Pittsburgh Gunman Feared Obama Gun Ban

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Guns and Ammo, Media, Video

Three police officers dead because of paranoia.

Here’s more…

A man opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call Saturday morning, killing three of them, a police official said.

Friends said 23 year-old Richard Poplawski feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns. [...]

One friend, Edward Perkovic, said Poplawski feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.”

Another longtime friend, Aaron Vire, said he feared that President Obama was going to take away his rights, though he said he “wasn’t violently against Obama.”

For now this is an isolated case, but following up on my post from yesterday, the right should try their best to back away from the more feverish, “revolution” rhetoric. Instead, try dealing with Obama’s actual policies, and avoid “reporting” on nightmare scenarios you think may happen.

For instance, take this agit prop from Sean Hannity last year…



Dark music. Slow motion video. Leading questions that have obvious answers.

Scare tactics like these may not seem like a big deal for you or I, but for those who genuinely trust Hannity…what do you think they’d believe after this? And let’s not pretend that guns sales didn’t spike after Obama won last year.

But, to be absolutely clear, this type of behavior doesn’t make the right-wing media responsible for the actions of people who go postal. But since when is it responsible behavior to create a climate of fear when there’s virtually no evidence that what they’re saying will happen?


This entry was posted on Sunday, April 5th, 2009 and is filed under Guns and Ammo, Media, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “Pittsburgh Gunman Feared Obama Gun Ban”

  1. Brian Says:

    Brilliant way to show that regular citizens can be trusted to responsibly handle automatic weapons, dude. Maybe the wrong people are paranoid…

  2. The Other Ed Says:

    This is not an isolated case, in fact it’s at least the 2nd multiple killing in the last 9 months by an unstable person pushed over the edge by right-wing rhetoric. Jim Adkisson in Knoxville TN late last summer went into a Unitarian Church to kill liberals and Democrats and succeeded in killing two and wounding seven.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoxville_Unitarian_Universalist_church_shooting

    His suicide note said that he wanted to kill Obama and “…the 100 people cited in (Fox News commenter Bernard) Goldberg’s book…” but he knew he couldn’t get to them so any liberal would do.

    Read his suicide note (he failed at the suicide and was captured) at the Knoxville News. It reads like the topics discussed on a typical Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity show:

    http://web.knoxnews.com/pdf/021009church-manifesto.pdf

  3. Doug Mataconis Says:

    Justin,

    I’m no Hannity fan but it’s pretty unfair to tag him (or anyone else who takes the Second Amendment seriously) because of some nut job in Pittsburgh.

  4. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    This guy was an Alex Jones loving, neo-nazi 9/11 conspiracy theorist. I bet he hated George Bush more than Obama.

  5. Chris Says:

    there’s a big debate on various sites whether this guy represents the typical NRA gun owner. I think it’s a yes and a no, I think they agree with pretty much everything he apparently believed, but most people aren’t willing to murder police for no reason.

    Does Faux’s hysteria promoting shows make people go crazy and murder? No, but they probably make crazy people hysterical and murder.

  6. Justin Gardner Says:

    Doug, I realize you think it’s unfair and I respect that. But commentators better wise up and realize that their tone and rhetoric contributes to the echo chamber of paranoia that fuel these types of actions. And, to that point, I’m saying it’s irresponsible of them to try and create fear, which is exactly what that Hannity piece was doing.

    Jimmy, you could be right. Alex Jones films are pathetic, as is most of the work of the truly unhinged fringe. But, again, when the Hannitys of the world start creating pieces that mirror the propaganda that Jones puts out there, a certain amount of legitimacy around the paranoia starts to foment. And I don’t like that trajectory at all. So the right wing commentary class needs to start wising up, stop talking up “revolution” in the winkwinknudgenudge code and come up with some ideas that can move this country forward.

  7. TerenceC Says:

    Does Sean Hannity actually ever not ask leading questiona? He’s a shill who is paid lots and lots of money to say whatever he is told. The right is politically irrelevant now and they are simply grasping at straws in an attempt to maintain whatever base is still there – and their media bretheren are trying to help. The gun issue, immigration, job loss, religion, and maybe even race are talked about with great frequency – but none of the actual immediate issues (war, poverty, inequitable tax, weak education, etc..). The GGG meme is all they got. Whether or not it is contributing to the increase in militant and revolutionary talk is beside the point. The real point is what else do they have to talk about since they have been completely discredited on every other issue. Everything is scarey to talk about it seems – but which issues raise the most emotion?

  8. ExiledIndependent Says:

    We need some sort of government standard to ensure that the words we use won’t upset people. In fact, we should probably adjust the First Amendment to make it much less dangerous. Free speech is a luxury we can’t afford, apparently.

    Seriously, guys? Building a post hoc fallacy like this is distasteful and intellectually dishonest in the extreme. But hey, it gives you one more chance to push the “conservative talk radio is bad” meme, so what should I expect?

  9. Justin Gardner Says:

    What’s distasteful and intellectually dishonest is trying to characterize my call for responsible discourse as some type of subversive attack on free speech. The Hannity of the worlds can say what they please, but they should also acknowledge that it stokes the fires of paranoia. That’s my point and I’ll continue to make it because I see a very clear causal relationship between those two things.

    And, by the way, I think most talk radio is bad. I don’t like the right wing or the left wing…and I’ve said as much.

  10. Chris Says:

    ^ well that and the numerous shills and snake oil salesmen on fox passing themselves off as journalists… And it’s not only fox, but they just have a higher percentage.

  11. Jim Says:

    I couldn’t agree more that network “news” and even local affiliates trump up issues dramatically. And, when possible these “news” personalities should be held accountable. But it is the corporate dollar seekers managing these networks who should really be held accountable. It’s not about free speech; it’s about ratings and earnings. Unfortunately, what the most recent events have proven, Pittsburgh tragedy inclusive, is that those watching and learning from these influential network actors (not journalists) are weak in mind and easily manipulated into believing these conspirencies. Those who act and survive such as the shooter in Pittsburgh must be held responsible to the extent of the law and not be permited to use insanity as a result of the influence from the media. True Americans, Liberals or Right Wingers, believe and care to preserve the Constitution to protect our citizens. What we have seen in the past 20 years is how to use the Constitution for individuals or interest groups (i.e network actors and execs) to profit at the expense of our citizens.

  12. Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Cop Killers And Political Opportunism Says:

    [...] the normally reasonable Justin Gardner seemed to jump to some rather extreme conclusions: Scare tactics like these may not seem like a big deal for you or I, but for those who genuinely [...]

  13. kranky kritter Says:

    President Obama did not make this guy deranged. Partisan conservative rhetoric did not make this guy deeply disturbed either.

    The fact that both sides of the partisan divide in politics will use such incidents to try to “prove” their point of view demonstrates just how few folks have anything resembling a decent understanding of the pathologies of the folks who live in the borders and margins and shadows of our culture. And that’s sad.

    Disturbed alienated angry people are attracted to ideologies that provide them with a convenient external group or figure to blame.Becuae hey, nothing wrong with them, it’s everybody else that has the problem.

    And while the interaction of fringe groups with folks on the verge of psychosis is not good, it’s a bit like blaming the sh!t for the fly. Take away the sh!t, the fly will find another pile or a rotting carcass or something else.

    Here’s the thing. Folks who do stuff like this virtually always have some history of problems, have experienced triggers that make it worse (loss of job, abandonment by one of the few folks who connected with them regularly, and so on), and a decline that has probably been noticed by whoever was interacting with this person over the recent weeks and months. If anyone even was, instead of walking away out of necessity, thereby allowing the psychosis to ferment in the new deeper, damper dark.

    And supposing someone heroically decides to get involved, beyond reason. How can someone even help, when services usually only get triggered AFTER a very serious episode. What are you going to do, let some psycho sleep on the couch and try to counsel him?

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