So now we have it on authority from none other than Rush Limbaugh that the post-Orlando calls to ban AR-15 rifles are nothing more than another attempt to use a shooting incident to disarm law-abiding Americans because – get this – the shooter in Orlando didn’t use an AR-15. And since he didn’t use an AR-15, according to Rush, there’s no earthly reason why the AR-15 should be banned from public sale.
In all the writing on guns that I have done (nearly 600 columns on my own website and nearly 200 columns on Huffington Post), nothing enrages the Gun Nut Gang more than when I use the term ‘assault rifle’ in talking about AR-15s or, for that matter, anything else. Because the ‘assault rifle’ has become something of a sacred totem in Gun Nut-land since it’s a way of quickly figuring out whether someone is in favor or opposed to guns.
According to legend, i.e., the totally fictitious story created by the NSSF and circulated by the NRA, the term ‘assault rifle’ was invented by one of America’s chief gun grabbers, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was the chief author of the 1994 law that temporarily banned certain types of rifles which should have been and are now once again allowed to be owned by so-called ‘law-abiding’ gun owners. Sooner or later I’ll get deeper into the issue of what ‘law-abiding’ means or should mean, but for the moment let’s just say that if you are against ‘assault rifles,’ this makes you a bone-fide member of the gun-grabbing contingent, because everyone knows that it’s against the law to own an assault rifle, and gun owners are all law-abiding folks.
Why is it against the law to own an assault rifle? Because according to legend, an assault rifle is a full-auto weapon, it keeps on firing with only one pull of the trigger, whereas all those look-a-like assault rifles are plain, old semi-automatic guns, one shot each time you pull the trigger, which have been around since God knows when. Which is what makes an AR-15 a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ which means that it’s no different from any other ‘sporting’ rifle except that it’s more ‘modern’ because it looks like a modern military gun.
This is all total nonsense, by the way. The fact is (note the use of the word ‘fact’) that the military uses what is referred to as a ‘selective fire’ gun, which means that it can be shot full-auto, semi-auto or three-shot bursts. But the fact (there’s that word again) that fighting men and women have the option of using their battle weapon in semi-auto mode should tell you that one trigger pull, one shot, is an acceptable and often necessary way for how the military gun will be used.
If it were the case that today’s standard military rifle, now known as the M4, could only be fired as a full-auto weapon, then perhaps Gun Nut Nation’s anger over the alleged misrepresentation of the AR-15 as being an ‘assault weapon’ would have some basis in truth. But when the NSSF says, for example, that an assault rifle can only be fired in full-auto mode, they are talking about a military weapon that is no longer being used by the military at all. To follow their logic and their distortion of the facts (there’s that word again,) the NSSF would have to say that when a soldier selects semi-auto, he’s now carrying a modern sporting rifle into the field. Carrying what?
The truth (another dangerous word) is that the folks who create talking-points for Rush Limbaugh and all the other apologists for gun violence don’t really care whether a gun shoots one shot or one hundred shots every time the trigger is pulled; what they care about is that Gun Nation doesn’t stop buying guns. And the one way that would make it most difficult for people to buy guns is the simplest way of all: get rid of the guns.