Is the media moving on from blaming Sarah Palin for a shooting at a Tucson supermarket to blaming the state's "fierce devotion to firearms"?
Tuesday's A1 story by Jo Becker and Michael Luo, "Woven Through Everyday Life, a Fierce Devotion to Firearms" suggested that Times reporters still aren't comfortable interacting with American conservative gun culture.
"I have a Glock 9 millimeter, and I'm a pretty good shot."
The quip, by Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was made in an interview last year with The New York Times, when tensions were running high in her district. It speaks not only to her ability to defend herself but also to the passionate gun culture in Arizona, which crosses political lines and is notable for its fierceness, even in the West.
Indeed, the federal judge who was killed on Saturday in the shootings here, John M. Roll, had his wife and many people who worked with him take lessons at the Marksman Pistol Institute, an indoor range downtown. One of the doctors who operated on Ms. Giffords after the shooting rampage was a member of the Pima Pistol Club, an outdoor range where federal and local law enforcement personnel were practicing on Monday.
Arizona's gun laws stand out as among the most permissive in the country. Last year, Arizona became only the third state that does not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The state also enacted another measure that allowed workers to take their guns to work, even if their workplaces banned firearms, as long as they kept them in their locked vehicles.
The Times eventually addressed reality rather than wishful thinking about additional gun restrictions, which have not been shown to stop shootings.
Public support for stricter gun control, however, has dropped significantly over the last couple of decades, and there is little evidence to suggest that mass shootings change opinions.
In a Gallup poll conducted in October, just 44 percent of Americans said the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made stricter, matching Gallup's record low on the question set in 2009. The 1999 Columbine and 2007 Virginia Tech shootings appear to have had little, if any, effect on these views.
In Arizona, the liberalization of gun laws has accelerated over the last two years, after Jan Brewer, a Republican, succeeded Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, as governor in 2009, putting Republicans in control of both the Legislature and the governor's office.
Most people at the ranges said that, if anything, the shooting would cause more people to carry guns as a means of self-defense, rather than cause a retrenchment in the form of stricter laws.
"The criminals are going to have guns, so why should we as law-abiding citizens be punished for what a criminal does?" said Ms. O'Connell.