The biggest thing I’ve noticed about anti-gun folks is that they routinely know jack-all about guns. A prime example of this is Shannon Watts freaking out over a bolt-action last year because it looked to her like an AR-15 or something. It was scary looking, and that was enough.

Now, the New Zealand website Stuff is freaking out because a “version” of the Christchurch killer’s firearm is still legal.

Critics of the Government’s gun law changes say a loophole means that a lower-powered version of the assault rifle used by the Christchurch mosque shooter remains legal.

Police have confirmed that an AR15 WMR .22 semi automatic with military-style features does not fit the definition of a prohibited firearm under the new law, provided it is fitted with a magazine holding 10 rounds or less.

The mosque shooter used a more powerful, centrefire version of the AR15, with large capacity magazines, during his rampage, which left 50 people dead.

He had bought his weapons on a standard firearms licence and illegally converted them to military-style with easily obtainable parts.

The Government banned all centrefire “military style” semi-automatics, but less powerful rimfire .22 semi-automatics remain legal for people holding a standard firearms licence.

Now, I’m not about to defend New Zealand’s ban. It was an illogical, knee-jerk reaction on the part of elected officials. It was a black swan event that’s now being rationalized as somehow inevitable because people could get AR-15s.

But a firearm that shoots .22 WMR is a far cry from a .223-firing weapon. While the numbers look similar, anyone familiar with firearms knows just how different the two rounds are.

The .22 is a tiny round generally argued to only be good for target practice and shooting very small game, like squirrels, rabbits, and similar-sized animals. A local gun dealer used to warn people about using it in self-defense by saying, “If you shoot someone with this, they’ll realize they’ve been shot in a day or two and be really, really pissed at you about it.”

In other words, a man-stopper, it ain’t.

Meanwhile, .223 is a much more powerful cartridge. It’s still not particularly effective for large game, mind you, but it’s much larger than a .22 round and packs more of a punch.

There’s no way you can mistake the two rounds for one another if looking at cartridges side by side. It’s just not possible unless you suffer from some kind of condition that doesn’t allow you to judge sizes or something.

Why does this matter? It matters because we’re talking about a firearm that uses the former of those two, one that’s horribly ineffective as a supposed murder weapon. That’s not to say it can’t kill. It can. All firearms are dangerous, of course. What I’m saying is that this would the absolute worst weapon to try and inflict mass harm with.

So why the freakout?

Easy. It looks scary. It looks scary and, therefore, shouldn’t be allowed, but it is.

So much of gun control is really about the looks of a weapon, rather than the functionality. Look at 1994’s assault weapon ban, for example. It identified “assault weapons” based on cosmetic features, and people figured that was good enough. So much so that they wanted to reauthorize it despite the law having done nothing in its decade of existence.

Gun grabbers in New Zealand aren’t any different in that regard.

(A previous version of this story had the firearm as .22 Long Rifle rather than .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire.)