I have no statistical basis for making that conclusion. For all I know, there’s never been less agitation to ban assault rifles in the United States than right now. Which would mean that the article The Return of the Assault Rifle at buffalonews.com represents a significant percentage increase in the amount of media clamor for a ban on assault rifles (a.k.a. modern home defense sporting rifles). See how that works? If not, try this . . .

AK-47 rifles and other high-powered semi-automatic assault weapons were the guns of choice for street gangs back in the 1990s during the crack cocaine epidemic.

Drive-by shootings and AK-47s were synonymous in some Buffalo neighborhoods as city homicide levels reached an all-time high.

But now, more than six years after a federal ban on assault rifle sales ended, the feared weapon and similar ones appear to be regaining a foothold in local crime.

AK-47’s were the guns of choice for street gangs in the 90’s? Citation? Every study I’ve ever seen on the type of guns used in crime has concluded that handguns are, overwhelmingly, the bad guys’ firearm of choice.

Back in 2000, firearmsid.com reported that “Of all firearm-related crime reported to the survey, 86% involved handguns.” More recently, guncite.com reports that:

Assault weapons are not the weapons of choice among drug dealers, gang members or criminals in general. Assault weapons are used in about one-fifth of one percent (.20%) of all violent crimes and about one percent in gun crimes.

Well duh. You try hiding an AK-47—which you might have to do if the yes Dan Baum gun grabbers have their way. I guess common sense and the Internet were not available to scribe Lou Michel at the time of writing, or his editors pre-publication.

And what of the statement that assault rifles “appear to be regaining a foothold in local crime.” Appear? If that’s not the definition of sloppy journalism, the rest of the article is.

During a 22-month period prior to the expiration of the federal ban on assault rifle sales in September 2004, authorities confiscated 40 such guns in Buffalo.

By comparison, over the past 22 months, 84 of these types of firearms have been seized. That’s a 110 percent increase in confiscations, based on figures provided by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Throughout all of Erie County outside Buffalo, only two assault rifles were confiscated during the 22 months analyzed shortly before the ban ended. But that number increased in the just-concluded 22 months to 32 assault rifle seizures. That’s a 1,500 percent rise.

I hate friggin’ stats. But if jobbing journos keep manipulating data to serve their editorial ends, then I’ll keep asking the obvious questions. Such as, show me the weapons! Are these all guns used in actual crimes, or does the ATF stat refer to traces run on assault rifles? Let’s skip ahead a bit . . .

“The ATF has several ongoing investigations into illegal possession and trafficking of these types of firearms out of our Buffalo-area office,” said Ronald B. Turk, special agent in charge of the ATF’s New York field division, which oversees the entire state.

The local ATF office, Turk said, has more than two dozen of these weapons in its evidence vault.

Read that one carefully. Turk is NOT saying that the ATF has confiscated two dozen “assault rifles” from Buffalo criminals. Nor does “several investigations” equal 24 investigations. Speaking of misdirection, what other variables might account for the increase in the number of AKs around town? Population growth? Increased law enforcement? Increased crime? More hunters? A single big bust? What?

Which reminds me: what IS an assault rifle Lou?

Assault weapons are generally defined as guns that have large-capacity magazines allowing for continuous firing of dozens of rounds, a pistol grip that permits spray firing from the hip and a folding stock that enables the weapons to be easily concealed.

Hang on; large cap mags are banned in New York. As well as, wait for it, “assault guns.” Anyway, it sounds to me like you’re describing a machine gun there big guy. And are you saying that all of the “assault weapons” confiscated had pistol grips? As far as I know, the vast majority of AK-47’s are not so equipped. And don’t have folding stocks. Using this definition, how many of the guns cited are assault weapons? Not many, methinks.

OK, I think I’ve made my point. The demonization of “assault rifles” is back, and it’s bad. Actually, pop another one of them blood pressure pills for one more non-empirical assault against your mental and physical well-being. (Remember: it’s all for the children.)

Officials at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C., say that since the ban expired, the pace of violence inflicted by assault weapons has increased and Congress needs to take action to halt it.

“The growing number of police officers and average Americans being killed by assault weapons should worry all Americans concerned about making our neighborhoods safer,” Brady Center President Paul Helmke said.

“These guns are the weapons of choice for mass killers, drug dealers, gang members and other rogue elements. And yet the NRA [National Rifle Association] continues to push harder and harder to put more of them in circulation. Assault weapons have nothing to do with the Second Amendment, and we as a nation should stop making it so easy for dangerous people to have access to them and create mayhem in our communities.”

The article ends with the usual coup de grace: a sad story of death and destruction where the victim’s survivor calls for a gun ban. While tragic, we should no more allow those touched by a rare instance of gun violence to set public policy for firearms than we should surrender that right to a journalist with an AK-shaped axe to grind.

5 Responses to Anti-Assault Rifle Agit-Prop On the Rise

  1. I'm with you on the absurdity of the anti "assault rifle" argument. Couldn't agree more. But we have to stop using the term "gun grabber." First of all, it's syntactically imprecise; it implies that someone wants our guns for themselves, which is patently untrue. Second, it's just schoolyard name-calling. They're not gun-grabbers; they're people who disagree with us about gun rights. I'd have thought we want to convince such people that they're misinformed and misguided, and we can't do that if we're calling them names. (We don't like it when they call us "gun nuts," do we?) I was at a dinner party last night in Santa Cruz, California, with a group of people about as instinctively anti-gun as they come. They had all the usual prejudices, and were full of all the usual claptrap (assualt rifle carnage, the 90-percent of Mexican-cartel guns nonsense, and on and on.) We talked for about half an hour and by the end of it I'd convinced them at least to examine their own prejudices and consider that perhaps they'd been misled. Two of the women ended up admitting that the one time they'd actually fired a gun it was "really fun," and one said that she kind of wished she had a gun in the house when her husband was away on frequent trips. In other words, all of them were shaken out of their assumptions and made more amenable to the gun-rights and gun-utility position. I didn't do that by calling them names. (Actually, I did it by comparing their prejudice against guns and the people who like them to the prejudice against marijuana and the people who like it; they all got it, immediately.) Point is, we can thump our chests and call the other side names, or we can speak to them like ladies and gentlemen and sway them with the force of reason. You of all people, Farago, should understand this, having about as nuanced an understanding of guns and their role in society as any gun blogger. So again: Drop the "gun-grabber" rhetoric, please.

  2. The great uninformed are not they enemy and thus are not to be ridiculed, but should be taught as you did. On the other hand, there is a peculiar species of politician that can rightfully be called 'gun-grabbers." They cannot be taught because civil rights have no place in their lexicon.

    Unfortunately, we have allowed the political weenies to frame the issue, i.e., pro-gun or anti-gun. If the abortion-rights people has done the same and the issue was framed as pro-abortion or anti-abortion, the national dialog would be different than it is today. Instead, they labeled themselves as "pro-choice." Skillfully, the anti-abortion advocates reversed that spin by calling themselves "pro-life." We, however, have defined ourselves as pro-gun. Presonally, I am not pro-gun, not anti-gun. I'm in favor of self defense, and I view those who oppose my right to arm myself as being opposed to self-defense. That's the real issue. Gun-grabber is really to mild a term to describe a group that would rather see me dead than armed.

  3. Exactly WTH is an "assault rifle"? I'm pretty sure I could assault someone with a scoped Rem 700 in .308, don't you think? AKs and ARs are not automatically "assault rifles" simply because their looks scare lefties.

  4. The Buffalo News is a dying newspaper in a dying city. They do what they do in order to get readers, especially on a slow news Sunday. They've got to keep their (mostly liberal base) readers away from the Sunday NY Times (which I actually enjoy, often from a comic-relief standpoint).

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