These are the sorts of questions all elected Democrats should be asked, taking into consideration the flagrant gun-banning impulses of their base versus the party's "common sense reforms" posture in the gun control debate. Should all semi-automatic rifles be outlawed? If not, why not? And what's the difference between a semi-automatic rifle and an "assault weapon"? If so, the vast, vast majority of gun crimes (the vast, vast majority of which are committed by someone who is not the lawful owner of that gun) are committed with handguns, many of which are semi-automatic. Should those also be banned? If not, why not? The correct answer to the latter challenge is that the constitution guarantees the right to private gun ownership, and that an effort to make handguns illegal would be politically suicidal. Support for that right has skyrocketed over the years, even as gun control advocates employed the same "persuasive" tactics over and over again (also, as gun ownership exploded, violent crime plummeted). Anyway, how about it? Time to ban semi-automatics? Eh, no thanks, a Michigan Democrat tells CNN:
Doesn't he care about the children? Is that how this argument goes? The reality is that most Democrats realize advocating major gun control is a political loser (even among younger voters, contra Van Jones), which is why they generally adopt less problematic positions, or disguise their true designs. There's a reason why an "assault weapons" prohibition fell 20 votes short of Senate passage after the Sandy Hook massacre, when the chamber was in Democratic hands:
Dems who voted against Assault Weapons Ban after Newtown:— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) February 21, 2018
Nevertheless, sometimes party activists let the mask slip or party leaders tip their hand, with gun rights supporters ever vigilant for certain buzz words or perceived "tells." The truth is that each side of this debate is extremely suspicious of the other. It's difficult to reach compromises when one group believes the other is plotting to deprive them of fundamental rights, while the other group sees their opponents as blood-stained abettors of mass murder. The media certainly doesn't help matters by taking sides and stoking tensions -- often exhibiting extraordinary illiteracy about the subject they're covering, or confirming their bias by uncritically sharing fake news. Many journalists would do well to read this basic primer as a means of overcoming sometimes-embarrassing ignorance, about which some of them actually seem to be proud. But if they'd like to learn more about those icky guns (about which they have strong feelings), and not instantly surrender credibility with a large swath of their audience by butchering simple terms and facts, here's a strong landing point:
I've shared this a number of times before but here is a resource I've developed for reporters on the basics of firearms law and function https://t.co/Ha2LlqTzD7— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) February 23, 2018
Reporters should also take John McCormack's recommendations to heart. They may delude themselves into believing that President Trump's attacks are the cause of distrust in their profession, but that explanation avoids hard truths about the systemic bias that has undercut and harmed journalism for many years. McCormack picks up on a theme I addressed earlier in the week:
Take, for example, the media's treatment of Texas state senator Wendy Davis a couple months after abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of multiple murders in 2013 for killing born-alive infants with a pair of scissors. Davis stood and spoke for 11 hours in an ultimately failed effort to block a bill that would protect the lives of healthy, viable infants from the fifth month of pregnancy onward. (The Texas law includes an exception for a "severe fetal abnormality" that is "incompatible with life outside the womb," so the law didn't even prohibit those tough cases cited by supporters of a right to late-term abortion.) During a round of Sunday show interviews on CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS after her stunt, Davis was not asked to explain the difference between the Gosnell murders and the abortions she wanted to keep legal—something she, like Nancy Pelosi, could not explain later when questioned by TWS. Instead, she was treated as a hero and asked about the pink running shoes she stood in during her failed filibuster. Really. Go read the 20 questions she was asked during her Sunday-show jaunt...Republicans should not get a pass on guns because Democrats get a pass from the media on abortion. This is simply a call for the media to be better, to question liberal premises the same way they question conservative premises—on guns, abortion, and everything else.
I'll leave you with this insightful piece from Amy Walter, which unfortunately seems quite likely to fall on deaf ears. The scapegoat has been chosen:
"Portraying the NRA as an all-powerful manipulator of gullible gun owners not only insults gun owners but only further deepens the cultural divide on the issue."https://t.co/Xs94atP8E6— amy walter (@amyewalter) February 23, 2018
I also highly recommend clicking through and reading this entire thread about how there are no simple solutions to the mass shooting problem. It's really excellent, if unsettling.