While the NRA and other gun-rights groups have kept silent in the past few days out of respect for victims of Elliot Rodger’s senseless killing spree in Santa Barbara, California, on Friday evening, the Washington Post saw fit to run a front-pager today devoted to the anti-gun crusade of Richard Martinez, the father of one of Rodger’s victims.
While Mr. Martinez is understandably distraught about the loss of his son, it is unfortunate that the paper would play off Martinez’s raw emotion and deliver readers an unbalanced story skewed heavily in favor of stronger gun restrictions. Post staffer Kimberly Kindy noted, deep in her article, that the NRA did not reply to requests for comment, but she failed to seek out other pro-gun rights voices who might like to give her readers the other side of the story.
For his part, Martinez did not place blame on state or local mental health officials or the police for his son’s death, which ended with Elliot Rodger fatally shooting himself. For Martinez, the higher-ups of the NRA should ultimately be held responsible:
I’m angry with the leadership of the NRA who always want to characterize this as if it’s a lone madman. That it’s an act of nature we have to tolerate. I am angered by how they have worked to normalize this.
Mr. Martinez is justifiably angry at what happened to his son, albeit arguably quite misguided about how it might have been prevented.
The Post opportunistically pounced on the tragedy while gun-rights supporters have stayed quiet out of respect for the victims and their families. When Mr. Martinez professed his disdain for semi-automatic assault rifles, would it have been so difficult to note that a ban on such weapons would have saved precisely zero lives in this particular shooting? Elliot Rodger used a handgun to kill half of his victims. The rest, his roommates, were stabbed to death in his apartment.
Police accounts also note how Rodger had attempted to run over innocent bystanders. Even without a gun, Rodger would have murdered at least three individuals and may have succeeded in killing others with his BMW, which “he used as a battering ram against bicyclists and skateboarders.”
If the Post wants to have a reasonable discussion on gun violence, they should be willing to hear arguments from both sides of the debate. Otherwise, they likely would be better off letting passions settle before delving into this hotly contested issue.