Armbands, But No Arms Banned

Armbands, But No Arms Banned

Armbands, But No Arms Banned

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Aug. 12 1999 6:57 AM

Armbands, But No Arms Banned

The Los Angeles Times leads with the surrender to the FBI of the suspect in the L.A. Jewish community center shootings, a development that off-leads at the New York Times and USA Today and is fronted, (below the fold) at the Washington Post. The NYT leads instead with Kansas' decision to stop requiring the teaching of evolution as part of the state's science curriculum. The decision also deletes most classroom references to the big bang theory. One likely result observed by the Times: Kansas students will be unprepared for college admissions tests and college science courses. The story is carried inside at the WP. USAT leads with the tornado that hit Salt Lake City yesterday, killing one person (as far as anyone can tell, the first tornado death in the state) and injuring 100. The tornado is also fronted at the LAT and is the top non-local story at the WP, which leads with the worsening drought in Maryland and Virginia.

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The L.A. shooting coverage reports that the subject of a nationwide manhunt, Buford Furrow, materialized yesterday morning unarmed at the FBI's offices in Las Vegas, and surrendered, telling agents he was the shooter (in fact, say the papers, he confessed to murdering children at the center, but none of those shot there have died) and that his purpose in committing the crime was to issue "a wake-up call" for America to start killing Jews. By the day's end, Furrow was brought back to Los Angeles where today, sources say, he will be charged with attempted murder in the community center shootings and first degree murder in the death of a U.S. letter carrier about an hour later.

The papers report that Furrow is speaking freely to the cops, particularly helpful to them in the murder case for which there are no witnesses. The coverage includes the de rigueur interviews with shocked neighbors, and depicts Furrow as a neo-Nazi racist, who has been involved with each of the three most dangerous white hate groups. (The LAT front features a 1995 picture of Furrow in a Nazi-style uniform.) And also as a troubled loser, who after his prior arrest for pulling a knife on staffers at a mental hospital in Washington state, where he lived, told cops he often thought of killing others and himself. The WP and LAT report that several times he cut himself with a knife, once, says the Post almost severing a finger.

The NYT says Furrow's arsenal included an Uzi assault pistol. The LAT says the police won't confirm this. (One wonders how a rabid anti-Semite justifies or trusts using an Uzi, an Israeli weapon.) The LAT runs a separate story inside reporting that one of Furrow's weapons was an AR-15 assault rifle, apparently purchased piecemeal and custom-assembled. The central part of the weapon was manufactured, says the paper, by a company in Maine presided over by a man who had been the state finance chairman for George W. Bush before his day job became an issue. The AR-15 possession wasn't legal, because Furrow is a convicted felon, but easier to do prior to the Brady Bill, the paper notes. The story also says that Furrow told authorities when arrested previously that in his glove compartment, he always carried a 9mm Taurus pistol, a gun featured in an unrelated Wall Street Journal front-pager yesterday.

The NYT lead editorial about the shooting makes a pitch for Congress to do something serious about gun control. The LAT lead editorial says that the event shows that hate crime laws are justified, that the criminal justice system should keep better tabs on people like Furrow, and they should be getting better access to psychiatric help. One mystery the coverage doesn't make much progress on is: How did Furrow come to target the day care center? USAT fascinates with the news that a tour guide at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles says Furrow visited there several weeks ago and attracted the attention of security personnel  but disappeared before he could be questioned.

USAT fronts word that so far this year, 19 children have died in hot cars. Papers should avoid inflicting this sort of information on the reader sans context. For instance, how many children have been killed in car crashes this year, or shot? The story doesn't say.

The WP runs a Reuters dispatch relating the latest in a series of goofball comments by Prince Philip. While on a factory tour near Edinburgh, PP saw a poorly wired fuse box and said, "It looks as though it was put in by an Indian."

Note to editors: Enough with the automatic full-three-name treatment of heinous criminals. That's a convention from Wanted posters that you should adopt only if you also agree to run only front-and-profile pictures of them.

The NYT's Richard Berke, picking up on and crediting a column by Arianna Huffington in yesterday's LAT, reports that Warren Beatty is considering running for president. Beatty, a longtime liberal Democrat, is unhappy about the failure of campaign finance reform and tells the Times he's talked to people instrumental in previous Jesse Jackson campaigns. Oddly, the story doesn't mention Bulworth, nor does it mention a Beatty campaign's epidemic bimbonic plague possibilities.