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Daniel Ruth

Pundits fuel crackpots with ammo

In the past 30 days, five law enforcement officers have died in a hail of leaden illiteracy.

Last Saturday, two Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies, Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York, were gunned down by Joshua Cartwright — a violent oaf who feared Barack Obama was conspiring against him — after he attacked his wife when he couldn't find a tube of Clearasil.

When the deputies arrived on the scene, they were shot by Cartwight, who was subsequently killed by other officers, thus ending an obsession over his complexion.

Last month, investigators say, three Pittsburgh police officers were mowed down in a burst of gunfire by Richard Poplawski, who also bought in to the urban myth that Obama wanted to take away his arsenal of weapons — which in retrospect would have been a terrific idea.

So, what should we call all this carnage — five dead law enforcement officers, all victims of gullible half-wits who have been duped into believing the Obama administration wants to abscond with their precious guns? Death by demagoguery?

No doubt if you surf the Internet or tune into the drive-by bloviators populating the Phooey News Network, such as Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, you've heard the mantra that Obama spends every waking hour plotting to reduce the Second Amendment to the point where U.S. citizens couldn't own a copy of Dirty Harry.

And as a consequence of these foaming-at-the-mouth wimperings, a lot of people have come to actually believe Obama could disarm tens of millions of American gun owners, which would be about as easy as outlawing the consumption of Mountain Dew.

What Obama has called for are more stringent gun registration guidelines, closing the gun show loophole, as well as the renewal of the ban on assault weapons, which is supported by law enforcement (and probably even more so over the past month, considering the killings of the five officers) but was allowed to lapse during the George W. Bush junta years.

Ah yes, the third rail of American political life — advocating common sense.

If ever there was a strong case to be made for tightening our gun laws, and especially the assault weapons ban, it would be the audiences of the Hannitys and the Becks, who claimed among their fans the likes of Poplawski.

Both Poplawski and Cartwright were armed to the teeth with a wide variety of guns, knives and ammunition — even though they were, to put this in layman's terms, loopier than Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

Both men had been stockpiling their weapons in the unfounded belief that any day now Obama was going to come knocking on their doors with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in tow to haul away their cache of firepower. And, by the way, the problem with this is …?

The National Rifle Association and their manservants Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck love to embrace the argument, while pimping themselves as strong advocates of "law and order," that law-abiding citizens should be able to protect their life and property.

Well, tell that to the families of Pittsburgh officers Eric Kelly, Paul Sciullo and Stephen Mayhle, or to the loved ones of Okaloosa sheriff's Deputies Burt Lopez and Warren York, who were all killed by perfectly "law-abiding" citizens right up to the point where these two very creepy chaps pulled the trigger because they had bought into an addled right-wing fearmongering conspiracy.

Adding to the insanity, for his part, the certifiably paranoid Poplawski acquired many of his weapons by trading online — presumably with other like-minded black helicopter lunatic fringe fellow travelers. With the exception of the caterwauling neocon chattering class, does this make any iota of sense to anyone with a functioning brain stem?

It is certainly unsettling to ponder that such deeply disturbed folks like Poplawski and Cartwright were able to amass so much weaponry so easily in the midst of such a spiraling mental health death throe. It is even more terrifying to realize they were hardly alone in their lemming-esque belief the government is plotting against them.

Are there criminals afoot with guns? Sure. Is that a good thing? Duh.

But it is equally true the streets are also teaming with people who are crazier than Freddy Krueger equipped with their Rambo starter kits, laboring under the twisted notion according to the gospel of Glenn Beck, the Torquemada of the gun lobby, that the government is out to get them.

It's unnerving enough to know these people have guns. It's even scarier to realize they are armed with an even scarier weapon: radios.

Pundits fuel crackpots with ammo 04/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 30, 2009 6:59pm]
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