So here we have a writer who obviously isn’t a knowledgeable gun owner himself, nor did he stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. At best, he may have snagged a room in one of those flea-bag motels on I-40 with the “BIG-RIG PARKING!” come-ons and the one room you can get for $23.99 a “nite,” if you show up to check in at 3:00 PM local plus one second.
Our young blogger, Tommy Christopher, clearly didn’t understand why the gun-smart Alex Griswold called BS on claims about the AR-15* made by Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). (I almost hate to use Christopher’s name, as this critique is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. But it’s important to understand the level of arrogant ignorance we’re dealing with out there. These poor people have no clue what they’re talking about, and yet they’ve been taught to assume as a given that they are smarter and better informed than “conservatives.”)
Griswold basically got everything right. Bernie Sanders referred after the terror attack to the need to ban “automatic weapons.” But automatic weapons are banned to the general public, and have been for decades. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon, meaning that it chambers a new round automatically after one is fired, but firing the next round requires pulling the trigger again. An automatic, or “fully automatic,” weapon fires multiple rounds with one depression of the trigger.
So Griswold corrected Sanders on his terminology – which matters for a couple of key reasons. One, because the automatic weapon is, as mentioned, already banned to the general public. Can’t ban it any more than it already is. That’s a policy distinction that clearly matters.
And two, because in any dynamic tactical situation, there’s a big difference between (a) fully automatic firing, (b) having your rounds chamber automatically, and (c) not having them do so. The latter is the worst-case scenario for staying alive if you’re being shot at. As Griswold observes, banning semi-automatic weapons, in order to ban popular rifles like the AR-15, would also deny Americans virtually all common pistols except revolvers.
Alan Grayson, meanwhile, made a name for himself this week by decrying the nominal cyclic rate of the AR-15, which is theoretically capable of chambering 700 rounds per minute. But Grayson referred to this as the firing rate the AR-15 is capable of.
Griswold pointed out with crisp clarity why that’s silly:
The cyclic rate of fire from an AR-15 is indeed around 700 rounds a minute, but that’s just how quickly the mechanics of the gun move the next bullet into place and allow it to be fired. Again, semi-automatic guns still require you to pull the trigger with each shot.
One conservative on Twitter offered Grayson $500,000 if he could fire an AR-15 700 times a minute, but don’t expect him to collect. You would need to pull the trigger more than ten times a second just to fire off that many shots. And that’s assuming you have a magical, non-existent 700-round magazine rather than the standard 30.
Matt Vespa at Townhall even stepped in with documentation from a guy who auto-fired a modified, specially equipped AR-15 until it failed – at 830 rounds. The point of both Griswold and Vespa is that it’s meaningless to talk about “700 rounds per minute,” the nominal cyclic rate of an AR-15**, as if that figure has some realistic tactical application.
Clearly, these points simply went over Christopher’s head. What Griswold wrote was exactly correct, but since Tommy Christopher didn’t understand it, he wrote a post accusing conservatives of not understanding what it means to say a weapon is semi-automatic versus automatic.
How arcane this all is to him is obvious from this delightful passage:
As for Sanders, those mocking him are keying in on the difference between “semi-automatic” firing capabilities, which require one trigger pull for each round fired, and “fully automatic,” which requires only a single depression of the trigger for continuous fire. One hint that this argument is faulty is that firearms enthusiasts are always sure to distinguish between “fully” and “semi” automatic, demonstrating that there is no clear definition for just plain “automatic.”
In fact, the term “automatic” can refer to the loading action, not the firing capability, in which case Sanders is technically correct with regard to both of the weapons used by the Orlando shooter, a Sig Sauer MCX and a Glock 17, both of which feature automatic loading mechanisms.
Well, basically, yes, if we overlook an ignorance-garble or two. But the difference between Christopher and Griswold is that Griswold already knew that, and everyone else who already knew that can tell that Griswold understood it going in, and Christopher didn’t.
Undeterred, Christopher walks back the progress he has just made with his own understanding, in order to lay into conservatives:
The interchangeable use of “semi-automatic” and “automatic” may be distasteful to conservatives, but it is at worst an imprecise but recognized description, and at best, a technically correct description of the loading mechanism of these firearms. But really, what exactly is the practical difference between a weapon that can be fired in a crowded club at the rate depicted in the video above, and a fully automatic firearm? That’s a question conservatives don’t really want anyone asking, so they focus on silly arguments over semantics…
A really big “practical difference” — other than the perplexingly obvious one between “firing” and “chambering” — is the one noted by Alex Griswold: that there is no way to fire 700 rounds in a minute from an off-the-shelf AR-15 because there’s no such thing as a 700-round magazine. But that’s aside from the point that if semi-automatic weapons are to be banned en masse – the implication from Tommy Christopher’s screed and Bernie Sanders’ comments – we can’t have even old standbys like Colt .45 1911s anymore, much less semi-automatic rifles. Griswold correctly observes that even the most vociferous gun-rights critics don’t usually go that far.
Other than an amusing little interlude, the take-away from this exchange of blog-fire over at Mediaite is that left-wing bloggers and politicians do attribute their own level of ignorance to everyone else. (Michael Moore, of course, is in a class by himself.)
And after doing a few web searches, the bloggers attack their political opponents for imputed ignorance, blissfully unaware – like toddlers throwing tactical tantrums – that the grown-ups can see exactly what they’re doing. (Friendly media, meanwhile, allow the politicians to get away unscathed with putting their ignorance on parade.)
In too many cases, this really is the level of opposition dialogue we’re dealing with on the issue of gun laws.
* And, yes, the AR-15 wasn’t even the rifle used by the Orlando terrorist. It was a Sig Sauer MCX.
** For our liberal friends: 700 rounds per minute is a nominal rate, calculated from how long it takes to automatically chamber a single round. But to chamber each new round, you have to fire the one before it. Unless you can, in fact, pull the trigger 700 times in 60 seconds, you can’t actually chamber that many rounds in a minute.