on abortion providers… right?”

    Yes, except you are stupid if you think abortion is murder, while you are smart if you don’t think abortion is murder.

    People aren’t equal, you see. Dumber people are worth less, and smart people deserve to shoot them if they try to force their dumb ways onto the world.

    This was the rationale for defeating the Third Reich. The Third Reich believed they were the good guys. The allies thought they were the good guys. The difference is that the allies were right, because they knew more about how society should be and this gave them a moral right to kill Axis soldiers.

    This is very simple if you cut through the bullsauce.

  25. Rob in CT says:

    No, no, no a thousand times no, Commonist.

    People aren’t equal, you see. Dumber people are worth less, and smart people deserve to shoot them if they try to force their dumb ways onto the world.

    Is this a parody/performance art attempt? If so, it fails to be funny, which is a crime (I figure I should shoot you for it).

    If it’s serious, I strongly suggest you step back, take a deep breath, and maybe refrain from arguing with people who are wrong on the internet for a week or something.

  26. Rob in CT says:

    One more thing: politics is war by other means

    Those “other means” being arguing, voting, and other non-violent efforts. Only a stupid person (who therefore deserves to be shot, apparently) would fail to understand that.

  27. Commonist says:

    @Rob in CT:

    If there is a war between two nations, with one nation having a fascist code of laws and another having a freer, more liberal one, the soldiers of the second nation have a right to kill the fascist soldiers, but the soldiers from the fascist nation don’t have a moral cause to shoot back – they should turn cloak or desert.

  28. DRS says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It would help the guard identify someone who tried to get into the building claiming to be an employee or intern, which is apparently what happened here. Tape from a security camera is also helpful in a trial too.

    Don’t be so melodramatic.

  29. Mikey says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    However what?

    Every liberal who tried to pin the Tuscon shooting on the Tea Party and Palin’s cross-hairs map will be falling all over themselves to label the FRC shooter a lone whacko.

    Meanwhile, every conservative who was outraged at what liberals tried to do with the Tuscon shooting will be gleefully smearing every liberal with what the FRC shooter did.

    And nothing will be new under the sun.

  30. al-Ameda says:

    @Commonist:

    Take care to become a bigger monster.
    War is politics through other means. Politics is war through other means.
    They wanted to oppress the shooter, the shooter oppressed back. Fix your democracy.

    Seriously, are you okay?

  31. Jeremy R says:

    If he did turn out to be motivated by antipathy for FRC’s politics, however….

    How about finishing your sentence?

    It would seem he’d then be something akin to the wingnut who was arrested on the way to shoot up the Tides Foundation or the anti-tax, sovereign citizen, goldbug who flew a plane into that IRS building, or the white supremacists who were responsible for trying to bomb the MLK parade & the shooting at the Sikh temple, or the anti-muslim bigots who have placed incendiary devices at and burned down a number of mosques, or the Hutaree Militia religious nuts who were planning a massacre.

  32. Rob in CT says:

    @Commonist:

    Frothing rage-induced inebriation (ragebriation?) is no way to go through life, son.

    Seriously, take a step back. It’ll be healthy.

  33. John D'Geek says:

    @Rob in CT: Please don’t feed the Troll.

  34. MattT says:

    @Joe Carter: Thanks for the clarification and +1 on kudos for the guard.

  35. Commonist says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Silly goose.

    Hate and anger are good affects. Wanting all the homophobes, anti-seculars, bigots, enslavers of women and other vermin to die is a good position.

    Of course, wanting someone to die and wanting to kill someone are widely different things.

  36. Gustopher says:

    We make it easy for people to get guns in this country. People get shot.

    That’s really all there is to this story. There are a few frivolous details around the edges, but ultimately, guns will be used. What else would you expect to happen?

    I think it’s a reasonable argument to say that we as a society value our freedom more than we value our safety, and that periodic shootings are an acceptable cost for our freedom.

    It’s like cars. Lots of people die in car crashes, but we find being able to travel independently worth the costs.

  37. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The gunman was apparently carrying Chick-Fil-A stuff to further his disguise. Before he started shooting, he denounced the FRC’s policies. And after the wounded guard took away his gun, the gunman said “Don’t shoot me, it was not about you, it was what this place stands for.”

    All i can say is, thank God the guard didn’t have a gun. If he did, he might have shot back and some innocent might have been wounded in the crossfire. So this is actually a success for DC’s strong gun control laws — a Wild West-style shootout was averted today.

  38. spindle789 says:

    I’ll come back tomorrow. Maybe this blog post will be complete by then.

  39. al-Ameda says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think it’s a reasonable argument to say that we as a society value our freedom more than we value our safety, and that periodic shootings are an acceptable cost for our freedom.

    That is pretty much the truth. We’re a nation that has 310M people and over 250M guns, and it’s very easy to acquire weaponry. So clearly, rather than try the minor limitations like banning the sales of automatic weapons, we’re willing to accept the periodic mass shootings that will inevitably occur. It’s kind of like influenza (get your flu vaccination and hope for the best).

  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: “banning the sales of automatic weapons?” Sheesh.

    First, automatic weapons are already pretty much banned. Second, I don’t recall the last time an automatic weapon was used in a crime.

    Hell, in 2010 more people were killed with fists than with rifles.

    So, when do we start condemning the “culture of hate” and “inciteful rhetoric” and whatnot over this shooting? Who on the left should be apologizing for enabling this hate crime and act of domestic terrorism?

  41. superdestroyer says:

    @alanmt:

    I guess the irony is lost when calling the group that was attacked as the hate group?

  42. An InterestedParty says:

    If he did turn out to be motivated by antipathy for FRC’s politics, however….this incident can be used by some conservatives to smear liberals as a whole.

    Happy to be of help…I guess that thumb was busy killing a mime and wasn’t available to help finish the original sentence…

  43. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Apparently the shooter is a gay rights activist who volunteered with a DC gay rights group. Should we investigate that group to see if he was part of a larger conspiracy?

  44. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    First, automatic weapons are already pretty much banned. Second, I don’t recall the last time an automatic weapon was used in a crime.

    My apologies, I should have said assault weapons ban, as in the one that expired in 2004, which Congress declined to extend. But really it does not matter. America is awash in guns.

    Hell, in 2010 more people were killed with fists than with rifles.

    Worthless analogy

    So, when do we start condemning the “culture of hate” and “inciteful rhetoric” and whatnot over this shooting? Who on the left should be apologizing for enabling this hate crime and act of domestic terrorism?

    I condem the ability of this idiot to acquire a gun in the first place. But maybe that’s irrelevant too, because hypothetically he could have accomplished the same thing with his fists, right?

  45. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: Oh, you meant “assault weapon.” That, sir, was a term invented in the 1990’s and was quite accurately described by those who actually understand guns as “a scary-looking gun.” Almost none of the defining features of an “assault weapon” have any real use in crimes.

    The Sikh temple shooter had one of those, with a 100-round magazine. Scary, right? Until you realize that the magazine jammed on him. That means that had the assault weapons ban been in place, he would have had to carry several magazines that were of lower capacity to have the same number of rounds, and in all likelihood killed more people.

    The so-called “assault weapons” ban? It had no real effect. It banned a bunch of features that were pretty worthless for criminals — flash suppressors, bayonet mounts, and so on — that made guns look scary and little else. The gun-makers just made the trivial cosmetic changes required and kept making the same guns.

    What the real message here is that the Left, by their own moral standards, is responsible for thsi shooting. They’re labeling every frigging right-wing group a “hate group,” simply because they oppose liberal causes.

    The term “hate group” used to actually mean something. it meant a group that actively hated certain classes of people, and wanted them killed/deported/locked up or something equally extreme. Now, it’s applied to cases like Chick-Fil-A, a corporation that donates money to oppose gay marriage. They aren’t pushing for gays to be rounded up or ostracized or killed. They don’t refuse to serve or hire gay people, they aren’t pushing to legalize gay-bashing or demanding that all gays with AIDS wear identifying tattoos (a proposal I recall from ages ago) or anything.

    Calling a group like the FRC a “hate group” incites hatred back at them. It helps rationalize this kind of violence — if they’re hateful, then it’s OK to hate them back. And since hate groups are out to destroy a whole group of people, then it’s only self-defense to try to destroy them back.

    “Yeah, I know we called them a hate group and we said they were out to destroy gays, but we didn’t expect a gay man (assumption here, but he certainly was incredibly wrapped up in the gay rights cause) to actually resort to violence to stop them. Why, we had no idea that anyone would actually take us seriously!”

    It’s time for the Left to own the moral responsibility for the consequences of their disgustingly overheated rhetoric and gross overuse of the term “hate.” Yesterday, it got a guy shot.

    But legal responsibility? Hell, no. It’s their legal right to keep saying such stupid, dangerous things. Just like it’s my legal right to call them out.

  46. bill says:

    he looks like a skin-head, with lgbt sympathies. bet he get’s off easy, no pun intended.

  47. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I just found someone else who said pretty much what I said about “hate groups,” but better:

    Bigotry just ain’t what it used to be.

    Back in the day, you had to work at it. You had to actively hate other people for attributes over which they had little or no control, and on top of that you had to translate your hatred into concrete action: denying blacks their right to vote, shutting women out of educational and professional opportunities, bashing gays – it was a lot of work.

    Now the bar has been lowered so much, anybody can be a bigot without even getting up off the sofa. The Great Chicken War showed that in 2012, all one need do is subscribe to a conventional understanding of Christian teaching, and boom! You’re a bigot.

    That’s a glib treatment of a serious topic, I know, but bear with me.

    Twenty years ago – shoot, five years ago – my opinion that gays should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else marked me as an open-minded person. Suddenly, without my views changing a whit, the goalposts have moved and I am, evidently, a bigot.

    I’m not even particularly opposed to gay marriage; I’m fine with it when achieved via the political process, but opposed to having it imposed by judicial fiat. I want my gay friends and relatives to enjoy the same rights as everyone else, but I also want people with religious objections to homosexuality to be treated respectfully, and not run roughshod over their views.

    What. He. Said.

  48. Nikki says:

    Now, it’s applied to cases like Chick-Fil-A, a corporation that donates money to oppose gay marriage.

    Who has classified Chik-fil-A as a hate group?

    The FRC, however, more than deserves the title.

  49. Habbit says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The term “hate group” used to actually mean something. it meant a group that actively hated certain classes of people, and wanted them killed/deported/locked up or something equally extreme. Now, it’s applied to cases like Chick-Fil-A, a corporation that donates money to oppose gay marriage. They aren’t pushing for gays to be rounded up or ostracized or killed. They don’t refuse to serve or hire gay people, they aren’t pushing to legalize gay-bashing or demanding that all gays with AIDS wear identifying tattoos (a proposal I recall from ages ago) or anything.

    Completely agree… prepare to receive tons negative ratings from people who one, think federal and state governments turning blind eyes to roping blacks to the back of a car and dragging them through the streets is synonymous with disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle… and two, are cheering this guy on from behind their computer monitors.

  50. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Nikki: Google the phrase “hate chicken.” Here’s a hint: the animal-rights people barely made the top 3.

  51. Rob in CT says:

    When somebody shows up and supports the shooter, and liberals repeatedly smack down said argument, some posters STILL want to try and tie all liberals to this.

    Typical. Oh well, that’s the internet for you.

    By the way, Jenos: sometimes the “goalposts” of bigotry move. That is how change happens. There are lots of people who crave stasis, I guess. Goalposts that never move (this, to me, is the best explanation for the popularity of fundamentalism). I guess that is comforting. Doesn’t make it right, though.

    So Bluto doesn’t get to stand athwart History yelling stop! Even though that would make him feel better.

    But we’re now pretty far afield from the topic.

    Apparently the shooter is a gay rights activist who volunteered with a DC gay rights group. Should we investigate that group to see if he was part of a larger conspiracy?

    Yes, of course.

  52. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rob in CT: I’m not trying to tie this nut to anyone. I’m just asking if the same standards that were used after the Tuscon shooting, the Sikh temple shooting, and a host of other similar cases by liberals apply here.

    In your case, apparently, yes. But you don’t speak for everyone…

  53. Just Me says:

    I think the media largely ignored this because nobody died.

    I think the media wants to continue to ignore it, or at least ignore who the attacker was and who influenced him, because it doesn’t fit their world view of who hates and is violent.

    If this was reversed and a gunman shot, ,but didn’t kill a security guard at say HRC, the media would have been all over it within minutes and speculated all about how the shooter was affiliated with conservative groups.

    I imagine in the end, like almost every other shooting this guy will probably end up having some mental issues.

    But this story doesn’t fit the media narrative of who hates and who kills so they aren’t going to jump over themselves trying to cover it.

  54. Rob in CT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Actually, I wasn’t referring to you. I should have simply said “Habbit.”

  55. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rob in CT: That would have been helpful, and Habbit was a bit over the top. But strip away the hyperbole and he/she has a point: the attention being paid to this shooting is far less than prior, similar incidents. Part of it can be attributed to the ineptness of the shooter (say what you want about right-wing extremists, but they tend to be considerably more adept than the left, for at least the last few decades), but part of it is that this breaks the narrative.

    So no, he won’t be celebrated. But he will be ignored, treated as an aberration, and quickly forgotten about.

  56. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rob in CT: As far as the “goalposts” point, it’s a bit more than that. It really wasn’t that long ago when Senator Bluto’s position would have been seen as progressive and enlightened and tolerant, lauded by the left and condemned from the right. He hasn’t changed one whit, but now he and those like him are hateful bigots not that far removed from those who killed Matthew Shepherd.

    Those aren’t shifting goalposts. Those are goalposts that have been dug up and replanted on another whole field.

  57. Rob in CT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Nobody died. That’s pretty big.

    treated as an aberration

    Because it is.

    It really wasn’t that long ago when Senator Bluto’s position would have been seen as progressive and enlightened and tolerant, lauded by the left and condemned from the right. He hasn’t changed one whit, but now he and those like him are hateful bigots not that far removed from those who killed Matthew Shepherd.

    There’s more than a little hyperbole here. No, 5 years ago a seperate but equal argument was not progressive/enlightened (tolerant, but misguided, yes). Maybe 10 years ago. Maybe 15 even. Second, who is claiming “not far removed from those who killed Matthew Shepherd” ?

    The goalposts *have* moved. It’s true. This happens. And they’ve moved pretty fast, all things considered. Shrug.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    I’m not even particularly opposed to gay marriage; I’m fine with it when achieved via the political process, but opposed to having it imposed by judicial fiat.

    Oh yes indeed, like those pesky Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia decisions….why couldn’t the people of the South have simply been allowed to vote on those issues?

    I want my gay black friends and relatives to enjoy the same rights as everyone else, but I also want people with religious objections to homosexuality miscegenation to be treated respectfully, and not run roughshod over their views.

    Not too many steps needed from one place to another…

  59. bill says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: as i always say, “hate requires effort”. my “aloofness” about certain aspects of all this stuff never registers as “hate” to me- some people need to justify their existence by claiming others “hate” them for whatever reason. indifference and hate are not even close in my book. great point you made!

  60. Habbit says:

    @Rob in CT:

    When somebody shows up and supports the shooter, and liberals repeatedly smack down said argument, some posters STILL want to try and tie all liberals to this.

    Which is absolutely H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S because from your very first post you couldn’t even restrain yourself from getting a “right-winger” jab in! Shall we just say you wish you had the balls like this guy to effectuate your disdain of the “right?” 🙂

  61. Habbit says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Not too many steps needed from one place to another…

    Except, you know, the whole public and legal lynching thing.

    I think I would support a punch to the face for those who attempt to equate being born black with a sexual behavior.