Let’s Stop Being Pedantic About Assault Weapons

A few days ago, 49 people were killed at a gay club. They were targeted for no other reason than they were gay or they chose to hang out with the gays. I regularly associate with gays, consider them among my closest friends, and do not believe homosexuality is a sin, much less one punishable by death. While hanging out with them in years past, I have seen homophobic individuals make specific threats against their lives for no other reason than they were, by appearance or inference, homosexual – and because I was hanging out with them, against my life too.

I think this is a real problem which can only be solved by a change in attitude towards gay people. I see a glimmer of hope for the future in that none of the boys in the Scout troop I work with seem to care one whit about sexual orientation and how it pertains to a person’s character, even if they come from very conservative families with parents who openly express different viewpoints.

I do not think this is a problem which can be solved by an assault weapons ban, magazine capacity restrictions, or other proposed legislation currently being discussed in the national media and by those on the left side of the political spectrum. Therefore I believe efforts must be put into not only stopping such legislation but into passing legislation that might have a real effect on reducing the frequency and impact of spree killings.

It is my firm belief that squabbling over the definition of an assault weapon not only does nothing to prevent the passage of an assault weapons ban, but is slowly becoming beneficial to the other side in this debate. If all we can do is point out that a long time ago someone in the gun world decided to define an assault weapon as a machine gun, acting as if that magically renders moot any calls for an assault weapons ban because the rifles in my safe are only semi automatic, not full automatic, those pushing for a ban can easily – and rightfully – say that we’re only arguing semantics.

One of these is an "assault weapon," and two are not. Or two are, and one is not. I can't remember and I don't care.
One of these is an “assault weapon,” and two are not. Or two are, and one is not. I can’t remember and I don’t care.

I have argued against similar word re-definitions in the past – most notably the “Modern Sporting Rifle” silliness and the magazine vs. clip debacle. Now I come to you, gun owner, with my hat in my hand, begging you to respond to calls for gun control with logic and facts instead of huffing and puffing about an incredibly silly and shortsighted pedantic argument.

Voters who support these types of legislation don’t care what they’re called, they just want them gone. We aren’t going to convince them they shouldn’t be gone by telling them they’re stupid and don’t know what they’re talking about. All they know is a dozen people here, four dozen people there, and “why do you need an assault rifle?”

We can answer that question effectively and we can prevent an assault weapons ban. However, you will only have someone’s attention for a brief period of time, and if you squander that time reciting the technical definition of an assault rifle you will have accomplished nothing.

47 thoughts on “Let’s Stop Being Pedantic About Assault Weapons”

  1. I’d like to agree that speaking to the anti-gunners politely and calmly would have an effect, I can’t.

    Not this time around.

    This time around, they are rabid about reinstating the AWB.

    They are so rabid about it that they are ignoring the facts of this mass shooting.

    It’s tragic.

    Misguided people so brainwashed that they are begging to give up rights now.

  2. I want to also add, that I believe our chances would be better educating the anti-gun members of the LGBT community than these are rabid misinformed progressive morons.


    Because it’s my opinion that the progressive left only used the LGBT community as a stepping stone for votes.

    They wined them, dined them, and 69’d them up until this tragedy and then ran away from them because they didn’t want to offend Islam.

    This is my opinion.

    1. It is sadly common for people to do this so they show that they are enlightened more than the unwashed masses that do not accept such lifestyles.

      It IS still ok to look unfavorably upon homosexuality, and NOT be any less educated, or socially holy. It isn’t like WE are the ones out there shooting them up either. So you are happy that children have come to accept them, fantastic. Perhaps another 20 years they won’t be afraid of pedophiles, necrophiles, and/or those who engage in beastiality. What a brave new world!

      1. If you can lump gays in with pedophiles, I can lump “people who don’t accept the gay lifestyle” with people who murder gays.

      2. “Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.
        (To such heights of evil are men driven by religion.)
        -Lucretius, De Rerum Natura”
        – as quoted from Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

    2. If the topic is attacks on people because of their sexual orientation, then the fact that I’ve seen threats made on my friends and even myself just because my friends were gay is very relevant.

      1. The topic here is not attacks on people because of their sexual orientation.

        This topic is one gun owner berating other gun owners over semantics.

          1. If the topic was something that is only used to attack homosexuals, then you’d have a point. I seem to recall people that are not homosexuals being shot, and the government and their media tools using that as ballast for their attack in assault weapons too.

          2. This is your title: “Let’s Stop Being Pedantic About Assault Weapons”

            This is your topic sentence: “It is my firm belief that squabbling over the definition of an assault weapon not only does nothing to prevent the passage of an assault weapons ban, but is slowly becoming beneficial to the other side in this debate.”

            Your topic is certainly NOT homophobia.

            I love your blog, and I 100% agree with your topic sentence. I just found your opening paragraphs to be ironic. The ol’ “I have a friend who is…” political correctness eggshell walk is a played-out trope, if we’re being honest about ourselves.

          3. The last time you commented here, substantively at least, was three years ago, in which you argued with me over similar very minor and irrelevant details, going so far as to try to tell me exactly what kind of blogger I was (“Editorial” in case you’ve forgotten), and what I should and shouldn’t write about as a result. Prior to that, you attempted to correct me over sentence structure because mine didn’t suit your political views.

            Now you’re trying to argue with me over exactly what the topic of an article was…an article I wrote! It seems that you just enjoy commenting that I’m doing this whole blogging thing wrong for arbitrary reasons known only to you. In fact, I’d go so far as to describe your behavior in both instances as the straight-out-of-the-dictionary definition of pedantic. Perhaps my use of that word struck a nerve?

            Not a single one of your comments, going back to the beginning of records available to me, could be construed as in any way positive, leading me to believe that your statement that you “love” the blog might be a bit of a stretch. I think I have a fairly good handle on what I write about. You are welcome to start your own blog and talk about whatever it is you wish.

          4. If you’d spend as much time on your prep as you do deleting comments, maybe your readers could have a fairly good handle on it, too.

          5. Must have been a browser cache issue on my end. I’m sorry for trolling you about comment deletion.

    3. You sadly don’t know what the word pedantic means. Maybe google it first next time before making a fool of yourself, sweetheart

  3. Ah, youth…

    The main reason for being pedantic about these terms is remembering 1994 when our cavalier usage of them got us 10 years of assault weapon ban with the anti-gunners using our own words against us.

    We’d rather not repeat the same mistakes from before is all.

    Besides, we’re going to have to be pedantic about something when talking about these guns with our opponents, why not start with and stick to the correct terminology? If nothing else, it forces them to react to us rather than we to them.

    1. Terminology and definitions matter. But it should not be the bedrock of the debate.

      We don’t ban rifles that look scary when less than 1% of the users are bad actors. Much like we didn’t register and quarantine (i.e. confiscate) gay men during the height of an actual epidemic that killed millions.
      Instead we used education and outreach.

  4. Spot-on again Andrew. With very few exceptions, pointing out a technical error seldom changes someone’s mind in an argument. The thing we can (almost) all agree on is that the way certain groups feel and react to other groups is not acceptable. Unfortunately, some of those groups cite their religion as their justification for how they feel/act. It seems important to me that we remind the non-gun community that we are on the same side of this fight.

  5. The left does not care about semantics nor much else beyond imposing their will on the rest of us who do not share their worldview.
    The way to fight such people is to not give an inch on whatever battleground they have chosen, from semantics on. There is no enlightened, measured way to fight the left. None. They will not stop until they get everything they want and then they will invent new things.

    1. Left wing, right wing, chicken wing.

      Trump supports restricting people on the ‘terrorist watch list/no-fly list’ from purchasing firearms. A law allowing this would give agencies carte blanche to restrict any citizen they didn’t like from legally obtaining a firearm, without any due process whatsoever.

      Both sides wish to piss our rights away. Do not make the mistake of thinking otherwise.

  6. I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to regulate citizens’ arms in any way, and the point of a Constitution at all was to prevent the violation of individual liberty and rights in the face of inflamed passions. It matters not how many are demanding it, it matters not what we call them, whether assault weapons or gollyflumpers. They’re arms, and the government can’t do squat. Attempts to do so are illegal, enforcement is a crime defensible by whatever means are made necessary to repel it. Discussing the issue in a context that the government may do otherwise at all is counterproductive, lending legitimacy to a concept that has none.

    1. Dude, I’m trying to make gun owners seem rational and logical. This approach will get you ignored as a lunatic 100% of the time.

  7. I think this is a fair point, but it is also worth remembering that the original intended use of the term “assault weapon” was to deliberately confuse semi auto and full auto rifles in the public imagination.

    IMO, the best way to address this is simply to state that there are only aesthetic differences, then move on to the fact that rifles are rarely used in crime, and none of the proposed legislation would have stopped this. Importantly, one should also offer solutions (to counteract the “do something” response), such as more CCW, the FBI & ATF doing their jobs correctly, & combatting the malign influence of ISIS & radical Islamism in general.

  8. Sorry, but “targeted for no other reason”? Ah……..no. The Afgans of Mateens tribal grouping are rather famous for their indulgence in and glorification of male homosexual acts. The folks in Orlando were targeted first and foremost because they were Infidels, nonbelievers who have rejected the Prophet. Second, they were targeted because they were in a government guaranteed Gun Free Zone and therefore unable to offer armed resistance. Third, there was no armed, visible security force in place. (This is also the answer to “Why not Disney World?”.) Lastly, and here we do come to gayness as a reason, there is a stereotype of Gay=Sissy=Weakling=Coward. This is certainly not unknown in the west but it is even more true of the eastern view of the west. A Moslem, especially an Afgan Moslem, and most especially a Pathan Afgan Moslem believes that he (A Real Man.) can defeat, conquer, and at whim kill, any number of Infidel cowards. Especially, of course, when they are, as it were, staked out by their own government. The Islamic Supremacists don’t want to kill gays, they want to kill everybody on earth that is not just like them. The sooner all of us in that category, gay or not, realize it, the better.

    1. There was an off duty police officer at the club working security who emptied all three magazines (52 rounds) from his 9mm pistol at the bad guy.

  9. Andrew

    I agree in principle with your comments regarding pedantry. Generally speaking, there seems little point in correcting people over terminology. However, there is value in correcting those who make inaccurate and/or wild claims about the functionality of semi-automatic weapons, whether these people are friends/neighbors/co-workers or media talking heads and politicians. Words have meaning and words have power, and we cannot let cynical liars and idiots completely control the “conversation.” Left unconfronted they will persuade all too many of the great mass of otherwise indifferent Americans. The “progressive” Left has an agenda. They really do wish to eviscerate the Constitution, particularly the 1st and 2nd amendments (“hate speech”, firearms ownership and anything having to do with due process) and they are successful largely by appealing to emotion. They are the enemy and we ignore them at our peril (and I mean all of us, not just gun owners).

    As for your comments regarding the public’s attitude toward gays, I can speak as someone much older than you. The change in American society over the last 25 years or so has been simply remarkable, and it has been pretty much across the board by any measurement. Your personal experiences not withstanding, those who threaten violence are marginalized outliers and those who would act on those threats even more so (which may account for much of their anger). So let us not lose sight of what really happened.

    Then there are those motivated by religion. Fundamentalist Christians refuse to decorate wedding cakes for gays and fundamentalist Muslims throw them off of buildings, burn them alive and shoot them in nightclubs. And the “progressives”, including our President, have an attack of the vapors over the wedding cakes and refuse to acknowledge the violence for what it is. Obama tells us that Islamic terrorism is not to blame for Orlando, but American society is. This is not simply bullshit, it is demented. Mateen, inspired and supported by a toxic and malignant strain of Islam and facilitated by the sheer incompetence (or political correctness?) of the FBI (this story has certainly taken strange and very sad turns over the last 72 hours) killed 49 people in Orlando. To see Obama demean these people by denying the reality of their murders is repugnant to both sense and decency.

    Was this mass murder “homophobic?” There has been much chattering among the chattering classes (mass media). Of course it was. All three Abrahamic religions are to some degree “homophobic.” But Jews are no threat to gays (excepting the serial stabber in New York). While the Westboro Baptist Church may proclaim that “God hates Fags”, they have not killed anyone, nor, over the last few centuries, have the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, Unitarians and so on. On the other hand, fundamentalist Islam, whether Sunni or Shia, has. And these fanatics revel in it, glorify it. And a South florida Imam has been calling for Muslim males to kill gays as it is the “compassionate” way to deal with them. And Obama tells us that it is us. Well, it was not me nor any one I know.

    1. Yes. It’s very clear that one religion in particular (Islam), or at the very least some people who subscribe to its newsletter, is a clear threat to homosexuals. It seems to be taking a while for many of the gays to realize this.

  10. “The right to bear arms shall not be infringed,” Plain English. Constitutional law. People must be able to be armed under most circumstances in order to defend themselves. Not the opposite.

  11. The shooter wasn’t “confused about his sexuality” as media outlets suggest, he was confused about his bigotry and intolerance. Now let’s see, which media outlets promote intolerance, bigotry and guns? Why don’t we ask what TV channel the shooter was watching?

    1. The liberal “media” certainly tried to spin it didn’t they?

      I’d bet money that the liberals were praying it was a “white christian male”.

      When they found out it wasn’t, the “jilted gay rejection” was the next best thing.

      ANYTHING to avoid even remotely considering this tragedy as an act of terrorism…..because you know…..every mass shooter calls 911 and posts on facebook about their allegiance to isis……

  12. I have been thinking myself recently that the pro-gun side is disingenuous when it tries to claim that AR-15’s/”assault weapons” are not “weapons of war” like their select-fire military counterparts. The fact of the matter as I understand it that in the military, full auto is never used, or even burst for that matter, except in extremely select circumstances, by a designated person. So if the military is using semi-auto 99.8% of the time, then for all intents and purposes, an AR is exactly the same as is used in the military, and as you mentioned, one can get a fully mil-spec AR, except for the select-fire part.

  13. I’m sorry, but you’re completely wrong here.

    Unless you can accurately and articulately describe exactly what it is you mean to do with government power, you should not be allowed to use that government power. Unless we can all have some mutual understanding of exactly what will be affected by the laws you people are proposing, those laws have to be considered too vague to be taken seriously.

    Given the government’s track record with the destruction of constitutionally-guaranteed liberties with legislation that has undermined them at every point, from Bill Clinton’s 1996 anti-terrorism act to the PATRIOT Act and beyond, there is absolutely no reason to believe that there is any reason to trust this government, or any other, with loose, ambiguous laws aimed at vaguely-defined threats.

    “Assault Weapon” is not a class of weapon, or a type of weapon – it is a vague term that is meant to be vague for the very worst political reason: so that lawmakers can have a term that means whatever they wish it to mean whenever they need it to mean something.

    This is not acceptable.

    If you wish to have a debate, if you’re really interested in having a discussion, then YES, you absolutely need to know exactly what you are and are not talking about, so that others involved in the discussion can know exactly what you are and are not talking about, and can evaluate your argument based on its merits.

    But there is no scenario where any thinking individual – pro- or anti- gun – should accept the adoption of a vague term for purposes of drafting laws, essentially handing the government a blank check to abuse the intent of the law and expand its scope beyond what was originally intended. We’ve seen this happen more than once, with the government intentionally abusing vague laws regarding things such as asset forfeiture and RICO investigations; we’ve seen these types of poorly-worded laws undermine every individual right from Habeas Corpus to the 4th amendment.

    There is plenty of precedent to illustrate why insisting that you know what terms you are using and know what they mean is in the best interest of individual rights. Definitions matter, in law more than in anything else, precisely because of the tendency of those in power to abuse laws for their own ends. The antidote to this is, of course, specificity.

    And if that is not a position that you can accept at the beginning of any discussion about gun laws, do not be surprised if no one is willing to have that discussion with you.

    1. You’re missing the point entirely.

      In discussions with people who say they want to “ban assault weapons,” don’t focus on the definition, focus on whatever it is they actually want banned, and debate them on the merits of that argument.

      That’s it.

      1. I’m sorry, but it would seem to me to be all but impossible to focus on whatever it is they actually want banned if those proposing the ban cannot accurately and articulately define what it is they want banned.

        1. What you’re asking is comparable to asking for legislation that, let’s say, for instance, creates a list of “suspected terrorists” and bans them from flying on airplanes – and then leaving the definition of “suspected terrorist” open and vague, so that “suspected terrorist” can mean pretty much whatever anyone in a position of power wants it to mean, which would, of course, result in hundreds if not thousands of people being erroneously put on the list…. I mean, obviously that couldn’t happen in real life… Oh… wait…

          Definitions matter.

  14. Jason, even if we accept your opinion as accurate, what help does that provide in these circumstances? The state of CT recognizes 49 mass shootings between the Columbine event in 1999 and 2013, which in total involved 55 semi auto handguns and only 9 semi auto rifles. When you look at violent crime statistics rifles become even more rare with <300 of the 32,000 firearm deaths every year. Are you actually proposing banning something because it is too close to being military issue and therefore evil? Based on the failure of every state and federal AWB why would any rational informed human consider this anything more than political film flam and a complete waste of time.

    1. Brian, I was just pointing out what I think is a weak argument on the pro-gun side. I am aware of how rarely rifles of any type are used in crime and I didn’t and don’t propose banning anything. The fact is that what anti-gunners really don’t like is any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable mag, and if they understood that “featureless” rifles, “assault weapons” and assault rifles all do the same exact thing, they might try to ban them for civilian use, which is of course stupid. To me guns aren’t the problem, people and modern society are the problem.

  15. On the titular subject, I understand your point about not being obsessed about terminology. In my dealings with politicians and staffers, media, and random individuals , it can’t be totally ignored either.

    If I ( or most of my loosely assocated cohorts usually ) can get more than a sentence or two, I will hit such points as : Only cosmetics regarding certain rifles, functionality similar semiauto rifles with detachable magazines have been popular and common use in this country since 1905.
    The AR-15 platform is the single most popular rifle in America, is commonly used for ( long list) , and is readily adjusted for use by people of all ages, sizes, or physical handicaps.
    Rifles in total including evil black rifles are used in infinitesimal percentage of murders , or crimes generally. Specifically more people are killed by feet and bare hands than rifles, invite them to read the UCR for themselves.

    Mass Murder itself is the big issue. People planning a mass murder on purpose for terrorism or other sick purposes have lots of methods at hand, and firearms aren’t the most deadly. The worst mass murder by a single individual in this country killed 87 people with a gallon of gasoline and a match. And the situation then was very similar to the situation in Orlando.

    Jumping to the secondary topic, everyone please stop obsessing one way or the other about the attack in Orlando being at a gay club. This isn’t about gay per se. This is about a group of people that Islamic Jihadists don’t like being killed. Islamic Jihadists don’t like a whole bunch of people.

    Could just as likely be aimed at :

    Overtly Christian groups
    Overtly Jewish groups
    Women’s groups
    Any beach, swimming pool, lake, gym, etc where people wear typical swim or exercise wear
    Any gathering involving free speach or free exchange of ideas

    Pretty much anywhere or anyone not conforming to Fundimental Islamic fantasies of 14th century middle eastern village life.

  16. The Savage acted not out of hatred for Homosexuals, but because he was a Muslim that read, and believed literally what was written in his Quaran, taught at his Mosque, and spewed as fact from his hero’s ISIS and Al-Quada.

    If someone started a “Religion” based around the teachings of Adolf Hitler and espoused that Jews, and Christians should be exterminated and millions of people around the world followed and acted on their belief in this “Faith” why wouldn’t that entire group be determined to be unstable, unglued, idiots and be removed from the gene pool by force?

  17. Thank you for daring the task of telling the gun community that they are making stupid arguments. I 100% agree with you, and appreciate your attempts at reasoning with some of these guys.

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