Editors’ Blog

Since Sandy Hook Prime Badge

About a decade ago, more or less, I was talking to a quite right wing and very prominent conservative who I sometimes chat with. I think this was around the time of the Newtown shooting. But perhaps it was in the aftermath of some other massacre. Painful as it is to say, the massacre aftermaths kind of run together. In any case, if it wasn’t Newtown it was generally in that time frame. He told me that while he was politically or publicly pro-gun in fact he hated guns. Didn’t want them in his house. Didn’t want them near his kids. It was an interesting instance of how our public or political selves may be out of sync with our experience of the world.

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Readers on Guns #3 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader MH

I think you are right about public opinion and guns but for the wrong reason.  
It’s not that half of Americans are pro-assault rifles or whatever. It’s that half the country — namely Republicans — is willing to turn a blind eye to the carnage. Similarly it’s not that half of Americans are anti-free and fair elections. It’s just that half the country — namely Republicans — is willing to turn a blind eye to the obvious lies of their leaders.

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Readers on Guns #2 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader DS …

I want to share a story with you and then get to a specific point. When I was 18 or 19, a guy at the factory where I worked sold me a semi-automatic AK-47. Not an actual AK but whatever the knock-off brand was at the time. I thought it would be cool to have such a cool and powerful weapon.

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Readers on Guns #1 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader TK

Thanks for the articles you’ve written on guns. As usual it’s very interesting and thought-provoking.

I must admit I’m confused about the contentious pushback you’ve received. I appreciate the seriousness you’ve exhibited referencing the communication from those you respect.
But I honestly just don’t understand the opposition.

I do not like guns. I’ve never been around them, they were never part of my Southern California upbringing. Guns scare me. But, I have had fairly close relationships with some who are part of the gun culture to varying degrees, whether it’s been neighbors or family members (in law side), coworkers, etc.  Some are shooting range guys, very very few are hunters, some are self-described collectors (meaning they have guns for no real reason other than they like owning them). A handful are what we would call gun-nuts.

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The Ugly Truth Prime Badge

In our initial reports of the shooting at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas I emphasized that first reports are subject to the “fog of war” and should be taken as tentative. I really had no idea we’d see this level of up is down changes in the story. If you haven’t been focused on the nitty gritty virtually none of the original story turns out to be true. The shooter wasn’t wearing body armor. He wasn’t confronted by three separate officers on the way into the school. Most importantly, the local police waited roughly an hour to confront him.

The current story runs like this.

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Cracks in the Facade Prime Badge

We’re watching what seems like at least a mini-exodus of musical acts and elected officials from the NRA conference in Texas. Arch jingoist Lee Greenwood is out. Gov. Abbott is now going to send a taped message rather than attending in person. Now we’ve learned that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, an even more antic rightwinger, is sending his regrets as well.

To be clear, all these worthies are claiming that their support for guns and the NRA is wholly undiminished. The elected officials also have something of an out since they can say that their decision isn’t about the NRA at all. They’re just urgently needed on the ground in Uvalde to deal with the aftermath of the shooting.

But actions here speak louder than words.

There are some specific nuances I wanted to share with you.

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Pretty Foggy Prime Badge

We’ve noted a number of times that early accounts of school shootings are subject to the “fog of war” – chaotic uncertainty about what is happening, factual claims that turn out not to be true and more. That is ending up to be the case in the Uvalde shooting even more than I expected. The initial story was that the shooter was confronted by and exchanged gunfire with a school police officer and then exchanged gunfire with two municipal police officers just after he had entered the school. Body armor was a key part of why the shooter came out on top in those engagements. An account I read early yesterday said that each of those three officers received gun shot wounds – a fact that stands in contrast to the idea that they just ran for cover and didn’t do their job.

But now it seems like basically none of that happened.

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Rejected & Defenestrated: Behind the Scenes in The Michigan GOP Gov Dumpster Fire Prime Badge

Don’t miss Matt Shuham’s rundown of the events in Michigan today. Five candidates for Governor, including the two frontrunners, were kicked off the ballot for collectively submitting tens of thousands of forged signatures on their ballot petitions. The hearing itself included about as much comedy as you might expect. One ejected candidate complained that the whole situation was the state’s fault for not warning candidates not to hire forgers to collect signatures for them. Another complained that the state hadn’t told them soon enough how many forgeries they were submitting. Needless to say they all agreed it was an outrage, that the state should deem their forged signatures legitimate (for some unexplained reason) and generally give them a forgery mulligan.

But there’s some electoral politics stuff going on here in the background I wanted to be sure is on your radar.

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Where Things Stand: Destroying Docs In Shady Ways Was Apparently A Fixture Of The Trump WH
This is your TPM evening briefing.

We already know a bunch of details about ex-President Trump’s proclivity for ripping papers into tiny shreds after he was finished reading them during his presidency, leaving the work of taping the documents back together to National Archives staffers.

We also learned that Trump liked to discard documents in other weird ways a few months ago, back when reports first surfaced that indicated White House staffers might’ve improperly handled some top secret documents when Trump brought boxes of records to Mar-a-Lago after he exited the White House. Those reports included befuddling details about Trump’s penchant for flushing records down the toilet when he was done reading them.

But it appears the unconventional (*cough* maybe illegal *cough*) document-destruction extended beyond the former president himself — a man who we all know had a lot of mystifying habits to begin with.

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Candor, Take Two Prime Badge

I’ve gotten a great deal of pushback to my “Candor” post in which I argued that a “functional majority” of the country in fact supports the gun status quo. It’s not big money or the gun lobby. It’s us. This is what we seem to want. One longtime reader said my comments amounted to a city slicker demonization of rural America. Another good friend said I was discounting the role of opinion shaping institutions like Fox News. And yet another said I was mistaking preference for inertia.

I took these criticisms seriously because these are each serious people. As so often is the case the disagreements are as much semantic as they are based on different readings of the facts at hand. I said a “functional majority” since I’m pretty sure if we held a plebiscite the status quo wouldn’t come out on top. But we don’t govern by plebiscite. Pro-gun America has all sorts of built in advantages — regionalism, the rural-urban split, intensity and a lot more. Inertia is certainly a big factor too. And what about all the polls that show overwhelming, sometimes verging on unanimous support for things like red flag laws and background checks?

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