CNN’s Don Lemon thinks just about anyone can wander down to Walmart, plunk their money on the counter, and walk out with an automatic weapon.

No, I’m not kidding.

Lemon doesn’t know the difference between an automatic weapon—a machine gun—and an semi-automatic weapon, which fires one bullet per trigger pull and which have been commonly owned by civilians for more than a century.

Lemon, never willing to concede how stunningly wrong he is, then attempts to argue that the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic is a matter of “semantics.”

It never ceases to amaze me that so-called professional journalists believe that it is acceptable to be this incredibly ignorant about firearms.

Since the National Firearms Act passed in 1934, automatic weapons have been very tightly regulated. There are roughly 250,000 in the entire nation—half of those are registered to law enforcement agencies—out of 300 million total firearms. Their owners are incredibly well vetted, to the point that precisely one non-law enforcement owned automatic weapon has been used in a crime in the past 80 years.

It’s too bad our political candidates don’t require the same level of scrutiny.

Precisely zero automatic weapons have been manufactured for public consumption in 28 years, since the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owner Protection Act (FOPA) made the sale of new machine guns to the public illegal, regardless of their qualifications.

Any journalist who attempted to argue that there only a semantic difference between a NASCAR Sprint Cup race car and your average grocery-hauling Ford Fusion would be laughed out of the newsroom.

It s a stunning display of institutionalized ignorance that helps explain why any reporting from the mainstream media regarding firearms or their use can never really be trusted.