A Va. politician is giving away an AR-15 rifle as a Second Amendment statement. That’s the washingtonpost.com headline — an announcement so bland you wouldn’t be surprised to find it at guns.com. Nor would you, a member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia, find it odd that WaPo writers Ian Shapira and Laura Vozzella couldn’t resist demonizing the firearm featuring in Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart’s gun giveaway. Your first clue?
The caption underneath the featured photo above: “In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, Barbara J. Mattson, with the Connecticut State Police’s firearms training unit, holds up a Bushmaster rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook School shooting, for a demonstration during a gun-law hearing.”
What does a gun similar to the one used for the Sandy Hook slaughter have to do with a pol’s political pandering to pro-gun voters? I’m glad you asked!
On Saturday, [Stewart] announced that he’s giving away an AR-15 rifle, the style of weapon used in several of the nation’s mass shootings and most notorious crimes, including the 2002 Washington-area sniper attacks, one of which was a homicide at a gas station in Stewart’s county.
In a news release Saturday, Stewart announced the AR-15 giveaway knowing full well that it would probably attract controversy — and news coverage.
“If elected to be your next Governor, you can be 100% CERTAIN I will never compromise on your God-given right to keep and bear arms,” Stewart wrote. “In fact, even though I’m sure it’s certain to send the liberal media into a frenzy, to show my dedication to the Second Amendment my campaign is GIVING AWAY an AR-15 to one lucky supporter.”
Well he wasn’t wrong, was he? The WaPo rose to the bait like Bruce the shark saying hello to Martin Brody in Jaws. But just in case you thought Shapira and Vozella were done impugning the AR-15, the not-so-dynamic duo dedicate another paragraph to educating readers about the firearm’s role in heinous — heinous I tell you! — crimes.
AR-15-style weapons and other assault-style rifles have been the subject of fierce debate because of their use in mass shootings across the United States. They were used in the Orlando club massacre this summer that killed 49 people; the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead; the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults; and the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in July 2012 that killed a dozen. Dean Harold Meyers, 53, was killed as he pumped gas on Oct. 9, 2002, in Prince William County with a similar weapon — a Bushmaster XM-15 — part of the Washington-area sniper attacks that killed 10 and wounded three.
Not to mention all the SUVs involved in traffic fatalities. Or the fact that long guns account for a fraction of firearms-related homicides (as The New York Times reported in 2014). Or the fact that the police responding to these crimes were equipped with AR-15s.
To be fair, the WaPo agitprop providers give Stewart a chance to defend the indefensible [/sarc]:
In an interview with The Washington Post on Saturday, Stewart dismissed the debate surrounding the weapons. “Look, this is a rifle that people are permitted to own in the United States. There’s nothing wrong with that,” Stewart said. “It’s a semiautomatic rifle. It is not an assault rifle. This is a great hunting rifle, and it’s also great for recreation use.”
Not exactly. There are states where Americans can’t own modern sporting rifles (a.k.a., “assault rifles”). But there are no states where internet surfers are spared hoplophobes’ hysterical hand-wringing. FWIW.