Since so many media types seem to have a problem using the "terrorism" word for the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, here's a little fable from an alternate universe that might help:
At the request of President Ted Cruz, the Department of Justice has called for a high-level summit to address the years-long string of terrorist activity aimed at gun dealers that recently culminated in a hostage situation in Arkansas, leaving three dead and nine wounded.
Constitutional law professor Joseph Hopewell, of George Mason University, said while he in no way condones the actions of anti-gun extremists, he understands their frustration.
"For years now, they've tried to work through the political process to limit the purchase of guns," he said. "Unfortunately for their cause, the Supreme Court keeps coming down on the side of individual rights, and the law is the law. But imagine the psychological stress as you watch all these people get gunned down on a regular basis, like the Sandy Hook shootings. When you look at the pictures of 25 small children who were shredded by automatic weapons fire, it's hard not to sympathize at least a little with their efforts."
Robert DeLong is a gun dealer in the Bronx section of New York City, and he describes the routine he follows to protect himself and his employees. "First of all, everyone comes through the back door, and even before they have their coffee, it's on with the bulletproof vests. Although that's assuming they're not going with a head shot." He said his shop is closely monitored, but that didn't help identify the perpetrator when, only a few days ago, a man wearing a mask and black hoodie filled his locks with glue. The store opening was delayed for hours, until a locksmith could replace the locks.
"I'm thinking of taking a locksmith course," DeLong joked. "It would save me a lot."
After each mass shooting, some extremists track gun store employees to their home addresses. After the recent Brooklyn flea market shootings, Mary McKenna of Staten Island (whose dealership sold the weapons used in the attack) woke one morning to find "wanted for murder" posters all over the poles in her neighborhood. Her face, name, and address were featured, also listing three instances in which sales from her gun shop resulted in a mass shooting. "Stop the killings!" the signs exhorted.
"My kids were so upset," she said. "They're in high school, and you know how mean kids can be. They were calling them "Nazis" and killers. My kids would love for me to get out of the business, and I have to keep reminding them of a little thing called the Second Amendment. I believe in what I do. I provide a service, and I won't be intimidated."
Like DeLong, McKenna also takes extensive security measures, which she declined to discuss. "It's not easy, living under seige," she said. "But you adjust, I guess."
Jane Smith, president of the innocuous-sounding Moms Against Guns, which is headquartered in a Boston suburb, oversees a group that has been closely linked to extremists. "Look, I can't control who goes to our website and signs up. It's not like we can do a background check -- which the gun lovers oppose, right? They oppose even the smallest, sanest attempts to reign in gun violence," the mother of three said in a recent interview.
Her group is known for extreme, distasteful tactics like leaking the gruesome Sandy Hook autopsy pictures. (During the recent NRA convention in Flagstaff, a truck with billboard-sized blowups of gunshot violence victims circled the convention center.)
Asked if she feared that such actions would erode potential support, she smiled.
"This is what guns do," she emphasized. "If gun supporters and dealers can't stand to look at these pictures, maybe it's time they examined their consciences and asked themselves why.
"If seeing tiny children torn to shreds upsets them, maybe it's time to consider another line of work, for the good of their own souls."
Does she feel responsible for the 13 gun dealer deaths?
"Absolutely not," she said. "We are a non-violent organization, working to stop gun violence. We are not personally responsible for the effect the truth has on mentally-deranged individuals.
Yes, when protected legal activities are targeted with inflammatory rhetoric, inspiring stochastic terrorism, call it what it is.
Stop tiptoeing around. It's terror, and it's meant to be terror.