I shouldn’t be, but I still find myself slack-jawed every time I read something like the following:
“[C]an anyone out there tell me what a semi-automatic weapon is and looks like? When I’ve asked people that in the past, they usually say ‘a machine gun.’ I would agree.”
I’m not surprised at the lies, cherry-picked statistics, and deceptive tactics used by the anti-gun left. I expect that. However, I am surprised by the sheer ignorance of the public and media, and our politicians, when it comes to discussing firearms. I understand that not everyone grows up around guns, but one would think that if someone is going to write about guns, publically talk about guns, or author or support legislation about guns, that he or she would have at least a modicum knowledge about guns.
Sadly, all too often they do not. They don’t know the laws, they don’t know the difference between a barrel shroud and a “shoulder thing that goes up,” and, as in this case, apparently doesn’t know the difference between fully-automatic and semi-automatic, although anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the English language should be able to tell they are not the same thing.
The problem is that people like this write laws, they try to sway public opinion with ill-informed rhetoric, and they vote.
Even in the case of this author, who raises some valid points and does not appear to be on the “gun ban” bandwagon, he gets things fundamentally wrong. He confuses the “Bill of Rights” with a bill of needs. He’s obviously not a hunter, yet presumes to tell hunters how to hunt. (Yes, a rugged, light weight semi-auto rifle like an AR-15 is the perfect gun to hunt coyotes with because they take off with the speed of a greyhound. If you are working a bolt it is very hard to get ahead of the target).
Yet he also acknowledges that things like “assault rifles” are not a problem, and that the public, politicians, and gun-rights groups like the NRA (and Michigan Open Carry) are essentially talking a different language because—quite simply—gun people know what they are talking about, politicians are, well, politicians, and the gun-ignorant public doesn’t understand either.
So what do we—gun owners and 2A advocates—do? Essentially we continue to do what we have been doing. First of all, we count to ten (or alternatively count calibers from .17 HMR to .50 BMG if you prefer), then politely, and very clearly and succinctly, correct the misinformation. Don’t adopt a “scorched earth” policy if someone is simply misinformed or doesn’t know something. People don’t know what they don’t know. Second of all, be a good representative of a gun owner, not a bad example. Finally, be proactive, not reactive. Call or write your legislative representatives, write your local newspapers, support 2A organizations like Michigan Open Carry, the Second Amendment Foundation, and others, and take the time to speak with others when they see you open carrying and ask you questions.
In all fairness to the author above, he “misspoke.” I emailed him about his article. I was polite and in reply so was he. He thanked me for reading and writing and told me that he had inadvertently written “semi-automatic weapon” when he meant to write “assault weapon” and corrected his article. Hopefully I left him with a positive image of a gun-owner, but I’ve no doubt he received some less-than charitable emails. We still don’t see eye-to-eye on all issues, but there’s no reason to create an enemy where none existed before. Remember, one person sows, and another harvests.