It was gratifying that the weekend post about the “weapons of war” anti-gun rhetoric attracted a great deal of thoughtful commentary here. I was thinking about the post again today when, as is increasingly the case, a sportswriter gratuitously injected politics into sports commentary. Baseball season is fast-approaching, and while one of the many reasons I follow the game so passionately is its ethics content, I look forward to the game to get away from politics, and incorrigible social justice warrior agitators like NBC’s Craig Calcaterra, lapsed lawyer, can’t resist misusing their sports platforms as a political soap box.
Today he gleefully informed readers that Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones had “denounced assault weapons,” telling Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“I believe in our Constitutional right to bear arms and protect ourselves,” Jones said. “But I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t.
“I would like to see something (new legislation) happen. I liken it to drugs – you’re not going to get rid of all the guns. But AR-15s and AK-47s and all this kind of stuff – they belong in the hands of soldiers. Those belong in the hands of people who know how to operate them, and whose lives depend on them operating them. Not with civilians. I have no problem with hunting rifles and shotguns and pistols and what-not. But I’m totally against civilians having those kinds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.”
Calcaterra makes sure that we knew that the ex-Braves player is an avid hunter and owns a rife, because he apparently wants us to think that owning a gun makes an athlete an expert on the Bill of Rights. (It doesn’t, and I’m pretty sure Calcaterra knows that.)
“While debate, often acrimonious, will no doubt continue about these matters indefinitely, it’s striking to see someone like Chipper Jones come out so strongly on the matter in the particular way that he has. It has to make people at the NRA and those who support it wonder if, when you’ve lost Chipper Jones, you’ve gone too far.”
Thus we have a lawyer appealing to the authority of a man who played baseball all through highs school, and signed a contract to be a pro baseball player at te age of 18. Call me skeptical, but I question whether he has devoted much research to the history and philosophy underlying the Second Amendment, or has read any of the judicial opinion and scholarship analyzing it. I especially question Jones’ flippant “denouncement” given the tell-tale signs that he doesn’t understand the right to bear arms at all, beginning with the misnomer “assault rifles” and the assumption that the most popular civilian rifle in the U.S. is a “weapon of war.” He also makes the offensive assumption that he is qualified to decide what kind of fire arms other citizens “need,” a commonly expressed attitude sharply discredited in this essay by playwright and screenwriter David Mamet.
I find myself increasingly impatient with uninformed opinions on important matters relating to our personal liberty, expressed by celebrities with no more understanding or special expertise than the typical semi-informed citizen, and often less. I am even less tolerant when I am told by journalists that attention must be paid.
Here is the Comment of the Day by Glenn Logan, who is informed on this issue, on the post On The Anti-Gun “Weapons Of War” Talking Point:
It struck me that if we were to ban “weapons of war”, it would encompass all the following:
1 Pump and semi-automatic shotguns – Both these shotgun types, indistinguishable from their civilian variants, are currently used in military and police arsenals.
2 Semi-automatic handguns – The military has been using these since their inception, and still does to this day. They have been used in every US war since 1911 to the present day. The iconic Colt M1911 and Beretta M9 are widely sold to civilians and are functionally identical to their mil-spec designs. For the most part, all semi-auto handguns are equally efficient (or inefficient), and because of how simple and fast combat reloads are, magazine capacity is only marginally relevant.
3 Bolt-Action rifles – These have been weapons of war since the 1830s and are still used by every military in existence today.
4 Semiautomatic rifles – The M38 SDMR (designated marksman rifle) is current military issue.
5 Automatic (select fire) rifles – Well, this one requires no exposition.
In some form or another, all the above weapon types are current USG issue, and therefore “weapons of war” by any meaningful definition of the term.
The way I read it, the only common firearms that are no longer weapons of war are revolvers and lever-action rifles, and perversely, fully automatic pistols (machine pistols). I think machine pistols are in use in foreign military service, though.
So to bring this thing full circle, what argument is there for banning only semi-automatic rifles of the same form factor the military uses, and not the rest of the arsenal? If it is a “weapon of war,” then under the theory of those you have quoted, they shouldn’t be in civilian hands.
So under the liberal argument, we’re to be relegated to revolvers and lever-actions. While I love both those types of guns, and they are certainly suitable to most home defense and hunting needs, they would be inadequate to the purpose the Second Amendment as it was laid down, and as you have so eloquently explained.