It would be nice to live in a world where you could trust the information imparted by the talking head news anchors you see on TV. Where well informed Cronkite-esque clones provide verified facts from reporters who had ferreted out the truth. But that’s not the world we live in . . .
Instead we get uninformed “personalities” who spout their personal beliefs without any particular knowledge of a subject or basis in fact. Stephanie Ruhle (above), anchor on MSNBC Live, is one such a person.
According to Mediaite, the following is an actual statement made by Ms. Rule on live television:
Why do you need any assault rifles? An assault rifle is different than a gun. A hunting enthusiast and one who needs an assault rifle, those are two different things.
Where to begin?
According to Wikipedia an “assault rifle” is a select fire (meaning “machine gun”) weapon that uses an intermediate cartridge and has a detachable magazine. Thanks to the National Firearms Act and the Firearm Owners Protection Act actual “assault rifles” are so rare and so tightly regulated in the United States as to be nonexistent.
Practically speaking, no one outside police and military units own any “assault rifles.” So I guess she’s right — no one “needs” an “assault rifle” because no one actually owns one.
In this case I believe she is referring to the AR-15 rifle as the object that’s “different than a gun” — a rifle that’s not a select fire weapon and therefore doesn’t meet the definition of an “assault rifle” But since this is a “journalist” and not someone who actually does research or respects the actual definition of words we’ll give her a one time handicap and move on.
Firearms such as the AR-15 rifle belong to a group of firearms referred to by the industry as Modern Sporting Rifles or MSRs. Or, if you’re in California or have a “D” at the end of your chyron, they’re also referred to as “assault weapons.”
No matter what you call them, these weapons are what we call a “subset” of the universe of firearms. As the word “rifle” in the pejorative Stephanie chose betrays, these so-called “assault rifles” are in fact rifles. A rifle is a firearm. Firearms are also known as guns. Even actual “assault rifles” like the military M16 are still considered a subset of guns.
The statement that “an assault rifle is different than a gun” is factually inaccurate and misleading. False. A lie, if you will. Fake news, some might say. But Ms. Ruhle’s next sentence reveals what she’s really getting at.
“A hunting enthusiast and one who needs an assault rifle, those are two different things.”
It’s the standard “No True Scotsman” argument implying that “real hunters” use old fashioned bolt action rifles. And nothing else. Because “assault weapons” are useless except for gunning down innocent people in mass shootings.
The problem with that claim: it’s also factually inaccurate.
Hunters have always been on the cutting edge of firearms technology. In fact, they’ve often the driving force behind the development of new cartridges and technologies later adopted by the military.
In the case of the AR-15, hunters across the United States use them in droves. Not because it’s a mass murdering machine. Because it’s a versatile, accurate weapon that can easily be reconfigured without costly trips to the gunsmith.
Your grandpappy’s Remington 700 is probably more palatable to the anti-gun crowd due to its relatively unassuming looks. But swapping barrels or changing out components is a time consuming process that requires skill. With the AR-15, that same operation can be done with little more than a hammer in a couple minutes. Not to mention the added comfort of being able to adjust the rifle to fit every shooter with the push of a couple buttons, something that’s damn near impossible on a traditional bolt action rifle.
But don’t take my word for it — the usefulness of the AR-15 platform as a hunting rifle is so well known that even TIME Magazine ran a story about it.
Those who claim that an AR-15 isn’t a “hunting rifle” are simply revealing their ignorance. They’ve never been hunting, likely don’t know any hunters and haven’t even bothered to take the time to do a cursory Google search on the topic.
And those who claim that “an assault rifle is different than a gun” are either hilariously uninformed or carefully exploiting the situation and their position to push a particular narrative on their audience. An audience that’s trusting them to impart reliable information.