Rampage Nation: Newsweek plays dumb about the Pittsburgh cop killer

The weekly has a big spread in this week's issue about how the issue of gun control has been left alone by Democratic politicians, even after the recent wave of killing sprees. As somebody who recently criticized the press for ignoring gun violence, and failing to use the shooting rampages as a time to address gun control, Newsweek does deserve credit for its piece.

Still, there is a mjaor problem with the piece. The first is that Newsweek uses for its peg, the tale of Richard Poplawski, who's accused of killing three Pittsburgh policemen who responded to a routine domestic disturbance call at Poplawski's apartment.

Here's what Newsweek reports:

It was the deadliest day in the history of the Steel City's police department. When police finally apprehended and questioned Poplawski, he was without remorse. “He said he wishes he could have killed more Pittsburgh police officers,” says a cop who was on the scene but asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case.

So according to Newsweek, Poplawski was just a nut who snapped when the cops came to his apartment. Newsweek then quickly segues into its dissection of the politics in play. The problem is the local Pittsburgh press was stocked with reports about how the shooter was a fan of fringe, online conspiracies, and was afraid Obama was going to take away his guns.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Richard Andrew Poplawski was a young man convinced the nation was secretly controlled by a cabal that would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

He slept with a gun under his pillow in a basement room filled with firearms and ammunition, convinced that Jews controlled the media and President Obama was scheming to take away his arsenal, friends and relatives said Saturday...[A friend] said Poplawski usually was affable and kind, but grew angry recently over fears Obama would outlaw guns.

The local AP dispatch:

Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn't clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

But readers of Newsweek are left clueless about whether radical, baseless rhetoric from the far right about Obama might have prompted Poplawski to ambush three officers and murder them outside his apartment. Newsweek's article examines the politics involved in the gun control debate and gun violence in America and focuses on how little Democrats are doing. Newsweek though, completely ignores the role conservatives are playing in the issue, and specifically how some are stoking false fears about a so-called Obama gun ban.