Thursday, August 27, 2015

In shootings-suicides, the real crime is easy gun access

In Tenafly this morning, an employee of a nearby funeral home stopped traffic to allow a procession to pass.


Today's front-page story on the "choreographed execution" of a Virginia TV reporter and cameraman doesn't even bother mentioning how easy it was for their deranged former colleague to get a gun.

And inside The Record, a full page of additional wire-service coverage mentions the gun only once:

Gunman Vester Flanagan, 41, an African American who shot and killed himself hours later, said he put down a deposit on the weapon on June 19, apparently to avenge the Charleston church massacre two days earlier (A-1 and A-6).

Ignoring the nation's continuing gun problem, Tamara Lush of The Associated Press describes the victims, reporter Allison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, as "two young journalists, eager and hungry for a story" (A-6).

The media are not only glorifying Parker and Ward, they're withholding images of their horrific slayings -- images that might give politicians the courage to do something except collect special-interest money to maintain the status quo.

Leave it to Parker's father, Andy, to say what The Record and other media should be saying every day of the year:

"We've got to do something about crazy people getting guns," Andy Parker said on Fox News, urging Virginia officials "to close loopholes and background checks."

Word pushers

The easy availability of guns also didn't concern The Record's editors, reporters and columnist who devoted more than a full newspaper page this past Sunday to Kevin Downing of Fort Lee.

A follow-up news story and a long Mike Kelly column didn't even mention how Downing got the gun he used to shoot a security guard inside a Manhattan federal building and then himself last Friday.

Most of the news story describes Downing's descent into hell after he was fired from his economist's job at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1999, and spent 16 fruitless years trying to get it back.

'My phone rang'

The long piece by Kelly -- The Record's sorry excuse for a New Jersey columnist -- goes on and on about the dilemma he and other reporters supposedly face when people like Downing call them: 

Are they telling the truth?

Kelly's column is filled with "I" and "me" and "my," as in, "I was intrigued but skeptical" of Downing's "whistle-blower case."

On Page 1, his first paragraph lands with the impact of a wet noodle:

"On an otherwise ordinary Wednesday morning, my phone rang."


After describing the variety of people who call him -- from an elderly widow on a fixed income" to "a prison inmate"  to a "father or mother in ... a difficult custody fight" -- Kelly laments:

"The stories are often compelling and heartbreaking.
But are they true ..., are they newsworthy enough to write about?"

Of course, unlike Kelly, columnists who have strong opinions, and are willing to challenge authority, might question a system that forced Downing to fight 16 long years before cracking and grabbing a gun.

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