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Shooting Your Mouth Off About Guns

This is instructive. I tweeted this:


And, predictably, there were people who … didn’t get it. Check out this exchange:

Ms. Smock, Ed.D., sallies on, undeterred, with the ardor of Bertie’s Aunt Agatha, for several more entries. It’s really funny, but there’s something important here, both in the media report and in Aunt Jessica’s reply.

There’s an intense campaign against guns underway in wake of the Florida shooting. I think it is perfectly reasonable for people to be talking about and advocating for restrictions of gun availability. But there are a lot of folks on the right who believe that the left is in a state of moral panic about all this, such that they want to go after all guns, period.

Things like the NBC media report — showing a pump-action shotgun and describing it as an AR-15 — bolster those fears. It might seem like a small thing to you, but there is a meaningful difference between a pump-action shotgun, which is a standard hunting weapon, and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. That TV piece is like prefacing a report critical of Evangelical involvement in Republican politics with video of a Catholic archbishop saying mass. You would imagine that the journalist who prepared it isn’t particularly interested in what she’s reporting on, but rather simply wants to get Christians out of politics, period.

And of course Aunt Jessica’s hissy fit over the whole thing, even when it is explained to her, only makes the point stronger.

I am one of the 57 percent of members of gun-owning households who supports stronger gun control measures, though I’m not certain (yet) where I would draw the line. CNN describes its poll results like this:

There is widespread support for several specific changes to gun laws, including 87% who back laws to prevent convicted felons and those with mental health problems from owning guns; 71% who support preventing people under age 21 from buying any type of gun; 63% who support a ban on the sale and possession of high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines (up from 54% in October, a new high in CNN polling); and 57% who back a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of rifles capable of semi-automatic fire, such as the AR-15, the same style as was used in both the Parkland and Las Vegas shootings (up from 49% in October).

I’m not sure what I think about banning the manufacture, sale, and possession of semi-automatic rifles. I want to know more. The rest of it I support, though I’m open to arguments against them. The point of this post, though, is to state how suspicious I am of the media’s general reporting of the story.

There are notable exceptions. Here’s a good, informative piece from The Atlantic, written by a Florida radiologist, who talks in detail about how and why the wounds from an AR-15 are dramatically more severe than wounds from other firearms. That’s a useful article, because it makes a reasonable, detailed case for why the AR-15 is different from other weapons. It’s the kind of thing that adds to our capacity for informed debate around guns and whether or not we should restrict them. Seems to me that that’s not typical though.

UPDATE: Reader Daniel (Not Larison) writes:

Rod wrote:

There are notable exceptions. Here’s a good, informative piece from The Atlantic, written by a Florida radiologist, who talks in detail about how and why the wounds from an AR-15 are dramatically more severe than wounds from other firearms.

I just read the article, Rod.

Why is he comparing a round fired by an AR-15 to a round fired by a handgun? That’s highly deceitful. It’s a classic apples and oranges comparison.

Why not compare the AR-15’s wounds to that of, say, a 30-’06 or .300 Win-Mag fired by a typical hunting rifle?

I’ll tell you why he doesn’t…because if you did, you’d see that yes, rifle bullets are more damaging than pistol bullets. They are, by definition, vastly higher powered.

So it you propose a “reasonable” gun law that banned “high velocity weapons like the AR-15”, you would, in fact, ban pretty much every hunting rile that exists.

I think we could reasonably discuss things like:

*Banning high-capacity magazines (with and exact definition of the number–like, say, 10 rounds)

Other things discussed, rarely with a thought of the impact:

*Banning fire arms with the capacity to accept detachable magazines (though that would ban an exponentially higher number of firearms, and would ban nearly every semi-automatic handgun)

*Ban all semi-automatics (which would be also exponentially more guns, including many popular shotguns, hunting rifles, etc.

But people will continue to argue in ignorance and with emotion.

Thanks for this. You are teaching me something I didn’t know. I do not favor banning hunting rifles.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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