That’s the question politifact.com seeks to answer after U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin called one of the firearms used in The Pulse nightclub slaughter a “weapon of war.” SPOILER ALERT: Politifact rate the Senator’s claim about the SIG SAUER MCX half-true. Here’s Sarah Hauer’s (no relation) reasoning:
The Sig Sauer MCX rifle Mateen carried is a civilian version of the MCX-MR, a gun designed for military use. The MCX-MR was designed to comply with a Department of Defense requirement for a weapon to be carried by special operations units with low visibility in terms of size and noise.
A backgrounder on the gun from the Violence Prevention Center sent to us by Baldwin’s team said, “there are no significant differences between them and military assault weapons.”
But Leigh Neville, a military researcher and author of the book “Guns of the Special Forces,” said the two versions differ “fundamentally.”
The civilian MCX lacks three key design attributes that make the MCX-MR suitable for special operations use.
1. The civilian version is semiautomatic, rather than fully automatic. A semiautomatic gun fires one round of ammunition for every press of the trigger whereas a fully automatic gun fires a burst of rounds with every trigger press.
2. The civilian weapon does not feature a silencer, though one can be purchased and attached with separate approval. A special operations soldier would be issued a silencer with the rifle.
3. The civilian version does not have all the options for differing barrel lengths and shoulder stocks as the military version to make the guns lighter and easier to carry. The shorter barrel options, which decrease the speed at which the ammunition is propelled, would be illegal or restricted for civilians under federal laws.
I know: all guns started as “weapons of war.” And who cares if Mateen’s SIG is, was, or could be a “weapon of war.” No one’s calling the responding SWAT team’s full-auto AR-style rifles “weapons of war.”
Come to think of it, if a bartender had used an AR-style rifle to take out Mateen, if that rifle had been capable of fully automatic fire (a.k.a., a machine gun), would that have been a “weapon of war”? If so, so what?
The Second Amendment has nothing to say about the type, caliber, barrel length, sound signature or firing rate of arms that citizens can keep and bear without government infringement. Anyway, here’s the really stupid bit you just knew would be in Politifact’s article:
“Civilian semiautomatic assault weapons incorporate all of the anti-personnel features of design and function that make assault weapons so deadly,” said Marty Langley, senior policy analyst with Violence Prevention Center.
Langley and others note that the weapon Mateen used is also very different from guns typically used for, say, hunting.
High-capacity ammunition magazines can be attached to guns like the MCX to hold extra rounds of ammunition. Additional grips like a forward grip or barrel shroud give shooters greater control for spray firing.
“Spray firing” from a semi-automatic rifle. ‘Cause that’s way worse than aimed fire. And we know that because . . . it sounds scarier than aimed fire. The really dumb thing? This:
Baldwin backed up her statement by showing that the gun Mateen had was originally designed for military use. But he had a civilian version of that gun that lacks key attributes of a military-style weapon. However, it’s also significantly different from weapons typically used by civilians for hunting.
The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details.
We rate the claim Half True.
Despite some useful truthful information about the SIG SAUER MCX (thanks for the link!), Senator Baldwin’s inaccurate and irrelevant characterization of the firearm as a “weapon of war” gets a pass because a “black rifle” doesn’t look like grandpa’s hunting gun. I rate the article half-*ssed, at best.