Reader Dave Dalton writes:
There is a subtle yet effective tactic being used by the modern day anti-gun movement in the United States. One that probably flies under the radar of most citizens. Over the past several years anti-gun legislators such as Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, and anti-gun groups have repeatedly called some semi-automatic rifles ‘weapons of war’ and ‘military grade weapons’.
While most pro-gun people just rolled their eyes at the stupidity of these remarks (myself included) the endgame was something no one was paying attention to. That endgame was normalizing those terms in the public forum, just as they did “assault rifle.” With this tactic, they’re literally changing how people thought, and now, unfortunately, changing reality.
I couldn’t help but be struck by this reality when a recent district court ruling came out in favor of Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban. The ruling stated that because these rifles were originally marketed to the military, they were in fact “military grade” weapons.
The judge even went so far as to quote the late Justice Scalia in the Heller decision where he wrote “weapons that are most useful in military service; M-16 rifles and the like” are not protected under the second amendment and “may be banned.” (More on this later.)
That’s when it struck me. I had, so to speak, ‘read this book’ before and knew exactly what was happening. The left had used the tactics of the government from one of my favorite books in high school, George Orwell’s 1984, to change the thought and reality of the gun debate. Several excerpts from the book came flooding back to me:
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
The tactic had finally paid off to perfection with a federal judge that has now incorrectly classified an AR-15 as a military grade weapon.
How exactly have words altered reality? You only need look to the news as one ‘reporter’ after another uses the term ‘assault weapon,’ a description that is so inaccurate it smacks of ‘the big lie.’ One that is told over and over until it becomes a truth, to most.
The ‘truth’ is any weapon can be used for an assault; rocks, bats, knives and yes, firearms. But they say these guns are ‘more deadly’ than others. Why? Because they have things like adjustable stocks and flash suppressors? The ‘truth’ is these things no more add to the ‘deadliness’ of the rifle than the man in the moon.
When asked why an AR-15 is more deadly than a Ruger Mini-14, which they don’t classify as an ‘assault weapon’, they stutter and stammer, trying to answer. The ‘truth’ is both rifles fire the same round, at the same rate of fire, with the same muzzle velocity and both have detachable magazines.
But the AR-15 somehow has a magical power to be more dangerous. The simple answer is this…the AR-15 looks scary while the Mini-14 doesn’t so it should be banned.
Then on March 31, 2018 something peculiar happened that most people didn’t notice. Merriam-Webster changed the official definition of an ‘assault rifle,’ a term that had previously been defined semi-correctly. The changed from:
“noun: any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use”
“noun: any of various intermediate-range, magazine-fed military rifles (such as the AK-47) that can be set for automatic or semiautomatic fire; also: a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semiautomatic fire”
Essentially Webster has accepted the term ‘weapon of war’ and ‘military grade weapon’ with this change because no other entity that I know of classifies them as such. But look at the language in the new definition, particularly “a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle”. How can a rifle that only resembles a military assault rifle, but has no other firing characteristics of those weapons, also be an assault rifle?
Coincidence? I don’t think so. Reality is being altered by the words of those who shout the loudest.
The same can be applied to the much-misused term ‘high capacity magazine.’ The anti-gun crowd throws this out every time there’s a shooting, claiming that if they were banned, fewer people would be shot. But they ignore the facts once again.
The Virginia Tech killer, one of the worst school shootings in modern history, used two handguns with a backpack full of 10-round magazines to murder 32 people and wound 17 more. The Parkland Florida shooter used 10-round magazines, too. The Baltimore Navy Yard shooter used a handgun and a shotgun. The Fort Hood shooter used handguns.
But none of that matters to the left. They will continue to demonize ‘high capacity magazines’ to push the disarmament cause. And the more they repeat it, the more people start to believe it. Again, a big lie repeated over and over until the general public accepts it as fact.
And accept it they have. Just listen to the kids that are protesting after the Parkland shooting. These terms keep coming up over and over, repeated louder and louder. An entire generation is being brainwashed into using these false terms in their passionate arguments for stricter gun control.
So let’s backtrack to the most potentially damning example of this tactic’s outcome, the federal judge’s ruling that an AR-15 is a ‘military grade weapon.’ He stated in his decision:
“Assault weapons and LCMs [large capacity magazines] — the types banned by the Act — are not within the scope of the personal right to ‘bear Arms’ under the Second Amendment.”
The judge, again using the inaccurate term ‘assault weapon,’ claimed that because the rifle was first marketed to the military it could be banned but he left out one very important detail. The rifle, which was first made in 1950s, was a ‘select fire’ rifle. Meaning it could fire in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode.
The modern day AR-15 rifle owned by civilians is semi-automatic only (the sale of new automatic weapons to the public has been banned since 1986). Secondly most of the M-16 internal parts are completely different (as mandated by law) to allow for fully automatic fire. So how exactly does the initial marketing of a select fire rifle equate to a modern semi-auto rifle, other than the fact they look similar?
Secondly how exactly are LCMs, as he describes them, military items when 75% of all semi-automatic handguns have standard magazines that hold anywhere from 13-20 rounds?
Again, I look back to the news outlets and to the politicians that continue to use the terms ‘weapons of war’ and ‘military grade weapons’ and have to wonder. Has a federal judge fallen into the trap of these false terms that are becoming more pervasive, and accepted, by the day? Is our reality being changed by language as Orwell ‘predicted’?
Anyone who knows anything about debating someone who challenges your position knows the best way to shut them down is with facts. What happens, though, when language and thoughts have been altered into illegitimate ‘facts’? What happens when the general public, politicians and judges become victims of an altered reality that accepts made-up terms and arguments as fact?
That’s what gun owners are facing today and if they don’t start standing up and correcting these people, our reality will become more and more immersed in facts that have no basis in reality. We will have fallen into an Orwellian trap and it will soon be too late to turn back the tide.
Dave Dalton is the founder of the American Gun Owners Alliance.