There are opinions bolstered by facts and evidence, and then there are opinions devoid of such critical undergirding. Unfortunately, the loudest people in the room are the ones who turn heads, and in the case of gun control, the loudest people happen to be the ones bereft of facts.
In a perfect world, opinions formulated without any factual base would be discounted out of hand. However, the world in which we live is saturated with uninformed opinions based on little more than anecdotes and suppositions, and driven by emotions. It’s a toxic combination that can lead to dangerous policy.
After the Orlando terror attack, writer/comedian/voice actor Seth MacFarlane tweeted the following:
MacFarlane’s insipid statement about “automatic weapons” was retweeted 13,000 times, and “liked” 27,000 times. There’s only one problem. Automatic weapons have been effectively banned since 1986.
The Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) of 1986 included a provision that banned the sale of fully-automatic firearms made after the year in which it was enacted.
In an analysis for the Connecticut General Assembly, Veronica Rose and Meghan Reilly wrote:
“[Federal law] requires all machine guns, except antique firearms, not in the U.S. government’s possession to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)…bars private individuals from transferring or acquiring machine guns except those lawfully possessed and registered before May 19, 1986…”
“The lawful transfer of a machine gun generally requires (1) filing a transfer application with ATF, (2) paying a transfer tax, (3) getting ATF approval, and (4) registering the firearm in the transferee’s name.
Transferees must pass an extensive criminal background investigation and meet the criteria for possessing firearms under state and federal law. Among those ineligible are felons and people (1) addicted to controlled substances, (2) discharged under dishonorable conditions from the U.S. Armed Forces, or (3) adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution.”
Then there’s the penalty for violations. According to Rose and Reilly, “imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both” are the punishments for “possessing an unregistered machine gun.”
What all of this means is that “machine guns,” as in guns that fire automatically, are incredibly expensive, and wildly difficult to get ahold of due to FOPA and other restrictions.
In spite of known law, we have people like Seth MacFarlane, whose remarks have massive reach, telling flat lies. Looking to the retweets and likes, at least 40,000 people are under the same erroneous belief as MacFarlane.
This is obviously a severe underestimation, as the sample size is only a portion of a single social media platform. There are certainly many more who believe that “machine guns” are available to purchase at your local gun store.
Case in point: A Facebook friend recently posted about how the Democratic sit-in and hashtag floods that followed (#NoBillNoBreak and #HoldTheFloor) were the kind of “common sense movements” the United States was built upon, “not the right to own an unregistered machine gun.”
First, automatic firearms aren’t readily available to civilians. So, that’s just factually incorrect. Second, I’m fairly certain that the use of personal firearms was a critical aspect of America’s independence. That’s why the amendment following the one that secures our rights to free speech, religion, assembly, and press is the one that guarantees our ability to protect those rights.
Now, to MacFarlane’s other tweet. Never once has a person with a concealed firearm stopped a shooting? Never once? What about the Chicago Uber driver who stopped Everardo Custodio during his attempted mass-shooting in Logan Square? What about the man from Spartanburg who stopped Jesse Gates after he entered his church with a shotgun? What about the Colorado Springs woman who stopped Matthew Murray during his mass-shooting attempt?
I could go on.
Examples of civilians using concealed firearms to stop potentially devastating mass-shootings are ample.
A war of ideas cannot be properly waged if the terrain on which the war is being fought is muddy. Before liberals crow about guns, they should take more than 60 seconds to inform themselves. A cursory Google search is all that’s necessary to find accurate information regarding guns, and gun control.