[Ed: The Arbalest Quarrel examines Second Amendment legal topics. We thought this worth posting for their take on who the underlying accomplices were, and how media shape readers’ opinions by manipulating written and pictorial content. This was edited with approval of the author, attorney Roger Katz, from his original piece due to our space limitations.]
By now, anyone who keeps abreast of National news is aware of the tragedy that occurred recently at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York City. News accounts point out that a “physician” from Nigeria, Henry Bello, went on a shooting spree after having his limited hospital privileges revoked. Although the Hospital used the appellation “Doctor” to describe Bello’s position with the hospital, Henry Bello did not have the privileges of a medical doctor because Bello did not have a license to practice medicine in New York.
The Hospital ultimately terminated Bello’s employment, and it did so for good cause: sexual harassment. Bello, obviously in a rage over the termination of his employment with the Hospital, decided to get even.
The matter of sexual harassment, though, ought not have come as a surprise to the Hospital Administrators—which should have given careful thought before they hired Henry Bello—because Bello has a criminal record that includes, among other things, the crime of sexual abuse. Other incidents in his life, as reported through a multitude of news accounts, available to anyone through a simple internet search, point to a mentally unstable person—a person who certainly had no place as an employee in a Hospital setting. Hopefully, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital will give more thought to its security policies. Bronx-Lebanon Hospital ought to ask how an individual could secret a rifle into the Hospital and why, apparently, the Hospital had no armed security officers at the Hospital’s entrance and at its reception desk. Furthermore, if security officers were present at the Hospital’s reception desk, how is it that none of them managed to discover an assailant walking past them, hiding a bulky weapon—a rifle, not a handgun—under a thin lab coat? In that regard, it appears that this tragic incident was not the first to occur at the Hospital.
Mainstream news accounts do not spend time investigating how an individual, once in Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, had sufficient time to murder one person, a physician, and wound several more, stalking the interior of the Hospital. Mainstream media news sources gloss over these matters, at best, or fail to mention them at all. The New York Times, for its part, ultimately turned its attention to and expressed keen interest investigating and reporting on Henry Bello’s accomplices in the crime.
ABOUT THOSE ACCOMPLICES—
The Times strongly suggests that Henry Bello had one principal accomplice who assisted him in carrying out the multiple crime and two others who abetted him. The name of the principal accomplice—indeed, the master architect of the crimes—is, as can be gleaned from a perusal of a recent NY Times story, none other than what the Times refers to as the “assault weapon,” a.k.a., the “assault rifle.”
In a Times story, titled, “Despite Strict Gun Law, Doctor Was Able to Buy Assault Rifle,” published Tuesday, July 4, 2017, Times journalists, Marc Santora and Al Baker, assert that Bello “carried a semiautomatic AM-15, which is Anderson Manufacturing’s version of the AR-15, a civilian rifle, close in design to the M-16.”
But the New York Times newspaper reporters move the narrative along—suggesting that guns are evil personified and must, in good conscience, be outlawed.
A photograph of the rifle Bello used during his murderous rampage at the Bronx Hospital appears immediately to the left of a photograph of Bello himself on page “A15” of the print edition of the Times newspaper. The appearance of the rifle, directly to the left of Bello, in the print edition of the news story graphics—below which the caption reads, in part, “Dr. Bello and the AM-15 that he used”—is not and should not be considered mere happenstance.
Readers of English, as those of other Indo-European language, read, left to right. As advertisers and psychologists know, the eye is trained to emphasize words and graphics that appear to the left of one’s visual gaze and to minimize those that appear to the right of one’s visual gaze, By juxtaposing a photograph of the rifle next to and to the left of the photograph of Bello, the editors of the NY Times, responsible for the placement of words and graphics in the Times newspaper, create the impression—that the implement Bello employed in carrying out his crimes—the AM15 Optic Ready .223/5.56 Caliber M4 AR-15 Rifle—is, truly, the real culprit—the main perpetrator, evil doer, and mastermind of the crime—and that Bello, who pulled the trigger, less so—that Bello happened merely to be the toady who pulled the trigger, as commanded by the M4 AR-15 Rifle. The Times’ message is this: blame the AM15 Optic Ready .223/5.56 Caliber M4 AR-15 Rifle, not the man; place the ill individuals in a mental health facility, and, at once, eradicate firearms.
Having commanded Bello to kill himself, rather than to give himself up to the police, the M4 AR-15 has thereupon successfully eliminated the one perpetrator that can effectively cast blame on “him”—“the Rifle”—but the M4 AR-15 Rifle isn’t talking, and isn’t expected ever to cooperate with investigators.
Were the Times editors, who created and positioned the graphics that appeared with the print edition of the story, aware of the impression they were creating with the graphics that were used in association with the newsprint edition of the story? As we know full well, the Times is notorious for creating illusions and allusions about guns: false notions about guns and hints about the “nature” of guns, as if guns have “natures” at all and that they can and do behave like the worst of people amongst us, not unlike any sentient being. The authors of the Times article suggest, as well, that there were two additional accomplices to the crimes—those that were not at the scene of the crimes but who were, nonetheless enablers of the crimes committed by the M4 AR-15 Rifle and by Bello: one, the dealer, who lawfully sold Bello the rifle he used to kill an innocent individual—a medical doctor—and to seriously injure several other innocent people; and, two, the gunsmith—holder of both a valid federal firearms license (“FFL”) and a valid New York State gunsmith license, who lawfully modified the rifle (the “Optic Ready .223/5.56 Caliber M4 AR-15 Rifle”) to conform to New York’s restrictive gun laws that then allowed the dealer to lawfully sell the rifle to an individual, Bello, the killer, who, was not under disability.
The Times’ reporters hardly disguise their contempt for both the gunsmith and the gun dealer, whom they attempt to implicate in and castigate for Bello’s actions. Further, through the remarks of the reporters and through the graphics published in association with the story, the Times suggests that a gun dealer is not unlike a used car dealer, or like others who operate morally dubious and objectionable businesses, such as a purveyor of payday loans and a purveyor of pornography. The Times reporters suggest that these two abettors of Bello—the gun dealer and the gunsmith—are definitely morally culpable even if not legally culpable under a philosophical notion and legal theory of causation. We are to believe that, if the gunsmith had not modified the M4 AR-15 Rifle, to conform to the New York law, the rifle could not have been lawfully sold in the State to average, law-abiding citizens, who are not under disability; and had the dealer who lawfully sold the rifle to Bello, not obtained the rifle from the gunsmith to sell to Bello, then Bello would not have used that rifle to commit the horrific acts he committed. This chain of causation is aptly demonstrated in a child’s nursery rhyme, “Mother Goose: This is the House that Jack Built”.
What is left unsaid is that, as long as Bello operated in murderous frenzy mode, he would still have committed his acts of murder and mayhem: if not with the M4 AR-15 Rifle, then, perhaps, with another firearm, or if not with a firearm, then perhaps with a knife, or with a hatchet, or with a bomb, or with anything else at hand. A reasonably intelligent person can devise many effective ways to destroy human life, and destroy human life relatively quickly, if destruction is in the heart and mind of that person.
Bello intended to cause serious harm. If a firearm were not available, he would have found some other implement. But, Bello did not use a butcher knife or axe to commit horrific crimes. He used a firearm, and since it is firearms that the mainstream media is forever focused on, as the source of many if not most of the major ills in society, the fact that a firearm happened to be utilized by Bello in the death of one individual and in the injury of several others, that fact plays well into the fictitious narrative the Times creates. The public sees no such focus of attention on the implements employed to harm others when that implement is a knife, or an axe, or an automobile. Mainstream news media sources maintain that “the gun” is an implement that enables a person to kill efficiently, quickly. Yet, a person can in fact kill many people just as efficiently and effectively with a knife, or with an axe, or with an automobile. But, then knives and axes and automobiles are not implements specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. But, the Second Amendment, as with the entirety of the Constitution, is an “old” document. The mainstream media considers the Second Amendment to be outdated, archaic, anachronistic. The idea conveyed by Messrs. Santora and Baker is that the gunsmith who made the modifications that allowed the M4 AR-15 Rifle to be sold lawfully in New York and that the dealer who lawfully sold the M4 AR-15 Rifle to Bello, ought both to be implicated in the crimes, precisely because they utilized loopholes in the New York Safe Act to avoid the import of the Act.
Restrictive as the SAFE Act is, the Times’ reporters do not feel it is restrictive enough. They believe that it has loopholes that need to be closed. The Times reporters do not see the Safe Act for what it is: a devious, insidious, scheme created by its drafters to override the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is highly unlikely that the New York SAFE Act and similar draconian firearms’ Acts presently in force in other jurisdictions would survive U.S. Supreme Court review. But, then, those legislators and jurists who hold nothing but contempt for the Second Amendment see no reason why they cannot treat the natural right, codified in the Second Amendment, with disdain. Messrs. Santora and Baker would likely protest that the NY SAFE Act must go further and more must be done to prevent individuals, not under disability, but who, like Henry Bello, present a danger to self and to others when they have access to firearms. But, how might that be accomplished? The short answer is that it cannot and ought not be accomplished. The fact is that it is dangerous to presume on past conduct precisely what a person will do in the future. Today, millions of law-abiding citizens, and non-citizens who legally reside in the U.S., possess firearms and pose no danger to themselves or to anyone else. If draconian gun laws are enacted in an attempt to weed out anyone deemed to pose a potential risk to self or others if that person has access to firearms, how do we go about weeding out those individuals? The fact of the matter is that the occasional lunatic, as with the occasional drunkard behind the wheel of a car, will do harm. But the danger posed is minimal, and minimal as it is, that danger can be reduced yet further–through the arming of more citizens, not disarming them. But if Government is permitted to exert ever more control over the lives of millions of rational, law-abiding citizens in order to successfully weed out the few potential risks, a greater harm to a free Republic and to the rights and liberties codified in the Bill of Rights exists.
Bello intended to cause serious harm. If a firearm were not available, he would have found some other implement. Even though the New York gun dealer and the New York gunsmith did not know, and could not have known and certainly would not, willingly, have abetted Bello’s criminal actions had they known of Bello’s murderous inclinations and intentions.
The Times reporters strongly suggest that the SAFE Act, strict as it is, isn’t strict enough. They are asserting that the SAFE Act has “loopholes” that need to be closed. But, to make that point, the NY Times plays fast and loose with facts concerning so-called assault weapons and would deny access of firearms to millions of law-abiding New York residents based on the reprehensible actions of a few lunatics and psychopathic criminal elements in society. The gun grabbers inevitably, invariably, exhibit their lack of knowledge of both firearms and of ammunition The Times consistently, erroneously conflates assault weapons with military assault rifles. But assault rifles and so-called assault weapons are not the same thing. They are not functional equivalents and should not be considered functional equivalents. The expression, ‘assault rifle,’ is a military term of art and refers to selective fire weapons. The expression, ‘assault weapon,’ on the other hand, is not a military term of art; nor is it a term of art in the firearms’ industry.
So-called “assault weapons” are not designed by gun manufacturers for the military or law enforcement markets; only for the civilian market, given specific limitations in their application which limitations make them unsuitable for military or for law enforcement work.
Such weapons that may happen to look like military weapons are not military weapons. And appearance does not change the functional nature of the weapon. Similarly, calling a firearm an ‘assault rifle,’ or using the expression ‘assault weapon’ interchangeably with ‘assault rifle’ when the weapon is capable of semiautomatic operation only does not thereby convert the weapon into a military assault rifle; and designing a weapon to look like an assault rifle, does not an assault rifle make.
Functionality, not cosmetics, is critical to—and the key—to a weapon’s performance.
‘Assault weapon’ isn’t a military term or an industry term. The expression is a political expression, created by antigun groups and utilized as a tool for propaganda. The expression, ‘assault weapon,’ is merely a legal fiction to confuse and intimidate the ignorant and unwary.
Through that legal fiction antigun legislators create a special category of weapons—a category that semiautomatic weapons—weapons that, by law, are illegal for the average civilian to own. Through time, the gun grabbers seek to place more semiautomatic weapons in the category of banned weapons, until, eventually, all semiautomatic weapons become inextricably linked to “assault weapon” nomenclature. Indeed, the expression ‘assault weapon’ is, now, virtually synonymous with the expression ‘semiautomatic weapon.’ Antigun groups and antigun legislators seek, eventually, to ban all semiautomatic weapons. One definition of ‘assault weapon,’ in New York law specifically includes some weapons that aren’t semiautomatic in operation at all. Section 37(D) of the SAFE Act, for example, bans revolving cylinder shotguns, referring to them as “assault weapons” even though revolving cylinder shotguns aren’t semiautomatic in operation.
The “assault weapon” attribution is amorphous and nebulous and allows antigun legislators to broaden the scope of banned firearms at will, at their whim—to include anything and everything they wish to include under that designation, as a mark of opprobrium.
The NY Times inappropriately uses an opinion piece that belongs in the Op Ed section of the paper, as a news piece because the paper illustrates forcefully and unmistakably its vehement distaste for firearms in civilian hands. Value judgments belong in the editorial section, not in the news section, of a newspaper. The Times is not, it is clear, invariably, concerned with truth in reporting—certainly not on matters pertaining to firearms as the paper deliberately confuses the public rather than informs the public.
The NY Times reporters, Messrs. Santora and Baker, assert that, “the law [NY SAFE] was also aimed at decreasing the damage a gunman could do by limiting the size of a clip to 10 rounds.” But, then, since Henry Bello “carried three of them,” as Messrs. Santora and Baker assert, quoting an unnamed law enforcement official: “as a practical matter, Dr. Bello ‘had his 30 rounds.’” What are the Times reporters getting at here? It’s no secret.
The NY Times is making a case, in customary oblique fashion that, since semiautomatic weapons generally use clips, it hardly matters how many rounds a clip may hold. An individual can carry several clips at once, easily loading them into the firearm
The law enforcement official, whom the Times reporters quote, says the .223 cartridge are “large rounds.” But, is the .223 cartridge a large round? What does the expression “large round” mean? Do firearms experts even use expressions “large round” or “small round” to describe cartridges?
If a military assault rifle were chambered for a typical high-power cartridge such as the .30-06—the round utilized in the semiautomatic M1 Garand Rifle—such round in an assault rifle would be useless for hand-held full auto fire because a soldier would find the weapon extremely difficult to control. The .223 also has distinct advantages for civilian defensive use. The cartridge is frangible. That means it is designed to disintegrate when it comes into contact with a hard surface. A .30-06 cartridge, on the other hand, can easily penetrate hard surfaces. As with the fictional “assault weapon” itself that the reporters, Santora and Baker talk about, the article presented is essentially an Op Ed propaganda piece masked as a news story.
The New York Times presents false information pertaining to firearms and ammunition, passes that information off as factually true, and uses that information in an Op Ed piece, itself disguised as a factually true and neutral news article. The newspaper does this to buttress a narrative. It is a narrative which the public has seen many times before and, undoubtedly, will see many times to come. It is this: “assault weapons are weapons of war and ought to be banned outright.” The verbiage may change slightly here and there. But, the message is always the same. It is a message intended not to educate the American public, engaging the public’s intellectual faculties, but, rather, one designed to stir the emotions of the public—the “lizard” part of the brain.
Mainstream media organizations such as the New York Times orchestrate against the preservation of our Nation—against the idea of a free Republic as our founders intended it. They construe our Bill of Rights in a manner alien to our framers’—alien to the meaning inherent in the rights and liberties codified in the Bill of Rights as the framers drafted it. But, we are faced today with those that argue that such restrictions and repressions on firearms ownership and possession must be restricted and, they dare to say that this is good a thing for the American people.
What is good, and right, and natural is, these gun grabbers believe, is just a matter of perception. Change one’s perceptions and you change one’s reality—you change one’s sense of what is just and proper. And, they intend to change the public’s perceptions toward guns and toward civilian gun ownership. The forces that crush seek to change our reality—to change the idea that we, Americans, are unique, and to destroy the notion that our uniqueness is expressed and reflected first and foremost, in the natural right of the people to keep and bear arms.