Politics Under the Gun

PARIS PREFECTURE/AP

The face of loner Richard Durn, who fatally shot eight people, then jumped to his death while in police custody

Last week's mass murder of eight city councilors in a Paris suburb left not only a traumatized community and bereft survivors. Coming in the thick of a presidential campaign, alsoit, set France searching for political meaning in a fundamentally senseless act. Both major candidates, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and President Jacques Chirac, were on the scene before sun-up, condemning the attack in the same words, as "a murderous folly." Yet by the end of the day the two sides were enmeshed in a furious debate over the propriety of drawing any connection between the desperate act of a deranged man...

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