The Brady Campaign really wants a new ban on so-called “assault weapons,” and since the case for implementing such a ban is utterly incompatible with the truth, Helmke and friends are staying as far away from the truth as possible. Their latest “argument” (pdf file) has, for example, been brilliantly described this way:
I read the whole thing last night and took a sip of vodka every time I spotted a lie. This morning, I woke up in my neighbor’s yard naked and covered in what appeared to be a mixture of brake fluid and BBQ sauce.
The police said they would send me a video after they put it on youtube.
I would wear out my keyboard before I managed any kind of comprehensive listing of the mendacities, so today I’m going to concentrate on one point made in the Brady Campaign’s press release announcing their “report.” In the title line of the press release (“Since Assault Weapons Ban Lifted, At Least 163 Dead, 185 Wounded, 15 Police Officers Dead, 23 Wounded”), we are obviously expected to believe that had the ban been extended, those lives would not have been lost.
Oddly, though, the press release goes on to list four examples, at least half of which do nothing to support the claim that the expiration of the ban contributed in any way to the killings. Take this one, for example:
Stephen Liczbinski, a 12-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, executed in May by bank robbery suspects just days short of his 40th birthday. He left a wife, Michelle, and three children, Matt, Stephen and Amber.
Sergeant Lizbinski’s murderer, however, used an SKS rifle. These rifles were never banned by the expired federal law, and were just as available from 1994 to 2004 as they are now.
Here’s another example:
Janet Jorgensen, 68, mother of three and grandmother of eight, who had just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary when she was gunned down in the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska during the Christmas shopping season in December 2007. At St. James Catholic Church, the crowd for her funeral was standing room only. Robert Hawkins, 19, killed eight before committing suicide.
In this case, the firearm was a WASR-10 (here, I incorrectly called it a WASR-90, probably confusing it with the MAK-90), a semi-automatic knock-off of the AK-47, that was specifically designed to comply with the 1994 ban. The firearm used by the Westroads Mall killer, in other words, could be fairly described as a creation of the ban.
I thought about going through the Brady report and trying to catalog the number of killings committed with weapons not actually affected by the ban. I immediately realized that I would have some problems doing so, because in almost every instance, the report describes the firearm used as either an “assault rifle,” or an “AK-47.” Now we get into an entirely new problem with the BC’s claims. “Assault rifles” (as distinguished from the fabricated term, “assault weapons“) are defined as selective fire weapons, meaning that they can be set to fire in either semi-automatic or fully automatic modes (for purposes of this discussion, I am treating burst mode the same as fully automatic mode, just as federal law does). Such firearms have been extremely heavily regulated since 1934, with the passage of the National Firearms Act. The passage, and subsequent expiration, of the 1994 ban affected the legality of such guns not one iota. Similarly, a real AK-47 is an assault rifle, capable of fully automatic fire, and subject to the same draconian laws that regulate any other fully automatic weapon.
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.
Perhaps the Brady Campaign and friends would be well advised to wait on their efforts to ban guns, and first concentrate on banning the truth. That would make their agenda much easier.