November 28, 2004

Coming To Terms With Gun Control

One of the biggest problems pro-gunners (& especially Absolutists) face is public relations. Good old fashioned PR. We keep getting our asses kicked on it & there are a few reasons why.

One of the most prevalent is that terms we either take for granted or don't know exists wind up being used against us. Take "pistol grip" for instance. A few months back there was much talk over a sporting shotgun that was gifted to Sen. Kerry having been subject to a weapons ban he co-sponsored. One of the main talking points was whether or not his shotgun had a pistol grip or not. It did but most people, including some avid gun toting folks, didn't realize it.

Now the term "pistol grip" had been used amongst gun makers & owners since sometime in the mid 19th century, but the anti-gun crowd in the past few decades did such an effective job of commandeering our language that a lot of people thought the gun control lobby's definition was the correct one. So let's look at a few terms that the anti-gun lobby has used to our detriment, along with the actual definition of each term:

Pistol Grip

The anti-gun lobby's definition - A conspicuously protruding grip underneath the action of the gun, usually with a sharp angle, designed to allow accurate spray fire from the hip without the need to aim.

The actual definition - An area underneath or behind the receiver that is curved or angled to facilitate a better grip with the strong hand.

Assault Weapon

The anti-gun lobby's definition - A firearm that bears a physical resemblance to a military weapon & therefore possesses the same capabilities as the military weapon is most closely resembles. It is usually implied if not outright stated that machine guns are what's being discussed, despite every anti "assault weapons" law dealing only with semi-automatic firearms.

The actual definition - Federally none. (At least as of September 13th, 2004) Some states still have "assault weapon" bans in place. A working definition would simply be a semi-automatic firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine that possesses a certain number of cosmetic features, such as a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the firearm or a bayonet lug.

The term "assault weapon" was derived from assault rifle. An assault rifle is a selective fire firearm chambered for an intermediate powered cartridge & possessing dimensions that are less cumbersome than a full sized rifle. Hitler coined the phrase when he named the StG-44. But as will be shown in our next example the anti gun lobby is not ashamed to borrow terms from genocidal maniacs or racists to further their goals.

Saturday Night Special

The anti's - A cheap handgun (in terms of price) that will flood the poorer neighborhoods & cause an increase in violence involving firearms.

The actual definition - First, we must recognize that the origin of the term is Niggertown Saturday Night. “Saturday night special” is merely a variant on that phrase. Next, we must look at who would be most affected by a ban on these firearms - poor people. Simply put, it's a phrase designed to vilify handguns that poor people can afford that came about through altering a racist term. But then again gun control, racism & elitism have usually been linked.

High Powered

The anti's - Any firearm that can cause damage to an object it hits. For example the SKS & AR-15 are high powered assault weapons.

The actual definition - A cartridge that produces a certain amount of energy &/or velocity from a rifle. There is no distinct number for either velocity or energy but generally rifle cartridges that fire a 150 grain projectile close to 3,000 feet per second would be considered high power. Also High Power is the title of a very popular type of rifle competition. But to provide examples a .30-06 Springfield or a .300 Winchester Magnum would be considered high power. The 7.62x39 (the cartridge most often used in the SS & AK-47 variants) & the 5.56x45 (very similar, but not identical to the .223 Remington & used in most AR-15 type rifles) would be considered intermediate cartridges. & the cartridge, not the firearm is what the term refers to.

Point Blank Range

The anti's - A distance very very close.

The actual definition - The distance which you can shoot & hit a certain sized target without adjusting your sights. Let's say you have a rifle chambered in .30-06 that shoots 2" groups at 100 yards & you're shooting at a target that's 10 inches in diameter. Let's also say that you have your sights set so the bullet will hit 4" high at 100 yards. That means you can aim at the top of the target & hit it at a distance of 335 yards or so without adjusting the sights (assuming you're firing a 168 grain boat tail hollow point with a ballistic coefficient of .450 at roughly 2,650 feet per second with sight 1.5" above the center of the bore). That's point blank range. It's not only cartridge dependent, but target dependent as well. Using our above example if our target was only 5 inches in diameter, then our point blank range would drop to 75 yards unless we altered our sights before hand (as the above listed example would hit a height of 4" at 100 yards & with the 2" variable of the rifle that'd mean at the 3 inch mar we'd have to alter our sights to make a hit on the target). If we changed it to hit 2.5" high at 100 yards then our point blank range for a 5 inch diameter target would be around 260 yards.

Most gun owners are not aware of the actual definition & instead have taken the anti's version as gospel. This is even sadder as the anti's definition is all implication. I have never heard an anti or reporter (wait- that was redundant) explain exactly what point blank range is, only that the term is used to imply that the distance was short, say within a few feet. On a man sized target one should assume that the point blank range for any rifle cartridge is at least 200 yards, & with most pistol cartridges at least 75 yards if not 100. Even the lowly .22 Long Rifle has a point blank range of roughly 140 yards (assuming a 12 inch tall torso is being shot at). It's just not nearly as descriptive a term as most people think.

Junk Guns

The anti's - Inexpensive handguns that are not safe due to their low price & are the choice of criminals in low income areas.

The actual definition - As with "Saturday night special" this term is used to drive prohibitions on firearms that are most accessible to those with limited means. The firearms usually labeled as "junk guns" are affordable for most people at prices of $150 or less. The quality of workmanship will not be on par with a firearm costing two to three times what the cheaper guns cost, nor will it stand up to as much use before certain parts wear down. But it will serve its main purpose which is to provide a way for people to defend themselves if they can't afford a more quality firearm. The term itself is an anti-gun lobby invention but its based on a very old premise: disarm the peasants.

Cop Killer Bullet

The anti's - A bullet that will penetrate a bullet proof vest, thus enabling a criminal to kill cops despite their bullet proof armor.

The actual definition - Again this is a term made up by the anti-gun lobby. It relies on a misunderstanding of how bullet proof vests work to achieve the purpose of banning firearms chambered for certain cartridges, or to at minimum ban certain types of ammo.

Bullet proof vests are rated for certain purposes. There is no vest that will stop any & all projectiles fired at it. What the manufacturers of these vests do is give it a rating which means that most of the time a vest with a certain rating will stop certain types of projectiles fired by handguns & in a few cases rifles. Even with a vest rated to stop a .44 magnum you can alter the type of projectile or increase its velocity or weight & defeat a bullet proof vest. when it comes to rifles there are only a few vests that will stop one shot from certain rifle cartridges, & that is accomplished by using ceramic plates in the targeted area 9along with having the vest weigh about 15 pounds). To put it more in perspective, the .30-30 lever action your granddaddy used to hunt deer with will penetrate the majority of bullet proof vests. So will most muzzleloaders that your great great great great great granddaddy used to hunt deer or fight the redcoats. It's simple physics: a vest rated to stop a projectile with a certain amount of kinetic energy will not stop another projectile with more kinetic energy.

So "cop killer bullets" could be (& has been attempted to) construed to cover any & all rifle cartridges as well as a good portion of handgun cartridges used primarily for hunting since its implied definition is simply anything that will penetrate a bullet proof vest.

Sniper Rifle

The anti's - A rifle having the ability to hit a human being at a great range, usually aided by a scope & in such a powerful cartridge that severe injury or death at long distance is possible.

The actual definition - Your hunting rifle, if you take the anti-gun lobby's definition to its logical conclusion.

A sniper rifle as used in the military sense is simply a military rifle (or one altered for military use) that enables a sniper to perform his duties. A certain level of accuracy is required as is a certain level of power in the cartridge, but depending upon the requirements of the specific unit any bolt action hunting rifle chambered in .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield can be made into one with little effort. The main concerns are getting the rifle to shoot acceptable groups (usually around 1 inch at 100 yards, but sometimes smaller depending on the criteria for the unit) & utilize a telescopic sight. About $150 at a gunsmiths shop will turn a Remington 700 in .30-06 into a rifle that could be used by a military or police sniper. Where the duality comes in is that many hunters use rifles that could be handed straight to a military or police sniper without any modification whatsoever.

"Sniper rifle" is merely a term used by the anti-gun lobby to vilify rifles commonly used in hunting & competition, since the criteria for all three endeavors sometimes overlap. It's just a way to desensitize the public to bans on hunting guns. The term's use isn't that different in operation from how they use "assault weapons" to justify bans.

These are not all the terms that the anti-gun lobby has used with devastating effect against us. But it should give you a good idea of how we're getting our ass kicked in the PR war we're fighting. To be fair the anti-gun lobby would include most of the mainstream press as well as the gun control groups themselves, since many articles in papers are little more than re-worded press releases from those groups. The mainstream media's understanding of firearms is largely based on information provided by the gun control groups. For whatever reason we have not been that effective in educating journalists as to the technical facts involved in the various issues concerning gun control & gun Rights. This is to our detriment, as a good portion of the public learns about firearms through the mainstream media. I admit at times I was misinformed by a new story over one issue or another. Looking back over those terms I think you'll recognize one or two that you or someone you know was mislead by at some point.

That's how effective their efforts have been: even gun owners have been known to accept their terms at face value.

The only suggestion I have is to thin about the words being used before you start your arguments. It's not always easy, but it'd be preferable to correct an inappropriate definition before moving to the substance of the argument. In some cases by citing the correct definition or pointing out the nonsensical definition being used, you can have the argument right there. After all, if a person is decrying the "point blank range" of a shooting with an "assault weapon" their argument falls apart when you explain what "point blank range" is, point out that most muzzleloaders have a "point blank range" of 100+ yards on a human sized target, & then proceed to show that "assault weapon" has no meaningful definition.

What we need to do is alter the nature of the debate. We need to stop playing defensively & put the anti-gun lobby in that position. It will meet with little success if we continue to allow them to define the terms we use when we argue with them.

Posted by Publicola at November 28, 2004 03:55 PM

Great post!

Posted by: Thibodeaux at November 29, 2004 07:49 AM

Good post.

Another point that I'd make, is "teflon-coating" or "armor-piercing". Goes in with the "Cop Killer Bullet".

Most people don't understand how polymer body armor (it's not "bulletproof") works. It "catches" the bullet, (hopefully), dissipating the energy into breaking fiber strands, and spreading the impact over a greater area of the body. Kevlar, Spectra, are super-strong polymers - but in one direction, the orientation of the fiber only. (Kevlar and Nomex are isomers, they're the same chemical, but with a differing molecular construction. Nomex is nowhere as strong, and so has more cross-strength, thus usable for clothing.. but even the NASCAR suits wear out fast).
Teflon coating *retards* penetration into kevlar. Something like 10-15%, IIRC. It's been a long time since I was in the field. :)
Most projectiles out of modern guns are fired with rifling, and are spinning at 10k RPM or the like - they're able to tear their way through the polymer strands (remember how the strength is oriented). (this is why body armor has multiple sheets, and also why there's a life expectancy on the actual armor, as wearing it vibrates the sheets against each other, degrading performance). Applying teflon, which reduces friction (non-stick?), degrades that ability dramatically.
The confusion came about when someone in the late 60s or early 70s IIRC, developed armor-piercing loads for the police - using steel projectiles (which won't deform in the barrel easily) - and so made them slightly undersized, with teflon coating, so the round (as hard as the steel in the barrel), wouldn't erode the barrel, but would be able to ride it down with much less friction. Steel projectiles don't deform and mushroom as much as lead does - so they can go through armor with far more effect. "Teflon coating" is what was remembered by Hollywood as some magic body-armor dissipator.
(Disclaimer: Of course, teflon, kevlar, nomex all are DuPont names, and I'm sure copyrighted out the wazoo and all)

Posted by: Addison at November 29, 2004 10:43 AM

Good list.
Don't forget,"high capacity magazines" when what they,(we), mean "standard capacity magazines".
As in a 15 round mag. for a Browning high power.

Posted by: Dennis at November 29, 2004 12:06 PM

Some pretty good pro-Second Amendment P.R. can be found in Judge Napolitano's new book Constitutional Chaos. It is a surprising and refreshing read about our Constitutional rights, with an entire chapter devoted to the Second Amendment. The entire book focuses on government abuses of power. It is very powerful stuff.

Posted by: newsman at December 11, 2004 05:11 PM
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