Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Gun Demagoguery at the New York Post

The New York Post "reports" that an illegal cache of AK-47s was seized in Italy from a Turkish ship bound for New York. Along with such meaningless scare terms as "terrorist-grade rifles" and "combat-style weapons" and an apparent confusion of the word "cartridge" for "magazine", the article ends with the following three sentences:

    "The assault weapons are a favorite with terrorists: Osama bin Laden sported one in the now-infamous footage of him taken after 9/11.

    AK-47s also have been the weapon of choice for some infamous military-minded wackos, such as the teens who shot up Columbine HS in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.

    The United States has banned such military-style semiautomatic weapons since 1994. The law preventing them from being manufactured, imported or sold here expires in September."

The first of these is literally true but misleadingly irrelevant. The AK-47 is a Soviet-era firearm that is compact, reliable and inexpensive. As such it is popular throughout the world for legitimate governments as well as terrorists. For the same reasons it is popular with the few gun collectors who are able to obtain them legally.

The second sentence is blatantly incorrect. Dylan Kleibold and Eric Harris were armed with a semi-automatic pistol, a 9mm carbine rifle and two shotguns. Neither of them had an AK-47, nor would they have been able to afford them since the national "assault weapons" ban. In fact such weapons have rarely been used in such mass-killings, since they are rather difficult to conceal. They are certainly not the "weapons of choice" for such massacres.

Finally, the obvious threat implied in the last sentence is that these evil weapons will soon be hitting the streets of New York and the rest of America, so you better watch out! Please.

The sad thing is that this isn't even a particularly left-leaning paper.

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