‘Put your gun away …’

“Put your gun away; for all who take the gun will perish by the gun.” — Matthew 26:52

We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.

The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence.  We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.

“For those inclined toward prayer, we ask that you pray for the security guard and for all the others who were targeted and are now undoubtedly shaken up by today’s events. For those not inclined toward prayer, we ask that you keep them in your thoughts.”

A few hours ago, a man walked into the Family Research Council’s headquarters in DC, where he shot and wounded a security guard before guards and bystanders subdued him. This should go without saying, but that was a despicable, cowardly, immoral thing to do. There is categorically no place for this kind of violence.

… the Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t simply lob the label “hate group” at the FRC and let people react as they may. It carefully and soberly spelled out its case: the FRC doesn’t just criticize gays and lesbians, it speaks of them in totalizing and demonizing ways. And it relies on junk science to do this. According to the SPLC, this constitutes a form of hate.

In any case, violence is certainly one form hate can take. But I’m not convinced the solution is to refrain from applying the word “hate” to other, lesser forms. Better to use the word with care, be clear about what we do and don’t mean, and commit ourselves to Martin Luther King Jr.’s conviction: “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“Several anti-gay groups and their representatives wasted no time in actually blaming the LGBT community and/or liberals and progressives for this morning’s shooting at the Family Research Council‘s (FRC) Washington, D.C. headquarters, during which a security guard was shot in the arm. Others merely used the event as an opportunity to position themselves and the anti-gay lobby as victims …”

All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

… Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.

“Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crime.”

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“Well, I like the American culture, such as it is, but let’s get rid of the [frakking] guns.”

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  • EnopoletusHarding

    What is it with this series of notable U.S. shootings in the past few weeks?

  • AnonymousSam

    How wrong of me is it that the first thing I think about, contemplating this, is to want to do research into the shooter’s background to determine that no large sums of money were deposited into his bank account on behalf of the FRC just prior to this shooting?

    That’s callous toward the security guard who was injured, I realize, but something about this smells like all sorts of wrong and I can’t help but feel suspicious. Shootings aren’t usually this neat. One injury, and nowhere near life-threatening at that?

    I’ll reserve judgment until the police have looked into the shooter’s motivations. Until then, I’m not taking bets on how long it took the FRC to condemn all the nasty homosexuals who helped make this possible. I’m sure they were ready with new pamphlets to distribute later that afternoon.

  • Damanoid

    “We in the anti-gay movement are outraged at this attack!   What is this world coming to when crazed terrorists can freely menace innocent bigots?  We demand more and better  gun contro– gun cont– gack–”  (COLLECTIVE SEIZURE)

  • Wingedwyrm

    The very day of the Columbine shooting, people went online to claim that the shooters shot fellow students because they (the shooters) were atheists and the shooting was caused by their atheism.

    Truthiness wins out over investigation.

  • ako

    Actually, shootings with one injury that’s nowhere near life-threatening are fairly common, they’re just not usually news. Or they’re only local news, or they’re briefly famous but quickly forgotten. It’s certainly not implausible for a shooter to attack a building and not kill anyone, and dreaming up conspiracy theories about the FRC secretly plotting the shooting because nobody died sounds a lot like the whole “preferring monsters” problem that Fred has repeatedly discussed.

    I don’t like the FRC, and I find it profoundly uncomfortable to try to stay compassionate about an organization that’s trying to pass discriminatory laws against me and several of my friends and family, but they’re human beings and it’s possible for them to be innocent victims in certain situations.

    I think that what happened was terrible and unjustifiable, and I hope the guard makes a swift and full recovery.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m sure there are plenty of people who’ve thought about doing this (*Raises hand*) and the FRC fully invites it to happen with their history as a hate group, it just seems odd to have been stopped at the door so neatly.

    Either way though, you’re right — whether it was staged or a genuine incident, it’s still a terrible incident. Gun-related violence does our culture no favors at all and violence against a hate group only makes said group feel fully justified. Even if it did turn out to be prearranged, it’s not like physical suffering in some way repays the guard for having a part in it, so he deserves swift healing and recovery regardless.

    I guess it just doesn’t matter one way or the other. It shouldn’t have happened.

  • Absolutely.  The solution to hate isn’t guns.  It’s terrible that a hate group can just sit there and actively brew hateful policies and reactions to good human beings, but shooting them won’t solve the problem.

  • Emcee, cubed

    FRC has already issued a statement blaming SPLC for the shooting because they labeled FRC as a hate-group. Of course, SPLC labels a whole lot of groups hate-groups who haven’t shootings, so I doubt they’ll convince anyone that isn’t already on their side of this, but yeah, that’s where they went.

    EDITED TO ADD: It looks like it wasn’t an actual statement, just that they made statements that implied SPLC was to blame. Here’s the article. http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2012/August/Did-Hate-Group-Label-Stir-FRC-Shooting/

  • Albanaeon

    This is honestly scary.  Are we really closing in on Culture Wars spilling into real War?  Heaven knows we have enough armament to pull off a pretty big one and violent rhetoric has become commonplace.  Hell, actual violence (see bombing abortion clinics) is become distressingly not uncommon.

    How far are we from someone taking “let’s take back govmint” not as Vote Republican and doing something drastic or someone deciding to get the other side first and it simply spiraling out of control.  I am sure our elites apologies with qualifications will go a long way then…

  • I want the people who make up the FRC to suffer.  

    I want them to suffer the indignity of living in a world which has chosen to brand them hateful willful ignoramuses.  I want them to suffer the knowledge that their own grandchildren reject them, only calling them once a year as some token gesture of family, so tired are they of the old bigoted grandparent’s increasingly delusional rants.  I want every year they spent peddling hate and fear to be repaid upon them in a year in which their voices are not heard, their values rejected, and their message irrelevant.  I want them to die in frustration and loneliness, their life’s mission unfulfilled, and no one by them on their death bed in the last hours of their natural life.  

    If they are simply shot dead, they will not live to reap the suffering they have sown.  

    Here is wishing the security guard a swift recovery, and hopefully a serious consideration in a change of employment.  

  • aunursa

    When a right-winger shoots a left-winger, the right wing is at fault. And when a left-winger shoots a right-winger, the right wing is also at fault

  • “When a right-winger shoots a left-winger, it’s not the time to argue or politicize it. And when a left-winger shoots a right-winger, it’s not the time- oh who am I kidding, time to blame the left-wing.”

    Fixed that for you. Citations provided in the original post.

  • JP

    I just never realized that the Bible mentioned the word “gun,” and I am wondering how that is historically possible. Is it perhaps a modern translation of a word that might be more accurately rendered as “weapon”? Bible scholars? 

  •  I’m not sure if they had anything like a handgun back then. I think that line is just a modernized version of the original line, which had “sword” in place of “gun”. Fred might have been using “gun” because it brings the point closer to home whereas “sword” might sound weird in our society since swords aren’t really associated with modern warfare, crime, terrorism the way guns are.

  • Sorbus

    It was originally “sword”, apparently.

  • JP

    Thanks!  I am always curious about anachronisms.
    Guns started in the 12-13th centuries, to my best knowledge.

  • Worthless Beast

    “Gun” doesn’t take away the meaning.  A gun was used in this incident and guns, in general, are the weapons we currently associate with power and instant death. 

    In modern times, we associate swords with history and with magical rpg games.

  • SlugabedWitch61
  • glendanowakowsk

    This song came immediately to my mind when reading the title.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Well done.

    Where’s the left wing/right wing aspect, though? I haven’t seen any mention of economics at all.

  • Lori

    Is there any issue with any political aspect where you will not deploy false equivalence as your first, go-to response? Anything at all? Aren’t you even the tiniest bit ashamed of yourself?

  • I’m not anti-violence.

    I am, however, anti-violence that does no good whatsoever. But we don’t yet know why this shooting happened. Maybe the shooter wanted to shoot this particular security guard for some reason. Maybe not. Either way, no good will come of it. 

  • Are we really closing in on Culture Wars spilling into real War?

    Hate crimes against non-straight non-cis people and people who are perceived to be non-straight and non-cis. Hate crimes against non-white people, including a little girl who was shot for not being white. At least 1/3 of women being raped, and more being sexually assaulted. Keeping birth control away from women, thereby keeping control of our bodies away from women. Taxing the poor to give to the rich.

    I’d say there’s already a war going on. The question is how best to fight it. I think we can still fight it peacefully.

  • lovecomesfromlife

    I was going to hit “Like” because I thought your comment was painfully true, but of course, I don’t like it at all!  We need a “Preach it Sister” or “Amen” button for backing up a comment without being like, 1/3 of all women raped! :) :).  

  • olsonam

    I’m surprised the groups that blame the LGBT community as a whole don’t realize the irony, considering the LGBT groups are saying the same thing as anti-legal-abortion groups when there is violence against legal abortion providers.

    And last week I did remark to someone how each side was playing a one-ups-manship.  I hope it ends before there is any greater violence.  Like possibly loving all LGBT members as Jesus would, maybe?

  • Joshua

    Fred is clearly modernising language to keep it relevant to the current situation he is writing about.

    Fred often does this for rhetorical effect. Here, he has a link to an actual translation to prevent this kind of misunderstanding.

  • Dan Audy

    Except there is a real difference between what GLAAD stated and the statements by ‘pro-life’ groups following the assassinations of doctors that perform abortions or clinic bombings.  In virtually every ‘pro-life’ statement there is a comment about how horrible a person they were or a dig that references their belief that abortion is murder whereas the GLAAD and SPLC statements were a straightforward denouncement of violence without any justification or swipes at the FRC.  

    Calling the FRC a hate group (with loads of quotes and proof) is not the same as the FRC calling gays ‘defective’ or advocating for their execution in Uganda.  Yet somehow despite the fact that the FRC is a hate group both GLAAD and SPLC managed not to make any comment suggesting that the guard deserved it for working at a horrible place or that the only unfortunate part is that he didn’t get the chance to repent his evil actions.

    We are stunned at today’s news. As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man who we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means. We strongly condemn the actions taken today by this vigilante killer and we pray for the Tiller family and for the nation that we might once again be a nation that values all human life, both born and unborn.  
    -Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council

    George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder. Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.
    -Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue

  • Bad faith arguments from aunursa? I’m shocked! Linking to an op-ed piece of pure speculation from a right-wing publication? Why wouldn’t I find that convincing. 

    I’m genuinely impressed at how much wrongness is packed into two sentences. Bravo on increasing the stupid-density!

    “When a right-winger shoots a left-winger…”
    To an American Conservative, everything is about politics, and it’s always about the hyper-polarized view of politics they have. Everyone must be on one side or the other; movies, TV, books, and every other kind of media or entertainment is either “liberal” or “conservative”. Reality is rarely so accommodating or simple. 

    The shooter in Colorado? Mentally ill perhaps, but not automatically a ‘right-winger’. Unless Anursa wants to claim him for his side…

    The shooter at the Sikh temple? Now he was a racist with a history of supporting conservative politics, so yes, he’s a right-winger.

    Anders Brevik? An admitted conservative with an explicit love for American cultural conservatives. Yeah, he’s a right-winger.

    Jared Loughner? Mentally ill, and misogynistic, but not necessarily conservative. While there are feminist conservatives, most feminism is decidedly not right-wing, and he shot a Democratic senator, so I guess if I had no choice, I’d put him on the right… but that’s more of an indictment against these simplistic characterizations. 

    What about the victims?

    The folks who were shot at the Sikh temple? Not left-wingers.Movie-goers in Colorado? Not left-wingers either.
    The teenagers shot by Brevik? Teenagers! Not “left” or “right”, but teenagers!

    …the right wing is at fault. 

    When a mass shooting occurs using weapons that were previously illegal, but became legal because of actions of the right-wing, yes, it’s not unfair to say “if the Republicans hadn’t blocked renewing the Assault Weapons ban, that shooter wouldn’t have been able to buy and use a 100-round clip against a crowded movie theater!” 

    When legal tools to reduce gun violence are vigorously and repeatedly defeated through procedural maneuvers such as attempting to filibusterer every bill and requiring not a simple majority but a super-majority to pass anything, and the party engaging in wholesale obstructionism is consistently the right-wing, yes, some fault lies with them. 

    And that’s to say nothing of the constant use of violent imagery, eliminationist rhetoric , and consistent threatening messages, from cross-hairs on maps to “don’t retreat, reload” to talking about ‘watering the tree of liberty’. Feel free to provide examples of anyone on the “left-wing” saying anything even half as menacing as “will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

    Now, let’s take on the next part of this dwarf-star of stupid dishonest:

    How is the shooter a “left-winger”? 
    Because he opposes the FRC? I’m pretty sure the Log Cabin Republicans object to the lies and hatred and they’re not “left-wing”.
    Dick Cheney has a gay daughter, also a Republican, who does not agree with the FRC’s policies. She’s now a left-winger?

    In fact, let’s stop begging the question here. This person was stopped by a security guard before going into the building. We have no evidence at this time that the shooter was politically motivated versus, say, seeking revenge on an estranged wife or girlfriend, or was mentally unbalanced. 

    But even if any of the above scenarios are true, yes, the right-wing still gets some fault. They steadfastly resist any and all gun-control laws for any reason. They glorify and encourage violent imagery while mocking peaceful, democratic (small ‘d’) solutions like community organizing and peaceful protest. They have created a culture where gun violence is inevitable and unavoidable, with no regulation or limitation, and one which tries to vilify peaceful protesters like the Occupy movement while glorifying armed vigilantes roaming along the border like the Minutemen. 

  • Dan Audy

    To be fair Chris, there is some very strong evidence that Corkins was a gay rights supporter (which in the US is pretty exclusive to the left) and that the shooting was politically motivated.  Corkins volunteered for the DC Center for the LGBT community and is purported to have said something to the effect of “This isn’t personal, this is about FRC’s policies” before shooting the guard.  On the other hand it does also suggest that the shooting may have been deliberately non-fatal particularly coming from a marine family.

  • sptrashcan

    “On the other hand it does also suggest that the shooting may have been
    deliberately non-fatal particularly coming from a marine family.”

     Okay, you need to stop now. If there’s one thing that everyone – particularly anyone with a military background – should know about firearms, it’s that when you point them at a person and pull the trigger, you are accepting an excellent chance that they will die. There is no such thing as shooting to wound. Shots to limbs can hit arteries and shatter bones. These wounds can kill. Shots to the center of mass will cause shock, may hit major organs, may cause peritonitis. These wounds can kill. When you hit someone with a bullet, you can kill them. If you point a gun at someone and pull the trigger, that is at best willfully disregarding the risk of death. At the very, very, very least, this man didn’t care enough whether his victim would live or die to choose not to put him at serious risk of death. It seems likely he did so for political reasons. That is never okay, and you need to stop looking for ways to make it more okay. This man is a terrorist. Even people whose politics you can agree with can be terrorists. And even then, *especially* then, you must name them as such.

    This isn’t about right wing conspiracies. This isn’t about gun control. This is a man shooting a man over politics, and this is what democracy cannot survive.

    (I am politically liberal. I am not concern trolling. I am very, very serious.)

  • Tom

     I know, logically, that this comment is insensitive and probably unhelpful…

    But my first reaction was ‘Boo fucking hoo’

    People are shot all the time (there’s probably been someone shot and killed while you are reading this) and we never even hear about it, let alone mourn them.  That isn’t to say I don’t wish the guard a fast recovery or that I in any way condone the actions; but I’m afraid I can’t join in the whole public displays of solidarity to show that we are such good people that we love our enemies, when I don’t do so every time anyone is injured ever.

    Most of all I’m furious at the stupidity of the guy – we’ll be hearing about this one from the haters for years… now they can genuinely claim to be victims (for once)

  • Speaking as a bisexual man who’s very happy he is outside the influence of the FRC (for now), I have only three things to say:
    1) My thoughts go with the security guard, and I hope he’ll recover swiftly
    2) I hope the shooter will have a change off heart, accept treatment (for the whole “it’s-okay-to-use-lethal-force-thing) and return to society a better man  (Not likely, given what little I know of the American justice system)
    3) I think there’s a lot of unwarrented hostility towards aunursa here, so…*Hugs aunursa* I may disagree with him/her, including with that statement, but this is getting a bit out of hand, IMO.

  • Lori

    This isn’t about right wing conspiracies. This isn’t about gun control.
    This is a man shooting a man over politics, and this is what democracy
    cannot survive. 


    This kind of violence is wrong, both because of the direct harm it does to the people involved and because of the indirect harm it does to our ability to sustain a working democracy. This is not how we’re supposed to express differences of opinion. It’s not OK to murder abortion doctors because you don’t think abortion should be legal. It’s not OK to shoot up FRC headquarters because they advocate anti-gay policies. The extent to which I share or oppose the underlying policy concerns of the shooters doesn’t change that in any way.

  • Daughter

     The teenagers shot by Andrew Brevik were left-wing. They were part of the Labour party’s youth league.

  • Lori


    3) I think there’s a lot of unwarrented hostility towards aunursa here,
    so…*Hugs aunursa* I may disagree with him/her, including with that
    statement, but this is getting a bit out of hand, IMO.  

    Head on over to the hermeneutic thread. There you will see that aunursa once again made the equivalency argument without contributing anything else to the discussion. Then consider the possibility that folks who are hostile to aunursa’s schtick have seen it enough times before to have a reason to be a bit fed up.

  • The teenagers shot by Andrew Brevik were left-wing. They were part of the Labour party’s youth league.

    They were teenagers! Not old enough to vote, not wage-earners or wealthy making donations, not elected officials or party members, but teenagers! 

    They were at a camp! Not lobbying at the capital or out gathering signatures or soliciting donations, but at summer camp! 

    Classifying minors at summer camp as “left-wing” serves no good purpose at all except to advance a bad faith argument. 

  • I may disagree with him/her, including with that
    statement, but this is getting a bit out of hand, IMO.

    You may or you do?

    I ask because you seem ready to come to aunursa’s defense — completely ignoring that aunursa’s actions are part of a long-standing pattern which has understandably worn down the patience of some (many) other commenters over a long period of time — but are willing to come right out and make a definitive statement as to whether you agree or disagree with aunursa.

  • Lori

    They were at a camp! Not lobbying at the capital or out gathering signatures or soliciting donations, but at summer camp!    

    The fact that they were too young to vote doesn’t mean that they weren’t politically active. That summer camp was run Labor to help young people acquire the skills they would need to become leaders in the future. That’s why those kids were there instead of at some other summer camp. The camp was targeted specifically in an attempt to destroy the future of the Labor party.

    Saying that they didn’t deserve to be killed doesn’t require denying the reality of their lives and why they were targeted. Personally, I find that disrespectful. You’re dismissing what was obviously important to them based on nothing but their age. When I was a teenager I would have been very angry at you for that.

  • Daughter

    I see your point, and under no circumstances should they have been victims in a cultural or political war. I was just pointing out that they were deliberately targeted by Brevik because of who they were–they weren’t a random group of teenagers he fired upon. That says nothing negative about the young people, but about him.

  • Saying that they didn’t deserve to be killed doesn’t require denying the reality of their lives and why they were targeted.

    No, but saying they were “left wing” does mean accepting their killer’s framing of events. Which I do not.

    You’re dismissing what was obviously important to them based on nothing but their age. When I was a teenager I would have been very angry at you for that.

    Actually, I’m dismissing it based on their capacity to act, their means, and their overall influence, all of which are related to their age to one degree or another. When I was a teenager, I was angry at a lot of people who  were dismissive of me because of my youth. My being angry did not actually make me right or them wrong. What I said might be disrespectful in your view, but is it misleading or incorrect? 

  • Daughter

    I don’t understand, Chris. Is left-wing an insult? If someone shoots me because I’m a liberal, and it’s reported that that’s why the person shot me, does that make the use of the term liberal to describe me part of the shooter’s framing of events?

  • Daughter

    Or are you saying that because the teens were too young to be significant political players yet, they shouldn’t be identified by any political labels at all? 

  • Aunursa has made many, many arguments about how bad the ACA is. The ACA is going to allow me to get the surgery I need to no longer be in horrible pain every second of my life. Aunursa has argued with me about how bad the ACA is, knowing that it will allow me to get the surgery that will allow me to no longer be in horrible pain every second of my life. 

    And that’s the tip of the iceberg. You might want to re-think the idea that people who call aunursa out are big meanies. And lurk more.

  • How is this not at least partly about gun control?

    When are we allowed to talk about gun control, if we’re not allowed to talk about it after a shooting? This country being what it is, there are shootings all the bloody time. And we’re not supposed to talk about the guns?

  • Hth

     It really is both misleading and incorrect.  These kids might not have been powerful people, but that doesn’t make them nonentities.  I had politics when I was a teenager; maybe my reasoning is more sophisticated now, but my values haven’t ultimately changed all that much in the last 20 years.

    “Capacity to act, means, and overall influence” are ways of defining who has power, not who has a political stance.  It’s misleading, incorrect, and *offensive* to  suggest that without the former, you ipso facto lack the latter.

  • I do, then. This is not an attempt at a defense at the policies, merely an observation from my side of a lot of name-dropping, and worries that it might create a hostile atmosphere. I admit that I do not read every single comment here, and therefore may lack vital context. If you think I do, then honestly, just dismiss my comment as that of an ignorant twit :/ (to clarify, since I know I suck at getting my point across sometimes, both verbally and not: Ignore me if you feel I’m out of my depth. I am just trying to help :/)

  • I don’t think you’re a “meanie”, or anything of the sort. I am fully aware that without ACA, many people will be without something I consider so natural in a society as air, and have taken for granted all my life. I direct to my comment just above, specifically the ending. I was just trying to help :/

  • Tricksterson

    It’s what I’ve been saying right at this moment  all along, Jesus was a Time Lord.

  • Tricksterson

    Frankly I don’t care if they were members of Comintern or the Hitler Youth (which would be pretty difficult in either case without a time machine) they still wouldn’t have deserved to be shot.  In those cases (not in the actual case) they might have been stupid and wrongheaded but if that was a killing offense we would have a population implosion.