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Mother Jones's Own Reporting Contradicts Its Conclusions on Gun Violence

10:04 PM, Dec 21, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado
In 2007 a gunman killed two people and wounded three others before being shot himself; the pro-gun crowd likes to refer to the woman who took him out in the parking lot as a "church member." Never mind that she was a security officer for the church and a former cop, and that the church had put its security team on high alert earlier that day due to another church shooting nearby.

You know what word accurately describes a "former cop"? Civilian. Next:

Bar shooting in Winnemucca, Nevada
In 2008, a gunman who killed two and wounded two others was taken out by another patron in the bar, who was carrying with a valid permit. But this was no regular Joe with a concealed handgun: The vigilante, who was not charged after authorities determined he'd committed a justifiable homicide, was a US Marine.

If you follow the link Mother Jones provided identifying the Marine in question, the news report says "it was not clear whether he was on active duty or had finished his term of service." In other words, Mother Jones has no idea whether or not the guy who stopped the shooting was a civilian or not. And here's my personal favorite:

Middle school dance shooting in Edinboro, Pennsylvania
An ambiguous case from 1998, in which the shooter may well have already been done shooting: After killing a teacher and wounding three others, the 14-year-old perpetrator left the dance venue. The owner of the venue followed him outside with a shotgun, confronting and subduing him in a nearby field until police arrived. The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who himself recently argued for more guns as an answer to gun violence, told me this week that one police source he talked to about this case said that it was "not clear at all" whether the kid had intended to do any further shooting after he'd left the building.

Since it wasn't clear whether the 14-year-old shooter in this instance intended to kill more people, would Mother Jones have preferred that the civilian with the shotgun walked away so we could find out what his true intentions were? Mother Jones is saying this isn't an example of a civilian stopping a school-related shooting from escalating because, well, Mother Jones doesn't want it to be.

Anyway, I asked the author of the Mother Jones piece on twitter, "To be clear, if the shooting in Nevada was stopped by a former Marine -- and you don't know if he was still in the service ... That would be an example of a civilian stopping a potential mass shooting, right?" and further pressed him to define what he means when he uses the word civilian. His response:

Normally, I would associate specious conclusions derived from arbitrarily defining words while commenting on facts reported elsewhere with "talking in circles." But apparently this is "real reporting."

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