How did AR-15s become the plastic straws of the gun world? It’s simple: Demagogues need scapegoats. Yet just as banning plastic straws won’t make a dent in the ocean-polluting plastics problem, banning “assault rifles” (which aren’t) won’t save even one life.
It’s tragic how, just like faddish teenagers playing a dangerous or stupid social-media-driven prank, so-called adults go on misguided, media-driven, lynch-mob kicks. Remember when SUVs were demonized as planet killers approximately 15 to 20 years ago? Some environmentalists claimed that SUV drivers were essentially “hate group” members, and other vandalism-crazy greenies would, ironically, set fire to the vehicles to combat global warming. Yet SUVs currently appear more popular than ever, and all is quiet on the gas-guzzler front. What happened? The demagogues and their dupes have moved on to a different neurotic fixation.
Now the suburban soccer mom can drive her Panzer-size SUV (by the by, back in the “day” they were called “trucks” — ah, marketing) content in the “feeling” that she’s saving the environment because she supports banning plastic straws. Never mind that doing so likely won’t save even one marine mammal, since the U.S. is responsible for only one percent of ocean-polluting plastics, and straws account for just 0.025 percent of that. Never mind that anti-”strawism” began with erroneous claims in a nine-year-old’s science project (ugh, beam me up, Scotty). The lynch mob must be fed, and plastic straw users, well, really suck….
Joining straws in the dock, and giving new meaning to demonizing the one percent, are Assault Rifles™. Not only are they used in, approximately, just one percent of homicides, they aren’t even “assault rifles,” a term that had always referred to weapons that could be fired fully automatic or in more than one way (fully auto, three-shot bursts, etc). Now the term is being applied to semi-automatic (one trigger pull, one shot) rifles with certain cosmetic features (a military “look”), which is a bit like putting a Porsche body on a Yugo chassis and claiming the car will win races.
But, hey, as anti-gun crusader Josh Sugarmann once put it, these “weapons’ menacing looks,” coupled with the public’s confusion — “anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” Yeah, it’s a con.
That said, AR-15s are used in an inordinate percentage of high-profile mass shootings. But believing that outlawing them would reduce these incidents’ frequency makes as much sense as believing that banning the BMW 4 Series — which AutoBlog.com lists as the car most likely to be involved in a crash — would reduce the accident rate.
Quite apropos, AutoBlog’s subtitle boldly reminds readers, “Remember: People cause crashes, not cars.” The point is that outlawing a vehicle wouldn’t take the kind of people who drive it off the road; they’d just get into accidents in a different vehicle.
This point is even more relevant for AR-15-category rifles. The AR-15 is commonly used in mass shootings for two simple reasons: It’s the most popular rifle in America.
And it looks cool.
In reality, though, such a weapon isn’t the best choice for committing mass shootings, which generally involve attacking soft targets at close range. More effective would be a semi-automatic, 12-gauge shotgun or even a pump-action one (and a shotgun was used in the Aurora, Colorado, shooting in 2012).
In other words, not only would mass shooters simply choose a different weapon if AR-15-type rifles were somehow unavailable, but it’s arguable that the rifle’s criminalization could push them toward more effective weaponry.
Speaking of which, presidential contender Irish Bob O’Rourke said in March, echoing many, “I just don’t think that we need to sell any more weapons of war into this public.” He’d have been more accurate if he’d stopped after his first four words. But the pitch is rhetorically effective, conjuring up images of flesh-eviscerating machine-gun fire.
Yet leaving aside the common argument that allowing Americans the same firearms the military uses was the Second Amendment’s actual intent, first note that the AR-15 was never a standard issue US military rifle. In fact, while the M-16 — which uses the same platform but isn’t limited to semi-auto fire — was, it was supplanted a while back by the M-4; this, in turn, is set to be replaced by an entirely different rifle that will likely even use different, more effective ammunition (critics have long bemoaned the M-16’s/M-4’s relative lack of stopping power).
Moreover, how many guns weren’t designed as “weapons of war”? Bolt-action rifles were once state-of-the-art weapons of war. So was the flintlock. Go back even further, and clubs were weapons of war, and many people are still killed with them today. Should we outlaw baseball bats?
In fact, far from devastating, the AR-15’s standard round is small caliber (the same diameter as a .22) and has the second least power of the 41 cartridges found on this Rifle Cartridge Killing Power List page (note: When loaded with 5.56mm ammo, the power is somewhat greater but still relatively lacking). In other words, you can acquire any number of hunting rifles far more devastating than an AR.
This, mind you, is why some states have prohibited the AR-15’s use in deer hunting; its relatively weak round may not kill the animal, but simply send it off wounded and suffering.
It’s also why the nine-year-old girl in the video below could fire the weapon with ease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDdHj6iCP0k
In contrast, I’ve seen a 240-pound man (who wasn’t prepared for the extreme recoil) almost knocked over by a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with a magnum shell.
So we can outlaw AR-15-type rifles if it makes us feel better, but just as banning plastic straws won’t save marine life, it won’t save even one human life. For this reason, it would also be followed by another scapegoated gun targeted for criminalization. Note here that Britain’s deadliest ever mass shooting, the Dunblane massacre in 1996, inspired sweeping anti-firearms laws — after being committed with handguns.
Oh, and London just surpassed N.Y.C. in homicides last year.
This is unsurprising since, as Professor Thomas Sowell illustrated, there’s no correlation whatsoever between stricter gun laws and lower murder rates.
This is why, more to fear than guns are demagogues — shooting off their assault mouths.
As I emailed him:
The 2nd amendment isn’t about hunting.
NO. Your move.
Today we must begin with a rather unusual request: Will all law-and-order liberals kindly butt out, just this once? We don’t need your help on this one.
We are talking today only to the millions of Americans who strongly support conservative principles, cherish the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and admire the iconic leadership of Ronald Reagan and Sen. Barry Goldwater………….
“I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47 is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.” ………..
Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential standard-bearer who famously posed with his favorite rifle in ads that declared “I’m the NRA,” was an Air Force Reserve major general who opposed selling military-styled assault weapons to civilians………….
“I’ve never used an automatic or semi-automatic for hunting,” Goldwater said. “There’s no need to. They have no place in anybody’s arsenal. If any SOB can’t hit a deer with one shot, he should quit shooting.”………….
Close the background-check loopholes (like the one that mass killer in gun-proud West Texas just used). Ban bump-stock modifications and huge capacity magazines that transform civilian guns into battlefield-ready weapons. Ban the manufacture, sale and civilian ownership of military-styled assault weapons (and yes, let’s buy back assault weapons to keep us safe).
Finally, when gun lobbyists and their puppets push you to settle for only fixing background checks and nothing more, tell them this test about saving our family’s lives has only one correct answer: All of the above.
Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at email@example.com.
‘in spite of‘?
But anyway, when you’ve lost The Hill, noted for being left of center…..
Anti-Trumpers agree: The president’s trade battle with China is hurting our economy and, in particular, America’s farmers. We are told that the tariff tiffs have caused a collapse in U.S. agricultural exports to China, and consequent heartbreak in our heartland.
It isn’t true.
As with most criticisms lodged against the Trump White House, this oft-repeated narrative is way overblown. Turns out, far from suffering what CNBC recently described as “a devastating year for farmers” the farmers of America overall are doing quite well.
The Department of Agriculture recently forecast that net farm income will rise nearly 5 percent this year, to $88 billion. That growth comes on top of increases in both 2017 and 2018 and is, just for the record, faster than the overall growth of the economy.
For sure, times could be better. The forecast for this year means that real net farm income would come in 36 percent below its peak of $136.5 billion in 2013 and slightly below its 2000-18 average ($90.1 billion). Farmers suffered a severe drop in total revenues during the Obama years, collapsing from $484 billion in 2013 to $412 billion in 2016. Weirdly, I don’t remember the media paying much attention.
Not all farmers are expected to enjoy rising income this year. Commodities receipts are forecast to decrease $2.4 billion, or less than 1 percent, to $371 billion, while sales of animals and animal products should climb modestly.
And that dreadful soybean collapse? The DOA is estimating that revenues for all crops will decline $3 billion, or under 2 percent, thanks to crimped soybean sales. But payments to farmers under the administration’s Market Facilitation Program, in addition to other subsidies, will rise almost $6 billion this year, more than offsetting the fall in crop receipts.
Perhaps most startling, the DOA forecasts that the average farm will see net cash income increase more than 11 percent this year, “the first annual increase after 4 consecutive years of declines.” Moreover, the median income of farm households will be up almost 4 percent this year.
At the same time, farmers are getting richer; the net worth of the farm sector is likely to rise slightly this year, to $2.7 trillion, mostly because of higher real estate values.
In short, it turns out that as a whole our farmers are doing ok, or maybe even better than ok.
Large scale intimidation and thuggery was on display on the streets of Boston this weekend as antifa and other extreme leftists bullied and harassed anyone they deemed divergent from their groupthink. They spit and punched and yelled hateful things at law enforcement and by Saturday night there were 36 arrests and 4 injured officers, according to Boston police. Nine people face charges of assault and battery on police officers.
Our elected leaders need to call out antifa for what they are: a hate group.
They target anyone they’ve determined to be an existential threat — and that is most everyone except their fellow anarchists, socialists and communists. Any Trump supporter in their minds would most definitely be considered a fascist, and would necessarily need to be stopped one way or another from appearing in the public square.
“We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,” said Jon Crowley, an antifa member who told the Herald that he felt violence was the only way to deal with the people marching in the parade, which went from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza. “They are fascists, 100%. How else are you going to get them to shut up?”
In an August 2017 rally on Boston Common, antifa and other radical leftists hunted down attendees of a controversial “free speech” rally. There were 33 arrests for disruptive behavior. The mob descended upon a man wearing an Israeli flag. Bottles of urine and rocks were thrown at police.
Last November, antifa converged on Tucker Carlson’s house, vandalizing the dwelling, chanting threats, banging on the door, and spray painting an anarchy symbol on the driveway according to Associated Press reports.
Ted Cruz and his wife got similar treatment when the same group converged upon them in a restaurant.
In June, journalist Andy Ngo who has covered antifa’s violence in Portland, Ore., critically for years was brutally attacked by the group, suffering a “traumatic brain injury,” according to his then-employer Quillette. Ngo is a gay, Asian-American journalist. It is easy to imagine what the coverage would be like if he was pummeled by a conservative mob.
In the months since, antifa and various far-right groups have continuously clashed on the streets of Portland, with escalating violence that the city and law enforcement seem powerless to stop. Boston must do everything possible to prevent similar repeated confrontations from erupting here and turning the city into a massive street fight every time someone wants to exercise the right to free speech.We do not endorse nor defend the “Straight Pride Parade” or any of the other affiliate groups who were present this weekend in Boston. Interests seemed to vary but by and large there was a strong pro-Trump contingent present among the heavily outnumbered parade-goers.
These groups have a right to lawfully assemble, however, as do counter-protestors. It is unacceptable that peaceful speech from either side should be allowed to escalate into physical altercations by violent mobs. This must be widely condemned by elected leaders regardless of their political leanings.
Congressman Ayanna Pressley, for example, should reconsider her choice to call for donations on Twitter to help bail out the arrested counter-protestors, thanking them and calling them “allies” in a tweet Saturday. Violent and disruptive behavior cannot be normalized by our politicians.
Thuggery must be punished harshly by the justice system and those who attack police must pay a high price for their actions.