Five fallacies about guns and violence

By James D. Agresti
July 31, 2012

In the wake of the Dark Knight massacre in Aurora, Colorado, major media outlets and public figures have been making statements about guns and violence that do more to misinform than educate. Below are some of the most significant and common of these misleading assertions.

Fallacy # 1: Violence is a growing challenge

The Los Angeles Times published an article by Michael Memoli that begins by claiming that “President Obama vowed Wednesday night to ‘leave no stone unturned’ in seeking ways to curb the growing challenge of violence in American cities, including reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.”

The White House transcript shows that Obama didn’t say there was a growing challenge of violence in our cities, and rightfully so, because violence in the U.S. has been falling—not growing. For example, from 1990 to 2010 (latest FBI data), the nationwide murder rate dropped by 49% (see graph below). Furthermore, preliminary data for 2011 indicates that there were 1.9% fewer murders than in 2010, which saw the lowest murder rate in 45 years.

Fallacy # 2: Congress opposes banning military weapons

At a campaign event, President Obama stated that

steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in Congress … particularly when it touches on the issues of guns. … [A] lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals—that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.

On the contrary, the AK-47s used on the “battlefield of war” are already banned. As detailed in the book Military Technology, the AK-47s used by the military are fully automatic weapons—otherwise known as machine guns—which can continuously fire bullets as long as the trigger is pulled. Federal law has strictly regulated such guns since 1934, and as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives explains, a 1968 law expanded the definition of what constitutes a machine gun, and a 1986 law outright banned the transfer or possession of machine guns except for those grandfathered under previous law.

The AK-47s that Obama wants to ban are semi-automatic guns that look like military weapons, but their inner workings are essentially the same as common guns owned by law-abiding citizens. Regardless of their appearance, semi-automatic guns fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, not a stream of bullets like a machine gun. External features (such as a protruding pistol grip, bayonet mount, and folding stock) were devised for functional reasons in machine guns, but these features generally don’t add to the deadliness of their semi-automatic look-alikes.

On the other hand, Obama’s statement is applicable to the fact that there is opposition in Congress to banning large capacity ammunition magazines, which can make semi-automatic guns more deadly because the shooter can consecutively fire more bullets without having to swap out a magazine, which takes about two to four seconds. Magazines that hold more than ten bullets were banned by a federal law from 1994-2004 with an exception for devices “lawfully possessed” before the law was enacted.

Among the three weapons used by the gunman in Aurora, Colorado, one had a 100-bullet magazine, which may have enabled him to get off more shots in less time, but this is presently uncertain because the gun apparently jammed. Nevertheless, whatever the facts of this incident prove to be, despite the President’s rhetoric, this was not a weapon that is “in the hands of soldiers.”

Fallacy # 3: The Colorado shooter used an assault rifle

Commentaries and articles published by the New York Times, NPR, Newsmax, USA Today, and countless other media outlets asserted that the Colorado gunman used an “assault rifle.” This is patently untrue. An assault rifle, as explained by the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, is a “rifle that is capable of being fired in fully automatic and semi-automatic modes, at the user’s option.”

Again, the gunman did not use a firearm that can be fired in fully automatic mode. Instead, he used an “assault weapon,” which per the AP Stylebook, is strictly “semi-automatic” and is “not synonymous with assault rifle.” This confusing distinction in terms is not by accident. The term “assault weapon,” which sounds like a synonym for “assault rifle,” was introduced into the gun control debate in the 1980′s and popularized with the expressed intent of confusing the public into thinking that certain semi-automatic guns are machine guns.

To wit, a search for “assault weapon” through Google Book produces no results that use this term in its modern context before 1988. In 1988, however, a gun control group published a booklet describing how the “new topic” of “assault weapons” will “strengthen the handgun restriction lobby for the following reasons:”

… The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. …

The rest is history. Numerous politicians, journalists, activists, and commentators began using the term “assault weapon,” and in 1994, it was enshrined in a federal law. As Josh Sugermann, the author of the gun control pamphlet and the founder of the Violence Policy Center had hoped, the resultant confusion has been pervasive. Even the Associated Press—despite the instructions in its own stylebook—sometimes uses terms that are either technically inaccurate (like semiautomatic assault rifle) or that can easily feed the false impression that certain semi-automatic guns are machine guns (like military-style assault weapons).

The New York Public Library Writer’s Guide to Style and Usage states that “a writer should use jargon only when necessary and define it carefully. Where plain English serves equally well, it should be used instead.” This standard can be satisfied with a simple descriptor such as “semi-automatic rifle.” If the gun is equipped with a large capacity magazine, this is also pertinent and worthy of note, but beyond that, the superficial appearance of a semi-automatic gun is typically immaterial to how deadly it is.

Fallacy # 4: States with strict gun-control laws have less gun-related deaths

A Washington Post op-ed by Ezra Klein and a New York Times house editorial both affirmed that states with strict gun-control laws have less gun-related deaths. To support this claim, both cite an analysis by Richard Florida in The Atlantic.

The first problem with this analysis is that it characterizes states as having “stricter gun control legislation” if they have one of three gun laws in place: “assault weapons’ bans, trigger locks, or safe storage requirements.” Since trigger locks are a type of safe-storage requirement, this boils down to only two laws. By using this arbitrary method to identify states with strict gun control laws, more than half the states that meet this standard turn out to be right-to-carry states, which as a rule permit citizens to carry concealed firearms in public. Ironically, the Violence Policy Center uses right-to carry laws as a criterion to identify states with “weak gun laws.”

Second, even if we blindly accept such a haphazard classification system, the result of the analysis is meaningless because it measures only firearm deaths instead of all deaths. Hence, it accounts for murders committed with guns but fails to account for lives saved with guns (more on this below). The analysis also labors under an implicit assumption that suicides committed with guns would not be committed by any means simply because an assault weapons ban or safe storage law were not in place. This is questionable given that an analysis of firearms studies published in 2005 by the National Academies of Science concludes:

Some gun control policies may reduce the number of gun suicides, but they have not yet been shown to reduce the overall risk of suicide in any population.

Fallacy # 5: Guns are rarely used for self-defense

In a commentary published by CNN, David Frum, a CNN contributor and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, asserted that

a gun in the house is not a guarantee of personal security — it is instead a standing invitation to family tragedy. The cold dead hands from which they pry the gun are very unlikely to be the hands of a heroic minuteman defending home and hearth against intruders. They are much more likely to be the hands of a troubled adolescent or a clumsy child.

Like many issues in the field of social science, the question of how often guns are used for self-defense is surprisingly complicated. In the words of the above-cited National Academies of Science study, the

data on defensive gun uses are … potentially error ridden. Without reliable information on the prevalence of defensive gun use, researchers are forced to make implausible and unsubstantiated assumptions about the accuracy of self-reported measures of resistance.

However, when counting only the bare minimum of defensive gun uses implied by the most rigorous surveys, the number of defensive gun uses far exceeds the number of violent crimes committed with guns.

For example, anti-gun researcher David McDowall and others conducted a major survey of defensive gun use that was published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology in 2000. The authors did not take their survey results to their logical conclusions by using the common practice of weighting them, but when one does this to find what the results would be for a nationally representative survey sample, the results imply that U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year. This figure accounts only for “clear” cases of defensive gun use and is based upon a weighting calculation designed to minimize defensive gun uses.

Likewise, when one minimizes the defensive gun uses from a survey conducted by pro-gun researchers Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz that was published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology in 1995, the results imply at least 1,029,615 defensive gun uses per year. For comparison, based upon survey data from the U.S. Department of Justice, roughly 436,000 violent crimes were committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun in 2008.

Fallacies abound

Public confusion regarding gun control and violence stems not only from the press but also from papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Under the guise of sophistication, academics can tinker with classifications, statistical methods, and other variables until they get the results they want. This is not to accuse most researchers of doing this, but to point out that this has happened on countless occasions, and it thus makes sense to examine raw data before it is subjected to statistical operations that open the doors to bias. For reams of such raw data, visit www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp.

46 thoughts on “Five fallacies about guns and violence

  1. It is disingenuous to say that classification of semiautomatic weapons that look like assault weapons as assault weapons is wrong. Anyone with a fourth grade level of literacy can locate specific instructions on the conversion of, for example, an AK 47 from a semi-automatic weapon to a fully automatic weapon and complete the conversion in less than an hour. That is absolutely no barrier to anyone who wants a fully automatic assault rifle and is unafraid of the consequences of breaking the law.

    Insofar as the use of weapons for self-defense, taking the word of the owners of firearms who claim to have used them in self-defense at face value is clearly inviting false testimony. The cited reference claims that 3.1% of people have a self-defense incident against humans in which they used a firearm each year. Yet the vast majority of people don’t have one such incident in their entire lives. The statistics just don’t make sense. Either they are the result of braggadocio or people with firearms have far more opportunities for self-defense than the rest of us.

    • Most conversions I’ve seen were hack jobs that weren’t fit for anything and relagated the weapon to scrap; just because the instructions are out their doesn’t make it easy or effective for the lay person to do. And law abiding folks steer clear of crap like this, you make an auto, you are a felon…….it just doesn’t happen like that and you don’t see the streets littered with automatic weapons…..unless you buy into the liberal media crap that fills the air.

      I’m not saying this is the case with this report, but if the libs can pull facts our of the air to support thier agenda then wouldn’t if be fair fight fire with fire? Most of the arguments for more gun control come from people that are too simple minded to get that the problem with violence is much deeper than the availablility of guns. Remove them and we’re all helpless sheep to criminals and the government, which is why we have the second amendment right to begin with….not about hunting……not about self defense…….all about providing the population (at least those who still have balls) to rise up against an oppressive government.

      The next 10 years will be quite telling……for all of us.

    • I’m sorry bud but you are off base. If said forth grader had access to a machine shop and some time, he MIGHT get a safe full auto out of a modern AKM import, but more than likely he would just get a gun that would blow up when he went to rip off a mag.

      But really who cares?
      Safety isn’t the issue here, freedom is. To argue for a “safe” society is to argue for one that is enslaved. Freedom brings risks including the risk of death. Firearms of all sorts easily available to the civilian population is the only way to ensure that freedom is maintained and passed from one generation to the other.

      Gun control isn’t about guns, its about control.

    • Conversions arent as easy as you would make them seem and why do a conversion ? There are many places in my town where criminals can pick up what ever they want when ever they want. When i managed a apartment complex in a less than upscale area..I had a guy come up to me one day and tell me that they didnt have any money this month to pay rent and would i take his Tech9 as payment? you think he got it legaly ?????? The next month I had to evict a 3bdrm worth of crack heads. Before I could the police raided the apartment They pulled out a load of weapons. Do you think those were aquired legaly????? Fools that belive gun bans will remove weapons from the streets are just that FOOLS

      • Thank you for the brilliant “real life” example! These are the exact points which seem to never make it through to the anti-gun movement. Just wanted to say thanks again for level setting their naive opinionated view on the subject

    • “The cited reference claims that 3.1% of people have a self-defense incident against humans in which they used a firearm each year….The statistics just don’t make sense.”

      One million defensive gun uses (assuming one use per person annually) out of a population of 300 million is 0.33%. That is one-tenth your percentage, fgbouman. Maybe that’s why the statistics didn’t make sense to you.

      However, the main point that JustFacts makes is that defensive gun uses far outnumber gun crimes and accidents. If you only count gun crimes and accidents by concealed carry permit holders, the numbers get even more favorable toward guns.

      Just because a valuable tool or safety device is sometimes misused by some people, doesn’t mean we should ban the tool or device and make the vast majority of us worse off. Fgbouman, you sound just like the people who don’t wear their seat belts because they think they heard that someone, somewhere was trapped by their belts in a burning or submerged vehicle.

      • Excellent points again!! I cannot tell you how many times I bring up this same valid argument. I suppose next they will be wanting to ban seatbelts because of the fact that they are not always 100% effective. The anti-gun movement always is looking at it from an all or nothing… black and white perspective.

    • Sounds like the lobbyists have won you over with their misinformation then. Have you ever actually tried to research and or pursue the conversion of a semi auto into an automatic weapon? Unless you have an inexhaustable checkbook the pursuit would be pointless for as the other reader has graciously pointed out, such conversions are typically subpar and render the weapon as damaged goods/scrap. Additionally, seeing that such conversions are considered illegal, those “law abiding” citizens whom are always affected by such legistlations do not attempt such practices. It is always very concerning to me that the anti gun movement is always so keen on arguing their case from a stance of such misinformation and opinion vs. actually researching and speaking to the facts.

    • Hardly disingenuous at all. Your argument is based on flawed assumption that because an opportunity presents itself, that will be the path chosen.
      For instance, I can drive my car without insurance. There’s nothing to stop me other than, as with your example, the risk of getting caught at some unknown point. But this in no way offers evidence that I have driven without insurance, or that I will do so in the future.

      As to the self-defence statistic, just as the article says about such studies, it’s important to see the raw data, otherwise your assertion is irrelevant.

    • I take exception to that. I have a master’s degree (i.e. significantly higher than 4th grade) and an AK-47. I’m currently studying gunsmithing and I have, out of curiosity, looked at instructions and schematics for converting an AK-47 into a fully automatic weapon. I can say unequivocally that you are wrong. I don’t think I could successfully convert a semi-auto AK into a full auto AK. It certainly isn’t easy and couldn’t be done without parts, a drill press and some serious chops. Are there people who could do it in an hour? I’m sure there are, but none in 4th grade.

    • A myth. Commonly spread and re-told often enough to sound like truth. (If spoken by someone who wishes it to be so, to make political points towards action, a “truthiness”)
      Either way, not true.

      Just possibly, if the imported weapon were originally manufactured as fully auto, and later converted to semi-auto only, it might be possible to drop in original parts to re-convert it. By federal law since 1986, all such imports or domestically made semi-auto clones must have been manufactured from the start as semi-auto only.
      This would mean that many parts of the frame and reciever and probably bolt would need to be re-machined as well as adding new parts.
      You’d be better off making something from scratch, which isn’t that hard if you’re a trained professional machinist/metal worker with ten$ of thousand$ of tools.
      Note that stating a willingness to do it would invite jealous scrutiny from the feds. (remember the case of Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge?)
      Possession of parts and tools to do so, as well as any slightest indication of inclination to do so would invite charges along the line of posession with constructive intent, and would land you in federal prison. After which, you’d be forever illegal to own firearms again.

    • I think you pointed out exactly why there is resistance to more gun laws. As you stated, those who want to do so and are unafraid of the consequences of breaking the law will do so. It seems you would agree that laws don’t stop those bent on violence. Furthermore, I’m not sure what you mean about numbers not adding up. if 3.1% of people have a self defense incident, that still leaves 96.9% (a vast majority) that do not. And to your last point, it may be that many people purchase/carry firearms for protection because of the area in which they live (high crime) in which case they would be presented with more opportunity for self defense. I’ve lived 30 years without ever having to use a firearm in defense and last year I used a firearm twice to defend myself. Not a single shot was fired, no one was harmed, police were called but data like that isn’t recorded.

  2. Even if all firearms in the US were confiscated and dumped into the ocean, it would only result in criminals obtaining firearms from overseas sources. Our borders are sieves — if we can’t stop drugs, how could we ever stop firearms?

    Liberals would bleat, “But, if we did…and it saved just one life…it would be worth it!”

    If we accept that argument, then why not ban swimming pools, ladders, bicycles, tricycles, and other implements or products that cause death?

    • …maybe because swimming pools, ladders, bicycles, tricycles are not by their very design, instruments to cause death. The purpose of a gun is to kill or maim.

      • For most gun owners, the purpose of a gun is either defense or target practice. And even when it comes to defense, killing and maiming are rarely necessary; most thugs are cowards and will back off when they realize their prey can defend itself.

      • poor argument but often echoed by the libs… Still, ladders, pools, cars, etc…. are inherently dangerous objects that are responsible for numerous deaths each year. Based on the Libs arguments for gun control, I think it’s time we revisit and look at controlling the ownership and use of such items. We’ll be over to your house next week to confiscate your car and make sure your ladder is only 6′ or under. Otherwise we are taking that too. Even if you have observed all safety precautions with your car and ladder, and used it only in accordance with it’s approved confines, we can’t take such risks as others out there abuse the right to own and use cars/ladders. We therefore have to take yours away too.

  3. No doubt, the so-called “gun debate” is full of misinformation, distortions, half-truths, and emotion.
    In truth, many gun manufacturers produce semi-automatic hunting rifles that fire cartridges far more potent than an AK-47. For example: Remington, Browning, Ruger, Benelli, and more offer semi-autos with calibers of .30-06, .308, 7 mm magnum, .270, .300 Winchester Magnum etc. All of these carry far more kinetic energy and killing power than an AK (and far more accuracy).
    Should we restrict, prevent, register, sales of these guns too ?

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  5. Just one comment about 100 round magazines. I understand that the press has widely reported the Aurora shooter used such a magazine but photographs show the AR-15 laying on the cement behind the theater just outside the door. The rifle seems to have a 30 round magazine attached. I supppose he could have dropped the 100 rounder and inserted the 30 rounder but that begs a couple of questions… why carry a 30 rounder when you have a 100 rounder? If he dropped the 100 rounder in the theater and exchanged it with the 30 rounder, why did he not continue using the AR-15? My theory is that initial reports were of a high capacity magazine and the first outlet reporting this had jumped to the conclusion of a 100 round magazine. I don’t believe the press nor the police have any interst in correcting such an error since it give steam to the issue of high capacity magazines.

    • drum magazine are notorious for constantly jamming. He probably bent the extractor using it, causing the shell to jam in the breach.

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  8. With all due respect if its so easy to convert a semi to a fully automatic weapon that any punk with access to the high school machine shop could do it, where are all the stories of crimes committed with converted full auto weapons? Ive seen stories of bank robberies with illegally acquired M-16′s and tech 9′s. Ive even seen stories of Mexican cartels buying US auto weapons from their own army or south Korean smugglers(who do get their fully auto guns from us or I think Belgium?)
    If there was a plague of converted AK’s out there, I think the media would be freaking out on every venue all day every day. In Boston there’s a HUGE billboard touting the evil NRA and evil gun show purchases on the pike into my workplace. Its been there for probably five years. Not one mention of converted weapons in five years of driving by that thing on my way to work.
    I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but where horrible things like aurora happen, it seems like the guy always has a semi auto or some home made bomb, ect…

  9. In Japan, the Aum Shinryko death cult bought an entire AK-47 FACTORY from the former Soviet union, and transplanted it to Japan, where they were building enough rifles to equip an army, and enough Sarin gas to destroy all surface life on earth. A gun is simply a tool…nothing more. If it cannot be bought, it can be built. Even total prohibition will fail.

  10. What we should really ban is dihydrogenoxide. A surprisingly small amount can kill. It is a leading cause of death in the United States. It is also highly addictive. It is surprising how many people in this country require this substance every single day. The withdrawal symptoms are horrific to say the least.

  11. Sorry so late; just found this site. Was searching for some stuff on mgs and such to counter O’Reilly’s pot-shots at guns and the like. Sorry if this previously sent – my system went nuts; or was it my arthritic fingers?

    Not only are fully automatic firearms in their entirety “machine-guns” (mg), but so are any firearms that can be converted – with much difficulty – by skilled operators on specialized equipment. And so is any single component solely needed for automatic operation.

    If memory serves me correctly, only two episodes of death with legally owned mgs occurred since the NFA-34. One, a homicide, could be considered by illegally “owned” mg: A cop “liberated” his unit’s mg to pop someone. Another was a suicide. All others were with illegal mgs. The most famous the North Hollywood shoot-out some years back.

    As for those of us wild west barbarian owners of legally obtained firearms, and concealed carry weapon -CCW – permits, consider this. In, as best I remember, 2010, of 460,000 CCWers, the Texas State Dept. of Justice reported – 101 crimes prosecuted!! Good lord, we are probably safer than nuns, priests and rabbis, and infants and Lab Retrievers.

    With Obama ensconced for his final four years, be alert for a bunch of anti-gun crap to barrage us. Consider for one the lapsed Feinstein Amendment and all the nutty control of such things as bayonet lugs and pistol grips: When was the last time someone was bayoneted in the commission of a crime? – when was the first?And we will continue to be bombarded by those crazy laws implemented to get around pro-gun, Second Amendment, court decisions. Already many cities – e.g. Chicago and DC – have filed ridiculous laws. This profusion of such laws is basically what was known as barratry – the use of law as a form of harrassment; frequently stirring up litigation.

    And there is talk of Obama getting us tied up in a UN treaty that could negate our Second Amendment Rights.

    Be vigilant my friends,

    GRUMPS
    Couldn’t have my grand-kids call me grand-pop, or pop-pop, and stuff; now could I?

    • to clear up your misinformation….. The CT shooter did not have an automatic weapon. Please stop perpetuating the misinformation of the media outlets. And how do you know “this all happened so fast?” Were you there? I’ll tell you why he was able to do what he did…. because he was walking into a “gun free zone” (a place we have made further vulnerable by not even allowing some mechanism of defense from these types of sick individuals). He walked into a place where all the innocent law abiding folks were completely defenseless. When do you ever hear of these perps walking into a rod and gun club or a gun store?? You don’t because they know if they go to a place that is rendered defenseless, they can achieve their sick goal/agenda.

    • and btw, contrary to your opinion, semi automatic weapons are not easy to convert. Most conversions are hack jobs, rendering the weapon useless and or completely unsafe. Further, to do such a conversion the “right” way, would cost tens of thousands, require specific registrations/permissions, and is rarely if ever pursued by the general population of gun enthusiasts.

  12. Just a note about mental health. It’s not covered well by insurance. I know this family could probably afford it, but scads cannot. The copay for some new wonder drugs is around $600 and that’s on Medicare. Also for Aspergers where kids are so destructive to themselves and others thoughts need to go in the direction of some kind of safe daycare or long term care for these folks.
    In general mental health problems need to come out of the closet.
    Y’all have a nice afternoon.

  13. @Ian fallon. Actually Ian you are eighty times more likely to be saved by a legally owned firearm than killled by one. So firearms do have a useful purpose -saving human life.

  14. I am all in favor of strict gun laws and the absolute infringement and or destruction of my constitutional rights. However; I would like all my constitutional right to be stepped on, so if they are going to take my weapons, they better take away my rights to a lawyer. Miranda should be squashed as well and thrown out the window. I mean heck how great would it be to be a cop and get to follow the same rules as the bad guys. Take him into a room, water board him for a bit, beat the crap out of him and wallah, problem solved. Freedom of speech. Next time someone burns the American flag and I pull out a 6″ K-Bar knife and gut him, I’m covered, because that is no longer a freedom that is protected. And for all the liberal questions like, “Why do you need an assault rifle?” Well I don’t need one. Just like you don’t need to live in a 5000 square foot house with just you and your wife and your Audi R8 and her Range Rover. Oh and by the way, I actually do hunt with an AR style rifle. I kill pigs with mine, you know the ferule kind that cost farmers in America millions. Yeah reason why is because they usually travel in large packs, they’re pretty mean, and a bolt action isn’t fast enough when they are running at you attempting to tear you to pieces. Any other questions???

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  17. Just found this website, this is what i have been looking for. Hard evidence with links to studies. Thank you for making this site.

  18. Great website…..the facts surrounding guns and gun violence are such an inconvenient obstacle and irritant to those that oppose legal possession….

  19. Gents -
    I’ve only just found your site, and I find it refreshing! I’ll probably be perusing this for a while to come. I especially like the fact that you don’t seem to draw a conclusion BEFORE you start writing – the few articles I’ve read so far present a /tablua/ /rasa/ upon which facts are laid, and the conclusion drawn sometime later.

    A couple of stylistic points, if I may, WRT firearms:
    - A “bullet” is the projectile that leaves the barrel of the firearm when discharged. However, even when using caseless ammunition, a “bullet” is not loaded alone – it is accompanied by propellant and primer – and either a case in which the assembly is contained (traditional ammunition) or not (caseless ammunition, as Voere (sp?).) Therefore, citing a magazine as holding “bullets” is a misnomer – it holds “ammunition” or “rounds of ammunition” – which may be shortened to “rounds” and still maintain semantic accuracy.
    - “Assault rifle” is a term derived from German arms in WWII – the /Sturmgeweher/ series of rifles. DoD later codified the definition of “assault rifle” as being: a rifle, intermediate in caliber between a pistol and a full rifle (effectively, between .45ACP and .308 in ballistic energy) which is capable of firing in a semiautomatic mode (one round per trigger pull) or in a burst fire (multiple rounds per trigger pull, typically fixed at three or four) and/or a full-automatic fire mode (may discharge the entire magazine with one trigger pull.) Note that a minimum of three firing modes (SAFE/SEMI/BURST &/or AUTO) MUST be, by definition, present in order for a firearm to be considered an “assault rifle.” If a firearm is ONLY capable of FULL AUTOMATIC fire, it is a “machine gun” – regardless of caliber fired. (My apologies for the caps – it’s the only easy way to provide emphasis in plaintext. Not many people understand “IRC emphasis” anymore.) It should be noted, therefore, that an “assault rifle” is a CLASS of machine gun, just as a “machine pistol” (e.g. the Skorpion produced by Czechoslovakia) is a CLASS of machine gun.
    - “Assault weapon.” As used by the press, this term is semantically null. An “assault weapon” is not a firearm – it is, essentially, ANY OBJECT OR DEVICE USED TO THREATEN HARM TO, OR CAUSE HARM UPON, ANOTHER. In that sense, my own open hand can be an “assault weapon” – once I swing it at you. (It should be readily apparent by this that semantics aren’t covered in a “Journalism” degree track – leaving aside the foolishment of people reporting upon topics about which they haven’t the first idea.)

    “Battlefield of war” as used by the Obama camp is, obviously, redundant. And they obviously don’t know anything about NFA34 (the law you cite as controlling select-fire & full-automatic firearms – in addition to “short-barreled rifles,” “short-barreled shotguns,” “firearm sound suppressors” (calling them “silencers” is a misnomer – they REDUCE the report, they DO NOT eliminate it,) and “Any Other Weapon” (AOW – such as pen guns, Zippo guns, smoothbore pistols – like the GM “Liberator” from WWII, “non-guns” (firearms that do not appear as such,) “ballistic knives,” and the like.) I figure they do know about GCA68 (they keep amending it,) and the Hughes Amendment of 19APR1986 is what permanently fixed the supply of Class 3/Title II devices (NFA34) in the United States. That’s why you might flip through a gun mag and see the phrase “pre-86 Dealer Sample” added to a machine gun for sale description – that’s one that may be legally sold to an individual.

    Yeah, I’m cranky. I don’t think you should be allowed to report on – or regulate – a subject about which you don’t know enough to hold your own in a discussion. Most of these people writing the rules or the news articles about firearms would have their eyes glaze over if you started a conversation with them, simply because they are almost immediately out of their depth!

    Meanwhile, if you’d like a technical editor for your articles, I would like to offer my services. I may be reached through email at dragonland2001 AT yahoo DOT COM, and I may also be found on facebook under my proper name.

    -JDK

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  21. Thanks for another magnificent post. Where else may just anybody get that kind of info in such a perfect manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the look for such information. cbkgefeedeac

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