Kwade is a freelance writer who is always in pursuit of education. He feels every subject is fascinating and worth study.
Articles in This Series
- Guns VS Gun Control Part I: What is a Gun?
- Guns VS Gun Control Part II: Why Do People Like Guns?
- Guns VS Gun Control Part III: Fear
- Guns VS Gun Control Part IV: Law Enforcement
- Guns VS Gun Control Part V: Misinformation and Gun Lies
- Guns VS Gun Control Part VI: Solutions
- This is a related article. Perhaps it should have been Part I: Defining the Second Amendment (For Us Laypersons)
Every time there's a mass shooting, or even a typical gun crime, there's some angle the media plays while talking about it. Especially on TV, there is a narrative using scary buzz words. "Assault Weapon," "High Capacity," "Cache of Weapons," and others commonly used to bring fear into it.
I'm not going to delve into conspiracy theories about why the media does what they do.
"The media's controlled by the government, man." Surfer Dude chimes in.
That may be, Surfer dude. Right now that's not important.
"Not important?" Surfer Dude asks incredulously.
You've heard the phrase "sensationalism sells?" The media thrives when there's a good story. The negative stories get more ratings than the positive stories. The "boring" stories. When the media throws out a story pushing fear, people are more likely to watch. That's something we need to grow out of as a culture, but we're not there yet. News programs need to make money and they push the fear. My point being that the media has plenty of motivation to lie regardless of conspiracies, and most of us realize it.
“The media is run by the government through a small handful of corporations.” Surfer Dude insists.
We're trying to find common ground, Surfer Dude. Most people scoff at anything conspiracy. Besides, the important thing isn't why the media does it. The important part is that it's what the media does. Hopefully people can compare and find the truth here beyond the bias. What we’re going to focus on are the lies, and the spin. (The “spin” being when an argument is laid out with a heavy bias.)
Most people see two main camps in the news. “The conservative news,” and “the truth.” The thing is, most of the media definitely pushes the “left wing agenda.” I can’t say it’s intentional, but it’s there. It’s easy for us to overlook bias when that bias matches our own. If we start looking for the ways in which a certain view is displayed, it’s easy to see.
When a shooting happens, the media tells the story with a flourish that's frightening. They use buzz words and criticize the "big scary weapons." If you're an educated gun owner, it's easy to see the weapons being pushed as dangerous aren't even really the big dangerous ones. Just the ones that are easy scape goats. Usually the ones that look impressive. “Tactical weapons.” It works because those of us who don’t know much about guns are trusting the authority figures to understand the details. The problem is, if they do, it doesn’t show.
What about this gun makes it more dangerous?
There's a high level of misinformation out there consistently trying to make guns look bad because people fear them. I talked about this in the article about fear (https://hubpages.com/politics/Guns-VS-Gun-Control-Why-I-Hate-Guns-and-Gun-Control-Part-III-Fear). This level of fear mongering doesn't help. It does exactly the opposite. Just as rhetoric about gay people spreading disease used to be a big problem in our society, misinformation about guns is now. Without some clarity and an honest discourse about guns, gun owners will never take gun control seriously.
I have a video linked here with a guy talking about guns with passersby. The point is, people are listening to the news media and not doing their own research. The media has people who don't know what they're talking about, teaching other people false information based only on fear.
As this video briefly shows, many of the ideas commonly held and pushed by the media, are just incorrect. There is a lack of true clarity from this push to make us live in fear. Big scary looking weapons are being ostracized and they're typically not the most dangerous weapons to begin with.
As the following video briefly shows, many of the ideas commonly held and pushed by the media, are just incorrect. There is a lack of true clarity from this push to make us live in fear. Big scary looking weapons are being ostracized and they're typically not the most dangerous weapons to begin with.
Which Guns are Most Dangerous?
We have a problem with regulations regarding background checks. The misinformation comes in the details. Federal law requires background checks on commercial sales of firearms, but doesn’t cover private sales. This means any sale that’s not done through a licensed business isn’t required by federal regulation to include a background check. Some states take that requirement upon themselves. Many people seem to believe there are absolutely no background checks required on the sales of firearms at all. It’s partly due to simple ignorance, but it’s also partly due to the fear mongering by news outlets and politicians. The narrative is to push the idea that background checks are not happening, without clarifying the details.
This fallacy is so common people believe we can buy a firearm without showing ID. There's a meme floating around claiming it's easier to buy a gun than allergy medication. It's a cute comparison if the intent is exaggeration, but people believe it's true. Buying a firearm from a store isn't as easy as people think. Try it.
The truth is, most gun owners also support background checks on all sales. So why don’t we have them? Good question. The only answer I’ve found is politics.
What is a magazine?
I've heard some confusion about what a magazine is. In one interview I heard a politician was talking about banning high capacity magazines. She said "we don't need to confiscate what people already own," she continued, "once the bullets are fired, they'll eventually run out and there won't be anymore high capacity magazines left."
If you know even a little bit about firearms, this lack of knowledge is so ridiculous it’s frightening.
The image above shows a magazine for a hand gun. Hopefully, you can see it's not a consumable package of ammo. It's the device you load ammo into for use with a firearm. Once the bullets are spent, you remove the magazine, refill it, and slide it back in to the gun. This kind of misunderstanding is part of why gun owners don't respect gun control enthusiasts. Misinformation is spread, and decisions are made based on this ignorance.
For contrast, a revolver (pictured below) is a hand gun with a cylinder loaded with ammo. They most commonly hold six bullets. There are two basic types of revolvers. Some are single action. When you fire the gun, you pull back the hammer, which rotates the cylinder, moving a new bullet into place. When you pull the trigger, the hammer releases and hits the back of the bullet. Once the cylinder is empty, you reload. Double action revolvers don’t require you to pull back the hammer, it can rotate via trigger pull.
What About Magazine Capacity?
"No one needs a 30 round magazine."
No, they don't. But try loading a magazine with ten or less shots. Then try doing it several times over while you are out hunting or doing target practice and have less space to load the magazine in. What size drink to you have? 64 oz? Holy crap. No one needs that much soda at once! It's not a matter of need so much as want or convenience. Frankly, if you're hunting and need a 30 round magazine, you should think about taking up a new sport. If you're competing in a target competition, or just practicing, 30 rounds is incredibly convenient. As a society, we're all about making things more convenient.
We all have a different measure of exposure of how and why to use firearms. If you take the narrative of the media and anti gun politicians, it seems any guns are too many. If you want more than one weapon, you are classed as a dangerous terrorist.
No one needs a thirty round magazine. Is that a good enough reason to confiscate someone’s personal property or limit what one is able to buy? Maybe, but a serious conversation and understanding is needed. Pretending such a desire is only for criminals alienates anyone who considers firearms recreational for any reason. This is no way to work together, only a way to fight.
What is a Semi-Automatic Weapon?
This debate over semi-automatic weapons is accompanied by such a huge degree of misunderstanding, gun owners are not just perplexed, but disgusted.
The narrative from the media right now is that semi-automatic weapons fire bullets in such a rapid succession, it's completely unnecessary, and dangerous. There's even obscurity over how many bullets a semi-automatic can hold, as though being a semi-automatic also means high capacity magazines. If you're not familiar with firearms, it's easy to be confused with so many people sharing information that's completely incorrect. People actually believe a semi-automatic weapon fires more than one round with a single squeeze of a trigger, or that you can squeeze the trigger and the gun will continually fire. This is simply not true.
A “semi-automatic” weapon is a gun that can shoot one bullet per trigger pull. That's it. That’s all it means. You must pull the trigger for each bullet you fire (similar to a double action revolver). What makes it "semi-automatic" is that you don't have to pull back a hammer, bolt, lever, or other mechanism to ready the weapon before firing it again. Rifles, pistols, and even shotguns have semi automatic versions. Pull the trigger once, one bullet fires and the gun is ready to fire once more.
The AR-15 pictured above (center of the image) is at the center of a lot of misinformation. The idea that the AR-15 is the exact same gun as the M-16 military rifle is being pushed. Again, this is not true. It is a subtle distinction as the design is very similar. An M-16 is a effectively a militarized version of the AR-15. The biggest difference being that an M-16 is fully automatic (meaning you can squeeze the trigger continually and the weapon will continue to fire). As I said, it’s a subtle distinction, but an important one. If a weapon being fully automatic is the grounds for it being illegal, calling these two the same thing is not only ignorant, but dangerously so.
For a quick comparison: It would be like saying a car that tops out at sixty miles per hour is the same as a car that can go three hundred miles per hour. We have limiters on vehicles, for a similar reason automatic weapons are illegal.
How Many Guns are Too Many?
When I first started paying attention to this debate more than a decade ago, I saw a news story on TV. The story was talking about the police storming into a guys house. I don't remember the full story. The part that stands out is the guy had "a huge cache of weapons." Total there were six guns. Where I grew up, that wasn't a huge cache at all. In fact, that was barely the "minimum needed" for a farmer.
The farmer's short list:
1. A shotgun for home protection (12 Gauge).
2. A shotgun for small game hunting. (20 Gauge)
3. A rifle for big game hunting.
4. A sporting rifle (usually a .22)
5. A hand gun for the car/truck.
6. A hand gun for concealed carry.
7. A hand gun placed conveniently for home protection.
Anything less was under-prepared, and that's if you live alone. Aside of the list, most households also had a rifle from "grandpa's tour in the military." With a family, more guns for more people to use at once. A sporting rifle per person, and multiples of everything else are common. To me, and to most gun owners I know, this "huge cache of guns" talk sounded like nothing more than fear mongering and made us wonder who was next.
Everyone else typically had at least a hand gun and or shotgun and a rifle. What's more, there were very few accidents and the crime rate was almost non-existent.
How many guns are too many? I feel the answer is subjective. It seems those who fear guns feel one is too many.
“Armor piercing hollow point bullets.”
Ammunition is grossly misunderstood. This phrase is tantamount to “razor sharp butter knife” or “fully charged dead battery.” It is an especially incredible oxymoron. A phrase that combines two elements that not only don’t go together, but cannot go together. Much like “fully semi-automatic” it’s used to confuse people who don’t know better.
A hollow point bullet is squishy. It does damage to soft tissue because it breaks on impact. By very nature, it is something that cannot pierce any armor. Yet on TV, in the news, and from people who just don’t know about guns, I hear hollow point ammo referenced as armor piercing. This is simply a lie. A few days ago, I was watching Arrow on TV and that was a major plot point on the show. Amusingly, the same “armor piercing bullets” couldn’t pass through a couch. Chock it up to TV inconsistencies, but still the misconception is there and held to with ignorant fervor.
Whether or not hollow point ammo should be restricted, the misinformation doesn’t help.
The term “assault rifle” appears to be coined by firearm companies. It’s a powerful sounding phrase. There is no clear definition associated with the term though. It’s used to describe simple rifles with impressive looking designs, as well as guns that are truly dangerous military grade weapons. The obscurity in definition is used to scare people. This misconception is so wide spread at this point, I’ve witnessed people thinking a BB gun is more dangerous than a high caliber rifle because of it’s looks. The fear of cosmetic design has become a driving force in the weapons ban conversation. When a BB gun is vilified as more dangerous than a nine millimeter pistol (yes, I've witnessed exactly that), it’s no wonder gun owners are concerned about ignorance.
Politicians on both sides of this debate seem far more focused on getting votes and far less focused on truth or progress. “The left” says things like “let’s not make this political” and then proceeds to make the situation all about politics. “Common Sense Gun Control” is sometimes sensible, but often tainted with the lies we talked about. The latest assault weapon ban includes all semi-automatic weapons, which means the vast majority of firearms today would be banned.
It’s impossible to take “Common Sense” legislation seriously, when it’s based on lies.
Gun owners have been concerned regulation would turn to taking guns away since the beginning, with gun control proponents saying that won’t happen. Now, there are politicians advocating exactly that. Up to and including, “if they won’t give up their guns, we’ll take them by force.”
“The right” seems content to fight against any initiative their opposition comes up with. It doesn’t matter how sensible it truly is, no leeway is given. No proposals are listened to. It seems they’re content to ignore any trouble with firearms and smoke screen their way through conversations.
With no communication, nothing can change.
We could go into much deeper detail on each of these subjects, but I think the point is out there. Without communication, no consensus can happen. Without approaching the topic with knowledge and truth, we will continue to sit in a stale mate. Neither side will take the other seriously, and anyone in the middle can only watch appalled.
See you in the next one (and last one, I believe).
© 2018 kwade tweeling