Παρασκευή, 5 Απριλίου 2013

Obama Claims Adam Lanza Used a Machine Gun at Sandy Hook


Yesterday I
noted
that President Obama continues to conflate so-called
assault weapons—i.e., semi-automatic guns defined by
functionally unimportant, military-style features that offend
politicians—with the rifles carried by soldiers, which can fire
automatically. In Denver on Wednesday, Obama described the guns he
wants to ban as "weapons of war" and inaccurately identified one of
the firearms used in last year's massacre at a movie theater in
nearby Aurora as an "assault rifle," which is a selective-fire
weapon that can fire automatically (continuously) as well as
semi-automatically (once per trigger pull). Obama was at it again
last night, claiming in a
San Francisco speech
 that the rifle Adam Lanza used to
murder 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School
in Newtown, Connecticut, last December was "a fully automatic
weapon." This was no slip of the tongue; Obama initially called the
rifle "a semi-automatic weapon," then immediately "corrected"
himself:



I just came from Denver, where the issue of gun violence is
something that has haunted families for way too long, and it is
possible for us to create common-sense gun safety measures that
respect the traditions of gun ownership in this country and hunters
and sportsmen, but also make sure that we don’t have another 20
children in a classroom gunned down by a semiautomatic weapon—by a
fully automatic weapon in that case, sadly.



Fully automatic weapons, a.k.a. machine guns, are strictly
regulated under federal law, and it will come as news to anyone
following this case that one was used at Sandy Hook. Police have

identified
Lanza's gun as an M4-style
carbine
 made by Bushmaster, specifically the Bushmaster
XM15-E2S. Bushmaster explains
that designation this way (emphasis added): "XM for Experimental
Model, 15 for semi-automatic and E2S is second generation
receivers with added reinforcing." Not only is this gun not "a
fully automatic weapon"; it did not even
qualify
as an "assault weapon" under Connecticut law (or under
the federal "assault weapon" ban that expired in 2004, which used
similar criteria). We know that because police say Lanza's mother
purchased it legally in Connecticut. (Bushmaster has a whole
line
of "state-compliant" rifles.) When the Connecticut General
Assembly
expanded
the state's "assault weapon" ban this week, it added
Bushmaster XM15 rifles to its list of
guns
that are prohibited by name. The new, broader
"assault weapon" ban
introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-Calif.) and endorsed by the president likewise specifically
prohibits the manufacture or sale of Bushmaster XM15
rifles. 


Is it too much to expect the president to know which guns he is
trying to ban? Does Obama actually think that machine guns are
readily available to civilians, that they are legal in Connecticut,
and that Lanza's mother bought one there for her collection? After
more than two decades of debate about "assault weapon" bans, does
he honestly not understand the difference between those arbitrarily
prohibited firearms and machine guns? Or, since the misconception
that "assault weapons" fire more rapidly than other semi-automatic
firearms seems to be one the main reasons people think it makes
sense to ban them, is Obama deliberately misleading the
public? Is it appalling ignorance or calculated deception? The
clues suggest the former, but I'm not sure which is worse.


[Thanks to Robert Woolley for the tip.]

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