The New York Daily News has found the villain in Tuesday's fatal shooting in an Oregon high school and it is not the 15-year-old freshman who killed a student and wounded a teacher before shooting himself to death in a bathroom stall.
The villain targeted by the Daily News in Jared Padgett's shooting spree is Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association. The cover page of Thursday's edition of the New York tabloid featured a picture of LaPierre with the image of the NRA seal superimposed as tape over his mouth. Below, in large white letters, were the words: 'SILENT SLUG."
'After more deaths, still no comment from NRA's monstrous mouthpiece," read the caption next to the photo. Inside the paper laid out its indictment of the "monstrous mouthpiece" for his silence over the killing:
The killer carried the murder weapon in a guitar case and used it to score a tragic and all too familiar tune in yet another American school — but there's been nary a peep from the National Rifle Association.
It's like Wayne LaPierre, the NRA mouthpiece, has a sudden case of lockjaw.
Jared Padgett, the News noted, came to Reynolds High School in Troutdale that day "armed with an A-15 rifle. Never mind that Adam Lanza used the same type of rifle in December 2012 to slaughter 20 first graders and six staffers in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn." Even a gun, apparently, can be found guilty by association. Would the student be any less dead or the teacher unwounded if the miscreant had used a different make and model of rifle? Padgett, like Lanza, "got his rifle from 'the family home,'" the paper laments — as if the incident would have been less horrible if he had stolen the weapon, or somehow managed to buy it, despite an Oregon law forbidding the sale of firearms to a minor.
The killer, we are told, "was obsessed with guns and violence and TV shows such as Ultimate Weapons. The show appears on the American Heroes Network, an affiliate of Discovery Communications, Inc, not the National Rifle Association. No, the "crime" with which the paper charges LaPierre and the NRA might be called a conspiracy of silence.
"LaPierre stayed silent even though this was the 74th school shooting in the U.S. since the Newtown massacre," reported the New York Daily News. That statistic has been effectively disputed, as we shall see in a moment. But the NRA further incurred the wrath of the Daily News by repeatedly refusing its requests for comment. The "gun group" is damned by the paper when it speaks and damned for its silence when it doesn't. The NRA tweeted out a link to a post in National Review "that appeared to sum up their arrogant stance," the Daily News said. The organization said it won't change its policy on gun control (They're "agin' it"), "despite all of the chatter from the White House and beyond."
That shouldn't be too hard to understand. All the documented incidents of guns being used defensively to prevent or stop killings, in schools and elsewhere, obviously hasn't changed the "arrogant stance" of the Daily News in favor of gun control. Why should a reckless and deadly act by an obviously deranged juvenile cause the NRA or other gun-rights advocates to drop their opposition to measures that would prevent responsible gun owners from having access to their rifles or handguns? The paper's anti-gun bias is clear enough in what it had to say about the young killer's family.
While it was not known if the Padgett family belonged to the NRA, they were all hunters, classmate Mackenzie Arellano told the Daily News.
"He loved guns," said Arellano, 15. "He loved to go hunting with his parents. I always assumed he was just hunting animals. Not half of the student body.
Well, there you have it. If a youngster has an interest guns, loves to go hunting, and has parents who might belong to the NRA, he's liable to go off the deep end — another Adam Lanza in the making.
In Oregon, state Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), described by the Oregonian as "the Legislature's most vocal advocate for stricter gun laws," called for legislation that would make parents criminally responsible for deaths caused by a minor who uses a gun found in the home.
"Obviously, [the Padgett] family lost a child, too, but that doesn't change the fact that another child lost his life and another family is having to go through the worst possible thing a person can go through because a gun owner somewhere else didn't adequately secure his guns," Burdick said. "If those guns hadn't been in those [sic] child's hands, Emilio Hoffman would still be alive."
A bill introduced by Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) in 2013 would have imposed a $6,250 fine or a year in prison or both for allowing a minor access to a firearm. It would also have banned the guilty party from owning a gun for five years.
"I think it would help to have that [law] there so people know, 'Oops, I'd better be extra careful or I will perhaps lose my gun rights,'" Burdick said. Troutdale police said Padgett removed the family's rifle from its secured storage place, the Oregonian reported. But Burdick insisted no matter how the youth got the gun, the parents are guilty.
"If a kid gets a hold of guns and takes them to school, those guns weren't secured," Burdick said. "Maybe they were thought to be secured or hoped to be secured, but they were not secured." So if Padgett had somehow managed to get the rifle out of a locked, underground steel vault, the weapon still would not have been "secured" sufficiently to satisfy Sen. Burdick.
As for the claim that the Oregon case is the 74th school shooting since the December 2012 Newtown massacre, that number has been circulated by Everytown for Gun Safety, one of a number of anti-gun groups backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It appears to be inflated by an overly broad definition of school shooting. Dana Tims of the Oregonian reported that Everytown's list included a 38-year-old homicide victim, with no known links to the school, found by police in a high school parking lot at 2 a.m. Another involved a Morehouse College student in Atlanta found shot to death near, but not on, the college campus. CNN, defining a school shooting as someone "actively shooting inside a school" counted 15 of the incidents cited by Everytown as genuine school shootings.
The higher number is, of course, useful in leading people to believe that there are school shootings in the United States at the rate of nearly one a week. That, in turn, might panic Americans, especially parents of schoolchildren, to compromise or surrender the Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms. In the service of that and other goals, there remain what the British statesman Benjamin Disraeli called in the 19th century, "lies, damned lies and statistics."