Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Presidential Firearms

I’ll begin by admitting that like many Americans I own a few firearms. I’m not a hunter, but I enjoy target shooting thanks to a summer spent at Camp Adahi in Union, ME, back in 1954. It was there, as a 10-year-old, I first fired a gun. Several times a week we’d go to the outdoor firing range and shoot at targets with .22 rifles. I really enjoyed it, and also learned how to use firearms safely and responsibly. 

The lessons learned at Camp Adahi have served me well over the years. I realize, too, the vast majority of those who own firearms have learned these same lessons. They are law-abiding citizens who simply exercise their rights as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It’s also important to realize the 2nd Amendment wasn’t written to serve hunters and target shooters. The Founders had just fought and won a war of independence against the most powerful nation on earth. And they won because the people were armed and could fight against the army of a despotic ruler who chose tyranny over freedom. If we can learn one thing from history, it’s that tyrants always try first to disarm the people…something to remember.

Anyway, our current President speaks often of firearms, but sadly too much of what he says about them is not true. Some of these statements might result from simple ignorance since he seems to know little about guns. But other comments address information readily available, often from his own administration, and leads us to question his motives. Here are a few examples:
  • In a recent speech in Wilkes-Barre, PA, the president claimed, “Back in 1994, I took on the NRA and passed the ‘assault weapons’ ban. For ten years, mass shootings we’re down.” He then added, “Republicans let that ban expire, and what happened? Mass shootings tripled.” But both statements are incorrect. In 2004 the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) of the Department of Justice concluded that no reduction in crime could be attributed to the assault weapons ban. Indeed, the NIJ report stated, “The ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” As for the tripling of mass shootings, here's the data. There were 31 mass shootings during the decade before the ban and 31 during the decade the ban was active. During the 10 years after it expired there were 47. Yes, there was in increase, but nowhere near a tripling. The increase has been attributed not only to population growth but, sadly, also to a growing lack of respect for both the law and traditional moral standards. 
  • In the same speech President Biden also stated that “There is a mass shooting every single day in this country.” Given that the definition of a mass shooting comes from his own Department of Justice, this claim was very strange and very wrong. In truth, we experienced a total of 129 mass shootings during the 40 years between 1982 and 2022. So far this year we've had 7, and there certainly haven't been 365 during the past 12 months.  
  • Speaking in Wilkes-Barre must have an odd effect on our president. He also claimed that “The bullet out of an AR-15 travels five times as rapidly as a bullet out of any other gun.” Oh, boy, I simply can’t imagine where he got this little gem that is so wrong it’s laughable. Depending on the ammunition and the particular A-15, the muzzle velocity might be as high as 3,000 feet per second, about the same as a rifle firing .30-06 ammunition. But, believe me, there are commercial rifles with muzzle velocities well above this, even above 4,000 fps. To claim an AR-15's muzzle velocity is five times that of any other gun is just absurd.
  • The president also said, “The AR-15 just rips the body apart.” This, too, is absurd. The ammo used determines its effects and most AR ammo penetrates rather than expands, and even expandable hollow points don't “rip the body apart.”
  • He said something similar when discussing 9mm ammunition, stating that a 9mm bullet will “blow the lung out of a body” — another absurdity. No 9mm bullet will blow the lung or any other major organ out of a body. But perhaps his confusion stems from another comment he made when he labeled 9mm firearms among “high-caliber weapons.” This also is hard to understand. A 9mm round is generally a pistol round and is certainly not among the largest pistol calibers. Yes, it's larger than a .22 but smaller than a .38, or a 10mm, or a .45. And virtually every rifle round would be considered more powerful than a 9mm.
I think that’s enough, but I find myself wondering why he would say these things. The only answer I can come up with is that he’s likely speaking to true believers, those on his side anyway. And like most of those who actively support “gun control” rather than “crime control,” they know very little about firearms. The president, then, can say whatever he likes and still be believed. The mainstream media, also avid gun-control supporters, could fact-check the president, but exposing his errors would work against their narrative, so why bother? 

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