You keep saying semi-automatic…

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

With all the emotion involved with the recent shooting, I’m trying really hard to, in the words of Pat Peoples, be kind instead of right. On the other hands, in the words xkcd, SOMEONE IS BEING WRONG ON THE INTERNET! But, I just have to say that for those of you wanting to have a “gun control” argument, note one of two things.

1. If you actually want to make all guns illegal, just say so. Doesn’t help your argument to pretend otherwise.

2. If you actually want stricter control of guns, you need to know about the laws already on the books and about guns. A lot of people are using words like “assault” and semi-automatic. Assault is almost meaningless. And semi-automatic? Pretty much all guns–with the exception of muskets and certain shotguns–are semi-automatic these days. Semi-automatic simply means you don’t have to reload anything between shots (and, honestly, in some circles “automatic” is used in the same manner). Semi-automatic does not mean machine gun. Not even close.

People seem to be under the impression Lanza (and these other types of shooters) used a military-grade machine gun and sprayed the room indiscriminately. In a way, that’s easier to believe. But if the last reports are to be believed, Lanza used pistols as his primary weapon. Even if he fired the Bushmaster, it still requires a trigger pull for each shot. Which means–and this makes thinking about the shooting even worse–Lanza did not walk in and sweep a gun back and forth. He walked into a fairly secure school with legally purchased and registered guns, aimed them at children and fired. Over and over again.

Me? I find myself not interested in arguing about guns. My mind’s kind of full=up with the sort of person, the sort of brain capable of committing such an act.

7 thoughts on “You keep saying semi-automatic…

  1. Thanks Ken for pointing this out, I wish other journalist would look at the facts before running with speculation of little bits. Especially with this gun control issue. Most people don’t realize fully automatic weapons are already illegal.

  2. The side of our political divide that is most-averse to controlling weapons is also the side most-averse to implementing a substantive safety net for issues of mental health.

    It also happens to be the side that takes least seriously the ramifications of the “touchy-feely” aspects of contemporary life:

    That side’s loudest-expressed attitude toward such issues as “what sort of person” finds reverberation in the attitude that, as long as we have enough guns, we can handle the “sort of brain” that keeps coming into America’s schools and businesses and homes, and opening fire.

    These sorts of persons and brains open up fire, not for criminal gains, but for freedom from whatever chains enslave them.

    Meanwhile, those on the “gun control” side see less of a distinction in the different forms of “chains,” whether of mental illness, of bad parenting, or of gun-control laws.

    The point about weapons-ignorance/gun-control versus mental health is sound.

    But a good starting point seems to me to be the way that the different issues seem to align in sets along the opposing sides of our national, political divide.

    (($; -)}

  3. You passed over another issue being discussed, albeit a small issue in comparison. School security. I don’t know how to comment on this issue since it appears the school was locked, yet the shooter entered the building by shooting his way in. And how do you prevent this??

  4. Thanks for writing this Ken, I almost put a similar comment on facebook a couple of days ago and then decided to be kind instead of right but it bugs me when people react emotionally and ignorantly to these things. This event was horrific and my heart hurts for those most affected by loss of life and injuries. And I hate that those who misuse these words frame the conversation so that people like us who know that it’s not the semi-automatic gun’s fault can’t participate in the conversation without looking insensitive and ultra rightwing.

  5. @WW, it looks like he shot his way through a window. Now, I appreciate the president’s words and actions that are helping this nation recover from this but the reality is you can’t prevent these things 100%. Are we supposed to install military and bullet proof windows on every education building in our country? There is no easy answer but I think the path lies more in the mental health and reporting/awareness of people with issues like his than it does with removing semi-automatic pistols.

    I attended a sporting clays shoot a few months ago and I was standing around with my Remington 1100 12-guage amongst 140 people each with their own firearm. I felt very safe because I knew everyone around me treated their guns with the respect that a firearm deserves. Same goes for a trip a few months before that to a gun/rifle range outside of New Braunfels, TX. There were actually several fully automatic weapons there but everyone respects their fellow man and respects the danger that can come from not treating their guns and the people around them with respect.

    I wish those that call for banning firearms in the wake of a tragedy like this could visit one of these gun ranges and observe the good hearted, friendly, peaceful, country-loving americans that make up the vast majority of gun owners.

  6. I typically don’t assume facts until proven with evidence; however, Investigators reported that the Mother visited shooting ranges several times and that her son also visited an area range. Other reports indicate that it is still not clear whether the Mother brought her son to the range or whether he ever fired a weapon there. Regardless, I think even at a shooting range, you should be cautious because you never know what is going through the mind of the person next to you.

  7. One other thought–I’ve heard some people push for restricting magazine size as well. In a case such as this one, where the assailant had multiple weapons, I don’t think there’s much difference between having a weapon with three 10-round magazines and one with a 30-round magazine. It doesn’t take long at all to swap the 10-rounders out, and he still had two pistols as a backup. The only time I can see magazine size making a difference in a situation like that would be if there was somebody returning fire. Then that 5-10 seconds might make a difference. (Of course, if someone was able to return fire, he might never have reached the point of having to swap out the magazine.)

    I’m not saying it’s not a noble or worthwhile goal, but I don’t think it’s going to have much effect in situations like the recent one in the CT school.

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