The Washington Post handed anti-gun activists a major piece of propaganda on Monday with its whopping ten-part series on the AR-15, but Everytown president John Feinblatt’s attempt to drum up readership for the paper’s hit piece on modern sporting rifles accidentally included a very strong argument against the group’s desired ban on AR-15s and other so-called assault weapons. See if you can spot it.
1 in 4 guns sold in America is an AR-15.
1 in 20 Americans owns an AR-15.
10 of the 17 deadliest American mass shootings since 2012 involved AR-15s.
For all of these reasons and more, today’s @WaPo deep-dive on the AR-15 is a must-read. https://t.co/GbdqYpPA19
— John Feinblatt (@JohnFeinblatt) March 27, 2023
Yep, right there at the beginning. One in four guns sold in the United States is a modern sporting rifle? I’d say that unquestionably means these arms are in common use, and aren’t “unusual” weapons. Feinblatt’s stat puts modern sporting rifles clearly under umbrella of arms that are protected by the Second Amendment, according to what the Supreme Court has repeatedly said since issuing the Heller decision in 2008. SCOTUS has made it clear that only those arms that are “dangerous and unusual” arms fall outside of the scope of the Second Amendment, and even Feinblatt and his anti-gun allies at the WaPo can’t deny the widespread popularity of modern sporting rifles. Instead, they claim that the guns are uniquely dangerous. But as the fine folks at Open Source Defense pointed out on Twitter, 99.9% of modern sporting rifles will never be used in a crime.
That's a murder use rate of 1 AR per 48,780 per year, or 0.004%. The article spends much of its time focused on that segment, but it then moves on to the premise: that it's going to teach you about the other 99.996% — what drove all those people to buy an AR.
— Open Source Defense (@opensrcdefense) March 27, 2023
Other 2A advocates pointed out the journalistic sleight of hand employed by the Post to build their case for a gun ban.
Why "since 2012"? Seems pretty arbitrary.
Oh, right, because a few shootings in the years before that didn't involve an AR-15 (or any rifle) but still had very high numbers of victims. Particularly Virginia Tech. https://t.co/oVdU5UgbgJ pic.twitter.com/AXCOVYe86B
— Kostas Moros (@MorosKostas) March 27, 2023
As Moros argued in greater detail in another tweet responding to David Hogg, the frequency of mass shootings may have grown to “the ridiculous and unacceptable frequency” that we see today, but it wasn’t the rise of the AR-15 or the Second Amendment’s existence that is fueling the violence.
Columbine is the obvious dividing line between when mass shootings were a once or twice-a-decade type of event not unlike what you still see in European countries today, to the ridiculous and unacceptable frequency we now have in America. But Columbine and the many shootings that came after it were not caused by people having the right to bear arms – because if they were, we would have had tons of these active shooter events throughout our history. They happened before, but they were rare. In fact, mass killings earlier in American history usually involved bombs or arson, even though guns capable of shooting plenty of rounds before reloading were readily available without a background check. The Bath School massacre in 1927, for example, killed 38 schoolchildren and six adults. The scumbag behind that attack used bombs, not guns. That’s worse than any modern school shooting (and worse than any mass shooting in the US period, except for Vegas and Pulse).
So why am I telling you this? Because mass killing is a sociological problem, whatever the method. We will not allow you or anyone else to take away the rights we have inherited from our proud historical tradition to solve a modern problem that wasn’t even caused by those rights and only has become common very recently.
Especially when your solutions don’t even work. California has all the laws you demand be passed nationally, yet according to Mother Jones’s tracker, has a disproportionate share of mass shooting victims. The laws I fight every day have little effect on violent pieces of shit, but they do harass peaceable people and can land them in prison for not staying constantly up to date on the latest dumb law California passed.
Moros makes two suggestions for Hogg if he’s serious about reducing the number of mass shootings. First, quit demonizing gun owners (which isn’t going to happen). Second, “identify why mass shootings have become so ‘trendy’ for nihilistic nutjobs, and make it not desirable to them.” The California attorney went on to say that we know “how many of these people are influenced by a desire for infamy, yet we keep giving them what they want.”
He’s not wrong, and even when news outlets take the rare step of showing some restraint in their reporting on these suspects social media is there to take up the slack. But I’d also add another suggestion to prevent these horrific acts from taking place: recognizing and responding to these threats before an individual has a chance to act. According to the Secret Service, the vast majority of active assailants who targeted schools for attack communicated their threats beforehand. When people are paying attention, whether its family, friends, fellow students, or school staffers, they can make a difference by speaking up to the appropriate authorities. Law enforcement and educators can and have dropped the ball, so it’s equally important that they react accordingly when those threats are communicated to them, but the 2019 Secret Service report is pretty clear that the “majority of these incidents are preventable” when information is shared.
I don’t think we’re ever going to get rid of the dark recesses of the Internet any more than we’re going to get rid of every modern sporting rifle in existence, and the First and Second Amendments honestly take both options off the table. We have the right to speech that most of us find grossly offensive and deeply disturbing; even to the point of idolizing school shooters, as disgusting as I think that is. We also have the right to keep and bear arms that are used by violent criminals, whether we’re talking about handguns (the weapon of choice for both law-abiding and lawbreaking citizens) or modern sporting rifles. Criminal misuse of firearms doesn’t negate the right of peaceable Americans to keep and bear arms for self-defense, and the Constitution and common sense precludes any real attempt to ban our way to safety. That doesn’t mean we’re powerless to prevent these tragedies from taking place, but it does take the type of sweeping prohibition on modern sporting rifles that Feinblatt and Everytown demands off the table.