A “Do Something!” Question For “Do Something!” Anti-Gun Hysterics…[Corrected]

“How does banning something nobody can define when banning it once before didn’t accomplish anything constitute ‘doing something’?”

We are discussing, of course, “assault rifles.”

The mantra from Democrats, social media hysterics, tearful community members and President Biden is that a ban on “assault weapons” (you know: “weapons of war”) is an obvious, “common sense” measure that would save lives. One would think, would one not, that if that is really a serious proposal, one backed by statistics and facts, that its advocates would be able to clearly define what an “assault weapon” is.

Uh, no. On the Hill yesterday, Steve Dettelbach, President Biden’s hand-picked head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, was asked by Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX) to give a brief definition of the term “assault weapon” during his testimony in the House Appropriations Committee’s hearing focused on the ATF’s FY2024 budget. This wasn’t a “gotcha!” question: the guy heads the agency that oversees gun law enforcement, and he’s a members of the party that blathers on about deadly “assault weapons” at every opportunity. Nevertheless, Dettelbach couldn’t answer the question, instead huminahumina-ing,

“I’ll go shorter than that because I, honestly, if Congress wishes to take that up, I think Congress would have to do the work, but we would be there to provide technical assistance. I, unlike you, am not a firearms expert, to the same extent as you maybe, but we have people at ATF who can talk about velocity of firearms, what damage different kinds of firearms cause, so that whatever determination you chose to make would be an informed one.” 

Got it. The “ban assault weapons” demand is just a market-tested line designed for lazy, apathetic and gullible voters who will believe what they are told. The head of ATF doesn’t know what they are, but Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden’s air-headed (but historic!) paid liar does, telling the press earlier this month, “If you think about the assault weapons ban…We saw gun violence go down. When it sunset 10 years later, it went back up!” Her statement is false, as noted by the New York Times  among many others. When it comes to “Do something!” and guns, Facts Don’t Matter.

Only deceiving the public does.

17 thoughts on “A “Do Something!” Question For “Do Something!” Anti-Gun Hysterics…[Corrected]

  1. I think, in this case, this is the wrong question.

    “If there is support to harden schools, including the provision of armed guards, that supporters of the Second Amendment are willing to do, and which could pass with very little controversy, why won’t you agree to that?”

    • The usual stock answer is that they don’t want the schools to become prisons. Maybe so, but the days of cute little red schoolhouses where teachers in long dresses stood outside ringing a bell to start the day are long over. There’s also the line that students shouldn’t have to worry about shooters, or, apparently, even think about them. Then of course where “resource officers” or other police are floated, racial arguments enter the picture.

  2. Why should the head of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (such an interesting portfolio) know much of anything about firearms? The guy nominated to head the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t really know much about airplanes.

    • The portfolio is because originally the agency was created to collect taxes on alcohol. The very earliest agents were your stereotypical “revenuers” who went into the woods or up ol’ Rocky Top looking for moonshiners, and, at least according to the locals, just didn’t come back, ah’m sho I couldn’ say whah, but ’round heeyah, we mahnds ou’ own bizness an’ lahk others to mahn’ thayahs, so mebbe they trahed to mahnd someone else’s biznes and that someone di’nt tahk kahndly to it, if you known what ah mean.

      Soon after that they got a LITTLE more serious with Prohibition, and that’s where you got into guys like Elliot Ness and the Untouchables. In 1942 the agency was given responsibility for Federal firearms laws, and they got the responsibility for tobacco taxes and laws in the 1950s, and the responsibility for explosives in 1970, and only in 1972 did they become a full on agency of the Department of the Treasury. In 2002 they were moved over to the Department of Justice with the big government reorganization of the Homeland Security Act.

      Like it or not, they are yet another example of the unchecked growth of the Federal bureaucracy and Federal law enforcement, just like the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, which later evolved into the DEA, and just like the Bureau of Land Use and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquiring armed agents with arrest authority.

      Unfortunately, the directorships of these many growing organizations became what most such posts are, patronage appointments. Hence, they are as often as not occupied by political hacks as by the competent.

      • Thanks Steve. I knew it dated from revenuer days. And even the Whiskey Rebellion, I believe.

        Government programs never solve the problem they were founded to deal with, they just grow and grow and grow.

  3. Maybe the do something is to enforce the law costing laws and up the penalties for having an illegal weapon in your possession or using one in he commission of a crime.

    Make those convicted of such crimes have have to do detestable work along with rehab programming while incarcerated.

    Enough of plea bargaining away the gun charges.

    • I hate badly predictive text feature on phones. The second line should read increasing penalties for having an illegal weapon.

  4. I know “assault weapons” is nearly always a implicit reference to “assault rifles” and AR-15s, but isn’t an actual “assault weapon” defined as “a weapon used to commit assault?”

    That would include – but not be limited to – knives, machetes, crossbows, regular bows, any and all vehicles, cell phones (if thrown hard enough), bowling balls, baseballs, bats, clubs, most common hand tools, a person’s hands and feet,…

    A reminder: DHS classifies the AR-15 as a “personal DEFENSE weapon.”

    It’s incredibly telling that the head of BATF didn’t/wouldn’t define an assault weapon. I have lost much respect for most members of Congress, so when THEY make someone look uninformed…

  5. Too bad he wasn’t asked the follow-up question of when Congress banned bump-stocks or pistol braces. (They didn’t, of course; both are completely “dosomethings” by the executive branch via the ATF.)

  6. Not to be pedantic but

    > “If you think about the assault weapons ban…We saw gun violence go down. When it sunset 10 years later, it went back up!” Other than the fact that the ban ended 19 years ago not ten

    The ban lasted for 10 years, that is what she said. Although she is incorrect about the rates, they did go down, but they were going down from a bump in the 70’s and 80’s already, and gun homicide rate’s did not really start notching up until 2015. I think they like to conflate suicide and homicide rates and call them gun deaths rather than looking at the pertinent statistic of gun crime related deaths.

  7. I participated in an assault (firefight) armed with a 45-caliber handgun. I was personally assaulted by a patient armed with a broomstick. Perhaps we should first define what we mean by “assault.”

  8. I have given up having this discussion with those wanting to ban “assault weapons”. Almost all of them have no idea about guns. For example, most don’t realize that shotguns can be semi-auto. So they say they want to ban dangerous semi-auto rifles, but we can keep our shotguns.

    They have no idea about caliber, and somehow think an AR-15 is deadlier than my 300 mag hunting rifle.

    They think the AR “sprays” bullets, never realizing semi-autos shoot one bullet per trigger pull. There is no way to educate those so deeply committed to their ignorance and sense of rightness.

    I recently listened to a friend tell me all about those scary semi-auto weapons used only to kill people. I calmly explained all my hunting rifles are semi-auto. She was horrified, and used the spraying bullets argument. I again explained that’s not how any of that works. She stammered a bit, and then insisted again that we had to do something, and more gun laws would prevent murders. I asked her if it wouldn’t just be easier to make murder illegal.

    I don’t think we’re still friends.

    • Michelle K,

      Your conversation sounds a lot like several I’ve had. I have decided to wrap up my discussions with a directive: “Tell me what law you would write that would cause criminals to either 1) stop using firearms in the commission of a crime, or 2) turn in their guns to authorities.” It’s not a great directive (I actually think your statement is better), but I like putting the other side in the position of defending something.

  9. I could be wrong but isn’t ‘assault weapon’ a military term? I.e. infantry assaulting the enemy where the idea is to put enough lead in the air that the defenders can’t stick their heads up to shoot back?

    Real assault rifles have different settings, as I understand it, single shot, burst, and full automatic where it actually does ‘spray’ bullets around. Full automatic is not as good for aimed fire because the recoil tends to pull the gun off target.
    And, of course, in a genuine military attack, both sides likely have light and heavy machine guns, mortars, howitzers, tube artillery, not to mention armored fighting vehicles and aircraft.

    I have never been in a battle, although I’ve read scads of history and military history, but I can envision how terrifying, confusing, and disorienting it has to be. I imagine these folks wanting Congress to ‘do something’ have no clue at all.


    Also, regarding the idea that a weapon needs to be ‘automatic’ or ‘semi-automatic’ to be dangerous, I would refer them to the movie ‘Zulu’ (if it hasn’t been canceled). A relative handful of British infantry armed with single-shot rifles (i.e. shoot, eject the cartridge, and then load the next before shooting again) held off a numerically far superior enemy force.

    I’ll grant that it was really played up politically to somewhat offset the effects of the disaster at Isandlwana the day before, but still.

    • “Assault Weapon” is a term made up by the anti-gun crowd in the 80’s because it sounds like “assault rifle”, which is a real term used by the military to describe a compact, mid-range cartridge rifle with select-fire capability (semi + burst or full auto). The antis did this to make people associate semi-auto rifles that look “military”, but are no more dangerous (often less powerful) nor function any differently than common semi-auto hunting rifles with the weapons actually used in combat. It was basically made up to frighten and confuse ignorant people and position AR-style rifles as low-hanging fruit to further gun control agendas.

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