Writing at the New Yorker, John Cassidy wonders aloud if the reaction to the Boston bombing would have been much different if the Tsarnaev brothers had used rifles instead of bombs. He writes, "Imagine, for a moment, that the Tsarnaev brothers, instead of packing a
couple of pressure cookers loaded with nails and explosives into their
backpacks a week ago Monday, had stuffed inside their coats two assault
rifles—Bushmaster AR-15s, say, of the type that Adam Lanza used in
Newtown. What would have been different?"
Cassidy then attempts to argue that the victims of the Newtown shooting got short shrift in comparison to the Boston bombing because of the weapons used. Here's the comparison he sets up [Emphasis added]:
Set off in a public space a couple of crude, homemade bombs that you
appear to have made using a recipe on the Web, and the state will make
you Public Enemy Number One. To insure that you are caught and punished,
there are virtually no lengths to which the authorities won’t go.
They’ll assemble a multi-agency task force overnight, calling on some of
the enormous investments in hardware, intelligence, and manpower that
have been made since 9/11. They’ll haul in anybody who might be remotely
connected to the crime scene, and, if necessary, shut down an entire
city. Once you’re caught, they’ll interview you in your hospital bed
without reading you your legal rights and then charge you with using
W.M.D.s. If you weren’t born in this country, there will even be talk
about changing the immigration laws.
If you systematically shoot a classroom full of defenseless
six-year-olds and blow off your own head, things proceed rather
differently. To be sure, you, or your memory, will be hated and
vilified. But the political system, in hock to the N.R.A., will classify
you as a nut whose deadly actions have few or no policy implications.
(With the demise of the gun-control legislation, that’s what it did with
Adam Lanza.) Life and politics will go on as normal. The President will
probably visit the scene of your outrage and say consoling things to
the families of your victims. He’ll mean what he says, but he won’t be
able to do much about it, and nobody will ask why the F.B.I. or the
C.I.A. didn’t realize you were such a menace to society and lock you up
preëmptively. Crazed shooters, after all, are something we’ve grown used