Well, I tried again to discuss gun regulation with my next door neighbor following the Uvalde shooting. (The first time was a week before the shooting, discussed here.) We were talking over the proverbial fence about the Uvalde police chief, and her husband said, “Watch: now the whole thing will be blamed on him.” Before I could get out, “Well, not the whole thing, but you have to agree that the police share some resp…,” my neighbor said, “They’ll blame everything but the real cause: there is no reason to allow people to buy automatic weapons.”
“To be completely accurate,” I said cheerily, “you can’t legally buy automatic weapons. That guy in Texas had a semi-automatic.” She literally ignored that distinction. We talked for another 15 minutes, and she kept saying “automatic weapon.” “It’s just the difference between 400 bullets a minute and 300 anyway,” her husband offered. I assume he believes that; when I noted the same distinction between semi-automatic and automatic in a discussion on Facebook, my sister called it “semantics.” It’s not semantics! Moreover, an AR-15 can get off about 40 accurate rounds in the hands of a trained shooter, and about 25 when being used by someone like Ramos. An AK-47, a genuine “assault rifle,” fires about 600 rounds a minute. Hmmm…40 vs. 600. I’d say that’s a material difference. But my neighbor didn’t want to hear it, and didn’t.
Thus we get anti-gun zealots both programed by bad information and distributing it. Zach Seward, editor-in-chief of Quartz, tweeted this week, “We bought a gun—the same Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 assault rifle used in Uvalde. It was like ordering groceries. Click, checkout, done.”
Misinformation! Of course, Twitter doesn’t suspend accounts that spread good misinformation like that. The linked story went on, “Aside from that, it was a routine purchase, not unlike ordering a Lego set from Amazon or a pair of shoes from Zappos. Except, of course, for the lethality of the product.”
Noting the legal requirements for purchasing a rifle, the report said, “We didn’t get any notices or warnings about that during the checkout process.” It concluded, “[T]he fact that shopping for a firearm does not feel noticeably different than ordering those everyday items is a telling commentary on the prevalence of guns in US culture.”
Firearms purchased online can only be delivered to federally licensed firearm dealers, not to the purchaser. Once there, the identification and legal eligibility of the purchaser is verified by the dealer, who also must conduct a background check. The process also requires the purchaser to complete a government document, ATF Form 4473. State and local laws may add more steps to the process. (Let’s pass the now routine disinformation of calling a semi-automatic an “assault rifle.”)
The Blaze re-published a few of the mocking comments to the Quartz tweet, like,
- “‘It’s like ordering groceries..’ if Safeway had access to your criminal records and personal info to sell you a strawberry.”
- “Just like ordering groceries if ordering groceries meant going to a specially licensed dealer and passing an FBI background check.”
- “‘Buying a gun is just like buying groceries!’ Because we all know you have to pass a federal background check when you go to pick up your curbside order at Wegman’s….”
- “Not a single person in this entire media organization thought this story felt incomplete before publishing it. That’s cultural illiteracy …”
- “Yes, ordering groceries, something that famously requires proof of a clean criminal record…”
How do you have a productive, honest discussion about a public policy if one side insists on using misleading terms and false information, and refuses to acknowledge relevant facts?
Back to my neighbors: the bad analogies I have heard this week would justify its own article. Commenting on the shooter’s tender age and the fact that he had never had a regular job, my neighbor prompted me to note that the US can’t condition Constitutional rights on a citizen’s work history, and the response was “But states can require you to be 21 before you can buy a beer!”
“There is no Constitutional right to buy beer,” I said, smiling. “Ben Franklin wanted one, but it was voted down.”