New York City

Published on February 13th, 2013


Anthony “Rek” LeCounte: Empire State of guns

We can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and  with common sense, and that’s what we’re going to do.” – Andrew M. Cuomo

There is a political hero in . Tuesday night, he spoke truth to power  and abided by his conscience in demanding the best for his constituents. He rose  humbly above the abattoir din of political games to speak truth we all needed to  hear. His name is Greg Ball, and he is a suburban Republican member of the New  York state senate.

I’ll let him speak for himself.

On that Tuesday night, celebrated the signing of the most stringent gun laws in the country. Some  measures, such as better background checks, new mental health policies, and safe  storage requirements, are sensible. (Whether or not they’ll “work” is another  matter.) Less sensible measures ban certain cosmetic features of popular long rifles  (which killed a grand total of five people statewide in 2011) and force owners  of common “high-capacity” magazines to sell them out of state or face a  misdemeanor.

On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he will follow the lead of  gun-control interests in talking a big game about gun violence while  offering “sensible” bans on “military-style” accessories. Because,  presumably, fewer children would be dead in Newtown if only the shooter didn’t  have a pistol grip and flash suppressor or had been forced to use the extra  magazines (see: Columbine) and handguns (see: Virginia Tech) he brought with  him. The president’s disappointing show might have been worth it, however, to  witness unrepentant gun  criminal David Gregory pontificate on MSNBC about the need to enforce  tougher gun laws — like the kind he ignored.

It must be nice to be rich, liberal, and well-connected.

At any rate, I’ve previously noted that the category of “assault weapon” is invidiously clever  political fiction. If you don’t understand why there is no such thing as an “assault  weapon,” then stop and click on the preceding links. Go through their material,  as though saving lives through knowledge and effectively reasoned action is of  paramount importance to you, and come back.

I’ll wait.

Assuming we’re now all on the same page, the operative point is quite simple.  As David Kopel succinctly puts it:

“Today in America, most handguns are semi-automatics, as are many long guns,  including the best-selling rifle today, the AR-15, the model used in the Newtown  shooting. Some of these guns look like machine guns, but they  do not function like machine guns.”

In case you’ve come away from all those facts surprised or uncomfortable, you  are probably wondering: Why, if “assault weapons” are not essentially different  from other guns, are they favored by recent mass shooters? I’ll answer that  question by way of another: Why are sedans (or a given type of sedans) the  favored cars of homicidally reckless drivers?

Is it because certain sedans are speedway-style racecars that have no place  outside a NASCAR track? Is it because some of them have too much fuel in a  single tank? Of course not. The very idea of blaming certain cars, accessories,  or fuel levels for criminal stupidity is contemptibly absurd. The reason sedans  are commonly used in reckless driving is because sedans are the car of choice of  most drivers, responsible or otherwise. Likewise, the AR-15 is the rifle of  choice for most Americans, law-abiding or otherwise, so they tend to be used in  mass shootings.

Now that you appreciate all these bits of clarity on “assault weapons,” I  invite you to consider a related matter. It is certainly understandable for  ordinary citizens with busy lives not to understand the complexities of the laws  and facts on guns — especially when their leaders and media clearly do not. But  why on Earth haven’t those leaders and media bothered to understand something  they claim is so important? Nearly all the major journalistic enterprises — from Business Insider to The Washington Post to The New York Times to NPR — continue to conflate civilian “assault  weapons” with military-grade, illegal-for-civilians assault rifles. The Post  even imagines that “assault weapons” are “the most powerful” on the market.

We’ll pause so the deer hunters may laugh. Compose yourselves, ladies and  gentlemen.

Speaking of leaders, you would think a high-profile, major-policy task force  for the commander-in-chief of the greatest military in history would have  ascertained the rank futility of citing any cosmetic “style” in preventing  violence. Better yet, you would think the president who chided a former  opponent’s military understanding with a quip about “horses and bayonets” would  know the difference between popular civilian weapons used for, among other  things, killing vermin and actual military-grade assault rifles — capable of  burst mode or fully-automatic fire — used on the battle fields to which he sends  our troops to die. I suppose he couldn’t be bothered.

I have no idea which of these “elites” are cynically deceitful and which are  merely staggeringly incompetent. Hanlon’s Razor and reflexive charity would  oblige us to opt for the latter view for most. But given that a simple Wikipedia  search would reveal at least the basic concepts we’ve discussed — and these  people are supposed to be reasonably informed for a living — Hanlon’s charity  must transmogrify into Grey’s Law: any sufficiently advanced incompetence is  indistinguishable from malice. Thus we return to cynicism and active deceit.

To be fair, I’ve heard a few gun-rights advocate go on about “assault  weapons” and “assault rifles” on national television, even while defending the  same. Of all people, they should certainly know better, and it’s not  unreasonable for ordinary folks on either side of the aisle to assume as much.  But in the end, the major editors, pundits, and lawmakers should always do their  own homework, and there is no excuse for their not having done so. So we must  assume most of them did and chose to ignore it. If they were unbiased, they  would at least accurately present the terms. But they do not.

Perhaps the mainstream media doesn’t want you to understand how pointless  proposed bans are. I can only wonder why.


About the Author:  Anthony “Rek” LeCounte  graduated from Yale with a degree in Political Science and expects any future husband to love politics and college football at least half as much as he does. He blogs about conservative policy, principles, and political philosophy at Token Dissonance. Tweet him @RekLeCounte

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