Gun Misinformation: Semi-Automatic and Fully Automatic

Continuing my gun misinformation series from yesterday I think that it’s a good time to clear up the difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms. It is one of the most basic pieces of information regarding firearms and their function, but it is also one that is apparently least understood by gun control activists. Even Bob Costas, who went on national television to advocate for more gun control just recently, clearly doesn’t understand what semi-automatic means.

I’ve seen many people over the last few days repeat Costas’s mistake. These people try to sound reasonable and say they don’t want to ban all guns… just semi-automatics. Of course, if you were to ban semi-automatics that would account for nearly every modern firearm in existence. The only modern firearm you’d have left is, basically, the bolt or lever action rifles and some shotguns.

Now, the difference between a semi-automatic firearm and a fully automatic one is simple. While both automatically reload a fresh cartridge each time a shot is fired, semi-automatics require a pull of the trigger in order to fire each round whereas fully automatics will continue to fire so long as the trigger is depressed. It’s a small but important difference.

Though there aren’t hard statistics on this, it is very likely that of the estimated several hundred million firearms in the United States the vast majority are semi-automatics. If you want to see for yourself how many modern firearms are semi-automatic you should stop by your local gun store and ask them to point out which firearms are semi-automatic… or, to save time, which aren’t.

Fully automatic firearms, on the other hand, are not very prevalent. However, despite what many people think, they are not illegal for civilians to own. In fact, there are an estimated 240,000 fully automatic firearms in the United States of which it’s believed half are owned by police and the other half by civilians.

So, that means there are likely over 100,000 fully automatic firearms legally owned by civilians. Since the 1934 National Firearms Act, all legally owned fully automatic firearms must be registered. While bad policy it does mean that we can get a good picture of how many crimes they’ve been involved in. That number appears to be between 1 and 10.

There is the story of 1 murder involving a civilian-owned fully automatic which is often cited around the internet. It involves an Ohio doctor in either 1992 or 1993, and Confederate Yankee has the story but the original article’s website everybody cites is, unfortunately, not working anymore. Beyond that case researcher Gary Kleck reports in his landmark study Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control that the director of the ATF told Congress he knew of less than ten crimes that were committed with legally owned fully automatic firearms.

That’s less than 10 crimes over the last 80 years or so. Now, to be fair, there may have been more crimes involving legally owned automatics since that testimony, but given the absence of publicly reported cases it’s doubtful there have been many. In other words, legally owned fully automatic firearms, despite numbering over 100,000, are practically never used to commit crimes.

So, semi-automatics fire once per trigger pull and account for the vast majority of guns in the US while fully automatics continue to fire as long as the trigger is depressed. And while there are fewer of them, they are likely the most responsibly owned weapons on the planet.

Gun Misinformation: Assault Rifles and Assault Weapons

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from interacting with gun control advocates it’s that they’re the most misinformed & ignorant people from across the political spectrum. Not only that but they don’t care that they’re misinformed & prefer to remain that way. So this post and my other upcoming posts aren’t for them. Instead I’m doing this to help inform those who are actually interested in being informed.

So, let’s start with one of the most talked about gun types in the country right now. Assault rifles and so-called “assault weapons”.

First off, the term “assault weapon” is essentially a made up term that doesn’t actually refer to any unique subset of guns based on function. Instead, the term is used by gun control advocates to try and ban gun accessories that have certain misidentified or ridiculously exaggerated functions.

For instance, here are a few of the accessories the Brady Campaign wants banned & the utterly ridiculous effects the clearly ignorant person who wrote their frequently asked questions section imagines they have:

A pistol grip which facilitates spray-fire from the hip without losing control. A pistol grip also facilitates one-handed shooting.

This is completely absurd on all levels. First off, you can’t “spray-fire” in any realistic sense with a semi-automatic rifle. Additionally, shooting with one hand or from the hip is the least accurate or useful way to use any gun.

A threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor which allows the shooter to remain concealed when shooting at night, an advantage in combat but unnecessary for hunting or sporting purposes. In addition, the flash suppressor is useful for providing stability during rapid fire.

Flash suppressors do only what the name implies: suppress the flash created when firing a round. They don’t “provide stability during rapid fire”. They are also not useful for the purposes of criminals or mass murderers and the Brady Campaign doesn’t produce a single example of anybody using a flash suppressor in the way they describe and I can’t find one either… probably because there aren’t any.

A threaded barrel designed to accommodate a silencer which allows an assassin to shoot without making noise.

While the entire list is filled with misinformation, this point is by far the most absurd. Silencers do not make guns silent. They simply suppress the amount of noise created by each shot fired. That’s why people in the gun community usually refer to them as suppressors instead of silencers. I encourage anybody interested in how loud a suppressed gun is to actually go to a range and hear it for yourself (if you can actually find one since current gun laws make them difficult to buy). You may not need ear protection depending on the suppressor and gun, but there will be no doubt a gun has been fired.

Honestly, the only way anybody could draw the conclusions written in this Brady Campaign document, especially about hip firing & silencers, is if their only contact with guns involves watching 80s action movies. Given that, I see no way to take these groups and their supporters seriously. At least until they stop spreading ridiculous misinformation.

So, an “assault weapon” isn’t a real subset of firearms based on function but rather a firearm that features some random subset of accessories unrelated to the way the firearm operates  However, an assault rifle is an actual term used to describe a specific subset of rifles originating in World War II. The first of this type of firearm was the German Sturmgewehr 44 which means “storm rifle” of the year 1944.

Assault rifles are firearms that combine the fully automatic feature of the sub-machine gun with rifle ammunition. If you remove either one of those features then the firearm is no longer an assault rifle. An assault rifle must be able to shoot rifle ammunition at a fully automatic rate of fire.

Therefore, a rifle only capable of semi-automatic fire is not an assault rifle. That means that the AR-15 commonly available for civilian purchase, which gun control advocates are mainly after and the kind I own, is not an assault rifle. In function it is no different from any other semi-automatic rifle.

Click here for the next post in my gun misinformation series.

David Frum Pushes ABC’s Anti-Gun Propaganda

As most people already know David Frum is a hack. So much so that I’ve taken to labeling people who call themselves conservatives but do their best to undermine and attack conservative beliefs at every turn “Frums”. Therefore it should come as no surprise that Frum was out on Twitter forwarding some old ABC anti-gun propaganda.

Frum anti gun

Now, there’s a lot of stupid to unpack here, so let’s start with the bizarre statement Frum makes in his tweet. Now, I’ve never been quite sure what the alternate reality David Frum inhabits is like but it’s apparently a place where concealed carry laws haven’t been in existence for decades. Back here on earth though we’ve had concealed carry laws in place in most states for a long time and, as the recent shooting in Oregon reinforces, they’re life savers.

Ok, now that we’ve cleared that up, lets move on the poorly made anti-gun propaganda from ABC that Frum finds so enlightening.

Yea, wow. There’s so many ways in which this “experiment” is stacked against concealed carry. Let’s start with the basics.

In this “experiment” completely untrained & inexperienced college students are pitted against highly trained firearms instructors in a close range shooting match in order to test the effectiveness of carrying a concealed weapon. So the only thing they’re really testing is whether these college students can win in a shootout with a fully trained firearms instructor who attack them with a gun already drawn & using the element of surprise. What a worthwhile undertaking…

But that obvious stacking of odds against concealed carry was apparently not enough for ABC News though as they continued their skewing in several other ways. First off they force the college kids to wear ridiculously long & impractical shirts with snapping holsters, a combination which nobody who carries on a regular basis would ever use. Then the highly trained firearms instructor purposely targets the college kids immediately after shooting the teacher.

Of course even all that wasn’t enough bias for ABC as they basically have to lie about the results of their own test involving the young woman in order to fit their narrative. Not only was the completely untrained woman able to draw her weapon from under her ridiculously over sized shirt but she was able to fire it at the firearms instructor, hit him in the groin, and effectively end the shooting.

ABC labels this a stunning failure because the marksman they used as the bad guy hit her giant helmet at some point, she wasn’t sure about where she had shot the gunman (because that matters for some reason), and because she stood up slightly.

It is important to note that the firearm instructor & police officer’s warnings that being trained & prepared is an essential part of being armed are, of course, sound advice. Nobody should carry a weapon unless they know how to do so responsibly.

However, what’s more important to note is exactly what ABC recommends you do instead of arming yourself since they’ve just had you sit through propaganda about how crazy & ineffective that is. Against a myriad of evidence ABC tells its viewers that it’s better to hide, play dead, try to run away, or use your cellphone. Obviously those are things that should be employed if they’re most likely to keep you alive in the situation but pretending you aren’t utterly exposed if those are your only options is insanity.

This clearly serves to remind us that when gun control advocates argue guns are too ineffective or dangerous to be used in self-defense their alternative is always that you be left defenseless. That is absurd.

But when you’re an gun control advocate absurdity is a key piece of most of your arguments so I suppose none of this bothers ABC or David Frum. It should, though, bother anybody who does cares about logic or fact. Hopefully that’s more people than not.