A few days after Barack Obama’s re-election, I wrote a piece about how an assault weapons ban is a dumb idea. And specifically outlined in that was the fact that cosmetic features don’t make a weapon any more or less deadly. A 12 gauge slug is still a 12 gauge slug whether or not there’s a barrel shroud on the shotgun, and that’s still gunna suck when it hits you. But the Media Matters blog disagrees, and decided to take a writer to task for suggesting that their views on the matter were wrong…
Daily Beast correspondent Megan McArdle attacked the concept of an assault weapons ban by falsely suggesting that there are no functional differences between such weapons and other firearms.
In her November 21 article, McArdle wrote that the differences between assault weapons and other firearms are “largely cosmetic rather than functional,” a claim also pushed by the National Rifle Association. In fact, assault weapons, like the military weapons on which they are based, have functional differences from other guns that increase their lethality.
First things first, see what they did there? That whole tying of the viewpoint to the NRA? Since the NRA is the Great Satan in the eyes of the gun control supporters, naturally anyone who takes a viewpoint similar to them must also be made of pure evil. At least, that’s the thought that they’re trying to plant in the reader’s minds. Its the editorial equivalent of calling someone an asshole.
The main point of the article, though, is to dispute the idea that cosmetic differences don’t change the lethal capabilities of a firearm. Or, put another way, that a barrel shroud makes a gun inherently more deadly. To do this, they use the above illustration of a shotgun in AWB compliant configuration and AWB-scoffing configuration.
In fact, the lower pictured weapon, a Mossberg 500 Tactical Persuader, has a number of features that increase its lethality compared to the top pictured shotgun. Contrary to what the graphic suggests, the only difference between the two weapons is not just the pistol grip featured on the Tactical Persuader. The Tactical Persuader also has an adjustable stock that can be removed from the firearm completely, which allows the gun length to be shortened for increased concealability. Furthermore, when combined with a pistol grip, the firearm can be more easily maneuvered, allowing the shooter to fire from the hip and more easily use the weapon from vehicles and in other close quarters situations.
Note to those who have never fired a gun: smaller guns are less capable of being controlled effectively. And not in the “gun control” sense, in the recoil mitigation sense.
There’s a saying among competition shooters that you can’t miss fast enough to make up for a hit. Accuracy is final, and guns are only lethal if you can actually hit your target. Firing from the hip or with a pistol grip shotgun might look cool and the image might make some involuntarily change the color of their underwear, but your ability to accurately hit targets is severely degraded.
I think one of the comments (from “displacer”) put it best though:
On top of that claims that you could use a pistol grip to better fire from the hip are not only unfounded (it would be just as easy if not easier to fire from the hip with a straight stock like on a “normal” shotgun since your hand naturally points downward with your arm at your side) but you would have no reason to do so at all. Firing from the hip doesn’t allow you to use the sights to actually aim, nor does it allow you to use your shoulder to control the rather substantial recoil generated by a 12ga shotgun. Claiming that a gun is more lethal when held in a way that makes it harder to control and prevents you from knowing where it’s pointed is like claiming people can drive better with their knees than their hands- there’s no practical, factual basis for it. Just like firing a pistol sideways it’s a product of action movies, no modern military or police doctrine encourages hip firing since it’s inaccurate and wasteful.
After a while, Media Matters tries to go for a summation paragraph to tie it all up:
The claim that assault weapons only have cosmetic differences from other firearms is trumpeted by the National Rifle Association, an opponent of assault weapons bans, but has little basis in reality.
See that whole “guilt by association” thing again? Indirectly attacking the credibility of the author instead of disputing the actual facts? I guess they have to, since their point of view is pretty darned flawed.
Let’s move off of the shotgun argument and switch to rifles, as that might make things a little more clear. Here’s my Texas legal AR-15 built around a Franklin Armory lower:
And here’s Franklin Armory’s California-legal “featureless” AR-15:
There’s an obvious cosmetic difference between the two rifles, but beyond that?
The two rifles have the same rate of fire.
The two rifles fire the same cartridge, with the same velocity and the same projectile that does the exact same amount of damage.
The magazines can be changed just as fast in one as the other.
The rifles are just as accurate, just as reliable, and just as deadly as each other. In short, there is no difference between the two.
The only thing an assault weapons ban has done is made the lawmakers and gun control advocates feel better. They are, in fact, no more safe than before. And at the same time, they have inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of legal gun owners by making their rifles a pain in the ass to comfortably fire.
Because the only reason for those features is comfort, not to make them more deadly.
The article wraps up with an excerpt from a white paper (not a study) from the Violence Policy Center:
All assault weapons–military and civilian alike–incorporate specific features that were designed for laying down a high volume of fire over a wide killing zone. This is sometimes known as “hosing down” an area. Civilian assault weapons feature the specific military design features that make spray-firing easy and distinguish assault weapons from traditional sporting firearms.
I reject the premise of that statement. The U.S. Military was obsessed with the idea of accuracy at distance when they developed the M-16, and that obsession shows through with the long barrel and the sighting system they chose. These guns were designed for combat on the fields of Europe, with enemies at 100+ yards, not for “hosing down” an area with inaccurate fire. In fact, they issued 20 round magazines to soldiers instead of 30 round magazines specifically to discourage this activity.
You’re thinking of an SMG, my friend. Not a rifle.
Here’s the thing though. Even if we accept the premise of that statement, the assault weapons ban as proposed and enacted in 1994 addressed none of the features that would actually enable this kind of usage. It addressed cosmetic features, not functional ones.
But Media Matters doesn’t realize that. The gun control groupthink is that an assault weapons ban is a good idea, and they go blindly along with it. Without applying a single lick of common sense.