January 15, 2003

IT NEVER STOPS: No sooner have we seen the many flaws in the Washington Monthly’s water-carrying piece for the Violence Policy Center than it’s time for. . . The New Republic’s water-carrying piece for the Violence Policy Center. At least this piece admits where the story comes from, but still. . . .

I’m tired of Fisking these things. Somebody else will have to do the heavy lifting on this one. But here’s just one tendentious passage, typical of the genre:

When I left the gun store, I drove for ten minutes to a parking lot outside Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with a clear line of sight to a dozen or so planes waiting at the terminal. . . . Unlike a terrorist, I, of course, hadn’t bought a .50-caliber rifle at the store a few miles away.

Actually, a more accurate phrasing would be “Exactly like every terrorist in the world, I, of course, hadn’t bought a .50-caliber rifle at the store a few miles away.” The VPC, and the journalists who carry its water, would have us believe that Osama shops at gun shows and gun stores. It’s not true. I’m not against trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists — but, honestly, is gun control the first, or the fiftieth, line of defense against terrorism? Or is this just political opportunism of the first order? I link, you decide.

It’s in the linked post, but for your convenience I’m going to post my decoding of gun-control groups’ classification of firearms here:

“Saturday Night Specials” (cheap handguns) = Bad, must be banned

“Military Style Handguns” (expensive handguns) = Bad, must be banned

“Assault Weapons” (inaccurate, short-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned

“Sniper Rifles” (accurate, long-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned

There’s a definite pattern, isn’t there?

UPDATE: Democratic Blogger SKBubba emails:

I’m proud to say I bought my 1911 Colt .45 Commander at the same store (Buck’s in Daytona, after the required background check and waiting period of

course) where Bernard Goetz bought his handgun. I did not, however, encounter any targets of opportunity on the drive home. Dammit.

We need more Democrats like him.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Robin Roberts emails:

The journalist pretending to worry about a terrorist using a .50 BMG rifle on aircraft is hilarious since we know from the Nairobi attack on the El Al airliner that real terrorists already have Soviet era SAM’s.

Yes, there is that. Here’s a link to an article on that subject, which I found on Roberts’ blog.

UPDATE: TAPPED doesn’t like this post. But, you know, when you write stories that uncritically recycle advocacy-group claims, people will say that you’re in the tank, and I don’t think there’s anything unfair about that. As for the rest of TAPPED’s post, well, I think it’s pretty much self-Fisking. Just imagine what TAPPED would write if Ann Coulter said “just because no Arab Americans have set off nukes in major cities doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start cracking down on them now, while there’s still time. . . .” I don’t see TAPPED’s invocation of box-cutters as a very compelling argument for more gun control, either.

In truth, there might, somewhere, be a plausible argument for different regulation where these guns are concerned. But it wouldn’t be couched in hysterical advocacy-group language of the “Osama’s gonna get you!” variety. Osama doesn’t have to worry about the Brady Act, as those storehouses in Afghanistan showed. He had tanks and howitzers.

Terrorist control is what we need. Gun control is just politics.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Suman Palit takes up the challenge. Flit, on the other hand, thinks there’s something to the TNR story. But, as I say above, regardless of whether there’s a reasonable argument to be made here (and I rather doubt there is), that story doesn’t make it. Bruce and I had an interesting email argument last night, in which he said that if you don’t draw the line somewhere, it’ll be 20mm sniper rifles next. But, actually, the line is already drawn (by ATF regulation, I think, not by statute, though as we’ve already established I’m not only no Michael Barone, I’m also no Dave Kopel) at .50 caliber.