All Guns are Machine Guns, Right?
July 9, 2003
Much of the steam that is left in the drive to ban semi-automatic firearms seems to be fueled by a massive confusion of terms.
The media has at times intentionally tried to mislead, at other times, the errors may have resulted from ignorance and confusion. The media takes itself very seriously, yet the best defense for them is ignorance. No wonder so many of the public are confused.
The Clinton/Feinstein gun ban of 1994 affected guns frequently referred to as military-style assault weapons. What would peaceful citizens want with war guns?
First of all, the founders of our country wanted the citizenry to be armed with the same firearms that every soldier would have. The Militia Act of 1792 said that every military-eligible male had to own a military rifle, military ammo, and have it at home. This is a far cry from the National Guard whose members use government rifles, government ammo and leave it all with the government when they go home.
Peaceful citizens should own military, fully automatic assault rifles because peaceful citizens are part of the constitutional system of homeland security called the militia.
The 1994 gun ban, however, has nothing to do with fully automatic military assault rifles. It deals with semi-automatic firearms, which fire only one bullet for each trigger pull. They are not used by a single military in the world.
If you watched CNN recently, you would have seen a lie concocted by John Zarella of CNN and Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne. The Sheriff fired a fully automatic machine gun and identified it as one of the weapons banned in 1994. Flat out not true. CNN subsequently “clarified” its report.
A recent Doonesbury cartoon has the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre testifying thusly: “Freedom means the right to bear automatic weapons! It would be the height of hypocrisy to deny the Iraqis the same sacred liberty that Congress is poised to restore to its own citizens.”
Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau is wrong on two counts. The gun ban that is about to expire is a ban on semi-automatics, not machine guns.
Moreover, contrary to Trudeau’s opinion, Iraqis are allowed by the American administration to own fully automatic machine guns, let alone, mere semi-automatics.
A better presentation of the situation would have been to have depict a gun rights advocate asking Congress to repeal the semi-automatic ban along with all restrictions on real machine guns - for Americans, and not just Iraqis. Americans should be put on a par with the Iraqis!
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated recently that Baghdad is safer than is Washington DC. Media attention to the ideologically motivated targeting of American and British troops obscures what is not reported - the low incidence of murder in Baghdad.
Of course, we have the same problem in he United States. Media coverage of murder during the last decade rose 500 percent, yet the murder rate declined almost 50 percent. Many Americans believed that crime was out of control, when in fact, quite the opposite was the case.
If we get the ban on semi-automatics lifted, we still have work to do. Hopefully, one day the citizens of the victorious country will have as much freedom as the citizens of the defeated country!
© 2003 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved
Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.
GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA's work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.
Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC's Today Show, CBS' Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil Donahue show and many others. He has debated Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.
He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.
Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.
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