The exceptions that prove the rule

When I reported on the murder of eight people in Atlanta recently, I was chastised by some for not insisting that the suspect was a racist. I didn’t insist on it because I didn’t know if he was or not. I still don’t. It won’t surprise me if he is, but that’s not a strong enough reason for me to become dogmatic about it. I have to have evidence before I make an accusation. I’m funny that way.

Likewise, I didn’t make any hasty judgments about the Boulder, Colorado shooter either. I’ll admit I’m surprised that it’s emerging that apparently he was a reader of the Washington Post and that he hated Donald Trump, but I’m not shocked. It’s usually true that people inclined to pick up AR-15s and go hunting humans are very often rightwing wackos, but not always. For me, the principal thing is that they are murderers, and we need to make it harder for murderers to get their hands on guns.

It’s a statistically provable fact that most gun-related mass murders in the United States are committed by racist conservatives. That doesn’t mean they all are. These latest two may just be the exceptions that prove the rule. We shall see. But when we leap to a conclusion about the politics and motives of a suspect, we set ourselves up for an inevitable fall. This is why it’s best to wait until all the facts are in. Nothing is gained by being the first to make an accusation. Nothing is lost by waiting.

It is true that the vast majority of Republicans in Congress are pro-gun because they are funded by the NRA. If we keep our eye on the moral point about gun violence and avoid trying to politicize it, our message won’t get diluted by politics. Then we can justly point to Republicans as the politicizers, because you can bet they will make a huge deal out of the fact that the Boulder shooter’s name is Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa.

But I do know one political truth about all this. It’s that the Founding Fathers didn’t want citizens to have guns so they could randomly murder other innocent citizens. It’s time to stop this madness. In the final analysis, it makes no difference what the politics of a killer is, killing is wrong, and it needs to end. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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