Friday, August 22, 2014


National Review's Charles C.W. Cooke is upset because of a gun terminology error made by CNN's Don Lemon:

Lemon's central claim was that, after the shooting in Colorado in 2012, he was able to go out and, in "20 minutes" or less, buy a machine gun. "I think," he added, "most people can go out and buy an automatic weapon."

... "A semi-automatic weapon," radio host Ben Ferguson explained, "is a gun that you and I are allowed to own, and in different places they have different rules. But to imply that anyone can walk out and buy an automatic weapon is just not true, Don."

Ferguson is correct, and Lemon is wrong. Under the law, "automatic" is the word we use to describe weapons that continue to fire for as long as the trigger is depressed. "Semi-automatic," by contrast, is the word we use to describe weapons that will fire once with each trigger pull....

Having been corrected, what Lemon should have said was, "you’re right, I meant 'semi-automatic.'" But he didn't. Instead, he said:
“For me, an automatic weapon is anything that you can shoot off a number of rounds very quickly.”

... the item that the panel is discussing was a semi-automatic weapon. There is no "dispute" over this. This is not an ongoing "debate." It’s not a matter of "opinion." It's not an issue on which we can "agree to disagree." It’s not an "altercation" that can give way to "compromise." It’s a fact. An undisputed fact. And yet, for some reason, Lemon seemed to believe that he could talk his way out of his mistake.
Yes, Lemon got his terminology wrong. Gun extremists fixate on such mistakes, as a way of signaling to fellow members of their tribe that these gun-grabbers are arrogant elitist metrosexual pantywaists who don't know the first thing about our way of life. I think everyone who wants to report on gun violence or advocate for gun control needs to learn not to make such errors, if only to deprive gunners of this trump card.

On the other hand, Lemon is hardly alone. Here's a gentleman who's actually quite fond of guns, in an onstage appearance in 2007:

Obama, he's a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let's hear it for him. And then I was in New York. I said, "Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch." Since I'm in California, how about [Senator] Barbara Boxer [D-CA], she might want to suck on my machine gun. And [Senator] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA], ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions?
As an op-ed columnist for Oregon's Salem News noted at the time of this incident:
In the video clip capturing the rocker's antics, you see Nugent standing onstage with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles in each hand. He references the weapons as "machine guns." My first thought was that such an outspoken gun advocate should know that the AR-15 IS NOT a machine gun. Sorry, good try Ted. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 and it does not fire fully automatic.
A libertarian columnist for the Orange County Register -- a Nugent defender -- also identified the firearms as AR-15s, not machine guns.

Has Charles C.W. Cooke has ever chided Nugent for this error? If so, I'm not aware of it.


Cooke goes on to offer this video to demonstrate the difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic:

In the clip, you watch the use of an automatic weapon -- a belt-fed machine gun -- and, yes, it gets off a lot of rounds in an extremely short time. But then, at 1:25, you watch the shooter use a semi-automatic. He carefully spaces his trigger pulls so that he gets off eight shots in eighteen seconds. Cooke's point in embedding this video: This is what you liberals are so afraid of. Look at it. Heck, it's no faster than a standard hunting rifle.

Well, it's no faster if it's used that way. Cooke chose not to embed a video like this, which demonstrates how many shots you can get off with a semi-automatic weapon (an AR-15 or AK-47) if you're really trying:

With the AK-47, this shooter swaps magazines midway through the demonstration (and briefly fumbles the swap), yet still gets off 30 rounds in 30.66 seconds. And that's the second test -- in the first test, with the AR-15, he gets off 30 rounds in 23.1 seconds. Is that machine-gun fast? No -- but it's pretty freaking fast.

That's BooMan's point:
The first police officer arrived at the Sandy Hook Elementary School a mere four minutes after the first 911 call. And everything was already over. Twenty-six people were dead, including 20 first graders. As the police arrived, Lanza made it twenty-seven when he took his own life. Are you going to tell me that things could have been substantially worse if he had had a fully automatic M-16?
How fast do you need to be able to get off 30 rounds before we're not living under fascist tyranny?


Victor said...

Thanks for the info, and the clarification, Steve.

The only real guns - outside of GI Joe mock 45's - were Revolutionary War long-guns, and a pistol.

Two of the guys in the bar I worked at were Revolutionary War re-creators.
One played an American soldier, and the other, and Iroquois on the side of the British.

They invited me to come and skeet-shoot with them one winter Sunday.

Let me tell you, you gain a tremendous amount of admiration for the courage of soldiers in all sides of that war.

The time it takes to put in the powder, and put in powder and the ball, and tamp it all down - and all of whatever it is that I've forgotten is no mean feat on a winter's day in the mid-1990's, when the skeet aren't firing back.
With practice, I'm sure the soldiers could do it pretty quickly - but regardless of practice, it still takes a hell of a lot more time than most the guns used in the Civil War, and any of the ones used in the wars after that.

But the courage it took to stand there, or crouch, to load, aim, and fire, when the soldiers on the other side are firing back, takes my breathe away.

Imo - people should only be allowed to have guns that are replica's of the guns that were around at the time that the 2nd Amendment was signed.

Yeah, I know...

Unsalted Sinner said...

During my youthful (and very peaceful) adventures in the Norwegian army, I fired an AG-3 rifle on both automatic and semi-automatic, and my conclusion is clear: The difference in rate of fire between a semi-automatic gun and a repeating weapon that has to be manually reloaded by some form of bolt or pump action after every shot is huge. By comparison, the difference between semi-automatic and automatic fire hardly matters.

I actually came to think that I personally would have been more dangerous in a combat situation if I stuck to semi-automatic fire, as I had much better control. The recoil made it a struggle to keep the rifle steady when I fired on automatic, so unless I hit the target with the first shot, it was pretty much a waste of bullets. Firing single shots, I could empty a magazine in a few seconds and actually hit what I was aiming for.