Have you ever read something by an author you generally respect that seems a little bit off? In a recent column, James Fallows posts a letter from a reader who is a gun enthusiast, and the result is a pissed-off Bastard. I'll post a couple of excerpts from this letter, then go on my tirade. Anyway, here are some selected bits from a concerned gun owner:
I have been getting in trouble with many of my friends for asking them to think about what is politically possible, actually effective and might find agreement among reasonable gun owners. Full disclosure - I am a gun owner myself but very much in favor of stricter controls.
It frustrates me to no end that no one on the gun control side of the debate knows anything about firearms, the differences between them, or precise ways to differentiate between them in law (or for that matter, in conversation). So all we hear are knee jerk cries to 'ban assault weapons'. And to hear that again after a horrible event in which an 'assault weapon' wasn't even used is just inane. It's like calling for a ban on convertibles after a truck accident.
Here's my problem with the focus on 'assault weapons': what people are really talking about are not weapons that are designed to look like military weapons- that's merely cosmetic and it always diverts the conversation. What they are really talking about are three features - the fact that these rifles are semi automatic, that they are designed to accept high capacity magazines and that they are often - not always but often - chambered for small, high velocity rounds, rounds designed to break up in the body and cause maximum damage.
Whether they have flash suppressors or a handle on top or look like an AK47 is absolutely irrelevant. There are other rifles that have some or all of the above features and not all weapons styled after 'assault weapons' do. It is critically important in this argument to be very precise.
Furthermore, many people still talk as though these weapons are fully automatic, which none of them are, at least legally.
Ya know, to hell with this clown... making a big deal about whether a weapon is fully automatic or semi-automatic is foolish- both types of weapons are meant to shoot large amounts of bullets in a short amount of time. In most cases, a semi-automatic weapon is even more dangerous than an automatic weapon, which is largely used in a "spray-and pray" fashion (the U.S. Army ditched its fully automatic setting for itsM16s in favor of a "three round burst" setting). Additionally, certain semi-automatic weapons can be modified to make them fully automatic. The distinction really isn't that important.
Anyway, what really chaps my ass is the one-sided insistence that gun control advocates have to be fully informed about the subject of guns when the opposition can engage in ignorant distortions and outright lying. Here we have Tealiban pastors blaming mass shootings on the teaching of evolution and gay rights initiatives. A former friggin' Republican presidential candidate blamed the massacre on contraceptive pills.
How about we make a deal, we liberals will learn about guns, and the conservatives will learn about the Theory of Evolution by Means of Natural Selection, the means by which different birth control methods work (this could save them a lot of embarrassment (and, by the way, George Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina is a d-bag), and the facts about gay people and the development of their sexual preferences. While we're at it, they should also learn the facts about Anthropogenic Climate Change, basic Economics, and Comparative Religion... need I go on?
I think Mr Fallows should have told his "concerned gun owner" reader to stuff it. All ya really gotta know about guns is that the gun shoots death.