The Washington Times Chimes In

I was surprised to read this:

In defense of gun rights, the National Rifle Association has jumped into the argument over Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black child who was killed in Florida.

Today, the NRA published a statement saying it will continue to support the “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws that it has helped push through the legislatures of several states.

I was surprised that NRA would have an opinion on the Zimmerman case, since they typically stay out of individual cases. After looking around on their web site a bit, and not seeing anything, I contacted NRA’s Public Affairs Director, and asked if they had released a statement. Apparently no. There has been no statement. The article continues:

The NRA ought to be careful about adopting Zimmerman as its poster child for responsible gun ownership and usage. Responsible gun owners know the limits of their right to carry a weapon and are well aware that they cannot use deadly force indiscriminately, without reasonable, justifiable cause. Sane and upstanding gun owners also know they shouldn’t take their guns to go pick a fight then expect to use a self-defense law as protection.

That has certainly not been the case for NRA, and I don’t think it’s been the case for the gun owners NRA represents either. To sum up the general consensus of the gun blogosphere community, as far as I’ve been able to see, it would be the description of Zimmerman as a racist cop-wannabe mall ninja who’s mall ninjary and cop-wannabeism got a 17 year old needlessly killed.

But being that we gun folks tend to come to our activism out of a desire to see our Bill of Rights protected, we tend to like our governments restrained, and look more favorably on due process, and abstract concepts like innocent until proven guilty. We look less favorably on mob justice, trial by media, and suppression of individual rights due to public outcry. In short, don’t mistake a respect for the rule-of-law, of restrained government, and due-process for support of Zimmerman. Those are two separate things. We believe everyone in this country is entitled to presumption of innocence, regardless of color or creed, or how heinous the accusation. These are bedrock principles of American law, and it’s been real disheartening for me to see how readily they are disrespected by an angry public.

I should note that in conclusion, I’d like to think better of the Washington Times than to think they’d publish something that makes up facts like NRA support for Zimmerman, out of whole cloth. I thought they had higher journalistic standards than that.

14 thoughts on “The Washington Times Chimes In”

  1. The Los Angeles Times editors muse today that the killing “might” have been encouraged by FL’s SYG law. And, then again, I’ll submit that Zimmerman “might have been” preoccupied and angry about the plight of polar bears…

    Fantasy is what you make it, and neither SYG or concealed carry are the problem here, IMO. If that is the position NRA will rationally take, not endorsing or condemning Zimmerman, it could be a helpfully rational commentary on the affair. I hope for that.

  2. Here’s a disclaimer from the linked page:

    This is the Communities at Individual contributors are responsible for their content, which is not edited by The Washington Times. Contact Us with questions or comments.

    Although you’d have to think, were someone from the NRA to contact them about this, they’d take some sort of action.

  3. James S. Robbins (Senior Editorial Writer for Foreign Affairs at the Washington Times) chimed in on my Google+ link to this blog post.

    “That appeared in Washington Times Communities which is a citizen journalism site. Note the disclaimer: “This is the Communities at Individual contributors are responsible for their content, which is not edited by The Washington Times.” Personally I have a problem with running anything under our name that does not go through our strict review process, but the paper apparently feels the disclaimer is enough.”

    1. Interesting that their employees don’t agree with this policy. I can understand not running it through the entire editing process, but one would think that if they are hosting content that is completely fabricated, they would want to put a stop to it.

  4. As a once frequent, now occasional, “citizen writer” with our local newspaper and others, I have consistently found that publications do a lousy job of editing (frequently slaughtering the authors’ meaning) when they don’t agree with what is being written, and a wonderful job of editing, when they do. I also know they are incredibly scared of libel/slander in their pages, even when it is clearly not their opinion being expressed.

    Which is to say, I take the WT’s disclaimer of responsibility with a grain of salt. They’ll let slide what they want to have said.

    1. Assuming this is only on their web site, and that they’ve satisfied all the DMCA’s requirements (which include registration with the Copyright Office and notice of whom to complain to), then they have absolute defense in the legal arena against libel and slander and pretty much everything else (copyright infringement, etc.).

  5. Well, she’s made a “correction”. The original paragraph now reads:

    Today, the NRA, through its Institute for Legislative Action, continue to support “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws that like those it has helped push through the legislatures of several states. Those laws protect people who commit a homicide while protecting themselves and their property.

    And an addendum at the end of the article says:

    CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated the NRA issued a statement in support of Stand Your Ground laws explicitly. It did not. Rather, the NRA’s legislative arm, Institute for Legislative Action, has continued to support gun rights legislation including stand your ground laws proposed in other states. Meanwhile, various gun rights organizations and supporters of the legislation and the NRA have referenced the Trayvon Martin case and have urged gun rights advocates to not let the Martin case slow down legislative advancements made over the years.

    I can excuse the confusion between the NRA and NRA-ILA, but that’s a pretty big leap from “issued a statement in support of Stand Your Ground laws explicitly” to “has continued to support gun rights legislation including stand your ground laws proposed in other states”.

    That, combined with her vague and hyperbolic allegation of Zimmerman’s “violent criminal past”, tells me this was nothing but a hit piece that was never intended to reflect reality.

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