The shooter of an unarmed security guard at the Family Research Council headquarters last summer was on a mission to target organizations he viewed as anti-gay, and he obtained a gun days before he tried to carry out a plan to kill “as many people as possible,” according to newly disclosed court documents.
New details about Floyd Lee Corkins II emerged Wednesday in federal court, where he admitted to the politically motivated shooting at the conservative think tank in downtown Washington. Corkins, 28, pleaded guilty to three felony charges: a federal charge of transporting a firearm and ammunition across state lines and D.C. charges of assault with intent to kill and committing an act of terrorism while armed.
It turns out that Corkins had bought 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and intended to smash them into the faces of FRC employees before shooting them dead. This was his idea of striking a blow for gay rights. According to the US Attorney’s court filing, law enforcement found in Corkins’s pocket a list of three other conservative organizations (unnamed in this filing) where Corkins planned to do mass killing if the police didn’t catch him at FRC.
You might be thinking: here’s a fanatical pro-gay militant who hates Christians so much he wants to murder them while shoving chicken sandwiches in their faces. CNN reports, “Corkins told Judge Richard Roberts that he hoped to intimidate gay rights opponents.”
What’s this case about, then? Political terrorism? Violent anti-Christian bigotry? Not really; it’s about gun control. In a news release, the US Attorney tells us:
“This case highlights the dangers of access to high-capacity magazines that allow killers to inflict carnage on a mass scale in the blink of an eye.”
To be fair to the US Attorney, that news release from his office also brought up political terrorism:
“Individuals such as Mr. Corkins, who commit violent acts in pursuit of political aims, are a danger to our society and to the freedoms we enjoy as citizens,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “In today’s plea, Mr. Corkins admitted to committing an act of terrorism in the District of Columbia. Together with our partner law enforcement agencies and with the assistance of the community, the FBI will pursue all those who seek to intimidate or harm U.S. citizens.”
Not a sentence from the US Attorney or his staff about how hatred of conservative Christians for their beliefs motivated the failed homicidal culture warrior? The highlight of this case of attempted anti-Christian mass murder is … that we need more gun control? Wow.
If the situation were reversed, and some fundamentalist Christian berserker with a gun had very nearly committed mass murder at a DC gay-rights lobby, the media would be rushing to make it a Teachable Moment about hatred, and where it could lead if we’re not careful. And most of the time, they should! Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen in the FRC case.
The Corkins affair is not going to be a story about anti-Christian bigotry, even though that was clearly a central element of this crime, though not, obviously, the only aspect of the case. It’s rather going to be a story about how we need to crack down on guns. Christians can only hate and commit violence against gays; it can never happen in reverse. Mary Stachowicz, right down the memory hole. So too with Floyd Corkins. Watch.
Sometimes, these scripts write themselves.
UPDATE: To clarify, I don’t want this to turn into a cause célèbre for the Christian Right. I dislike the eagerness with which we in this culture rush to seize events like this and appropriate them for our activist aims. Still, I think it is useful to reflect on how so often when gun violence like this comes from killers with right-wing motives, the media ask questions about where that motive came from, and compels us to consider the possible cultural sources of the violence. In this case, even though the attempted murderer admitted his motives in his statement to the FBI and to the judge, the role that hatred for conservative Christians played in what could have been a mass murder is not something that interests the media. I think this is an important double standard.