On Sunday, Aug. 11, The New York Times ran an op-ed titled, “Joe Biden: Banning Assault Weapons Works.” The headline, like the content, is a hash of half-truths, unsupported claims and loaded language intended to hoodwink those of us horrified by mass shootings, in the hope that we’re too busy with daily life to fact-check it.
For example: Biden claims, “We have a huge problem with guns.” Of course, you will find no reports of guns stalking women, invading homes or engaging in turf shootouts. People do these things. In academic circles, Biden’s claim is called anthropomorphism, or ascribing human characteristics to inanimate objects. It’s a literary device, not fact.
Data is not on Biden’s side, either. Research is often mind-numbing, but an entertaining article by BJ Campbell confirms, “There is no clear correlation whatsoever between gun ownership rate and gun homicide rate. Not within the U.S. Not regionally. Not internationally.” It’s worth the read, but if you’re not inclined to do so, consider that the U.S. gun homicide rates have been falling since the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, domestic gun sales have skyrocketed (especially during the Obama/Biden administration). Correlate that, Joe.
Biden also asserts that “Assault weapons — military-style firearms designed to fire rapidly — are a threat to our national security.” His description is deliberately meant to confuse AR-15s with machine guns, which they are not. They work identically to your grandfather’s semi-auto pheasant gun: One trigger pull = one round fired. It will surprise those not well-acquainted with firearms that not one U.S. mass killing has been perpetrated with a machine gun — not even Las Vegas.
Biden’s usage of “military-style” wording sounds ominous, but he stops short of claiming AR-15s are military guns. In truth, no organized military in the world goes to war equipped with AR-15s precisely because they are not machine guns. Yet Biden is unashamed when he hypes them as “weapons of war.”
How does the AR-15, the most popular rifle in America, constitute “a threat to our national security?” Best estimates place about 16 million AR-15s in the hands of U.S. civilians, yet their use in homicide is so rare that the FBI doesn’t even track them. Instead, FBI data lumps them in with all other types of rifles — which are used in less than 4% of U.S. gun homicides.
Most preposterous is Biden’s claim that “the 1994 assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans worked.” However, his vaunted ban was allowed to sunset 10 years later precisely
because it didn’t work. There was, and remains, no credible data that it reduced gun homicides.
It is not news that Biden didn’t really write this op-ed: Politicians rarely write their own columns (does anyone believe Biden knows how to link to other content?). The question becomes,
then, who did? I won’t speculate, but I would note that the language is identical to the messaging of groups like Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, who never met a gun restriction they didn’t like.
It’s no secret that it will be impossible to secure the Democratic presidential nomination unless one supports more gun control. Otherwise, there is simply no money to be raised from the party’s big donors—like Bloomberg.
Consequently, to rise above the crowd, Biden must bolster his gun-control bona fides. He claims that Trump “repealed a rule President Obama and I put in place to help keep guns out of the hands of people with certain mental illnesses.” He’s referring to overreaching Social Security Administration rules that would have put the benefits of hundreds of thousands of seniors at risk for, say, designating a family member to help pay their bills. SSA deemed such seniors “unfit to handle their own affairs” and would strip them of their right to purchase, or own, a gun—without consulting a judge or doctor. Even the ACLU opposed it.
My father once told me to beware of taking advice from someone with something to sell. With this propaganda, Biden is selling us — Biden, for President. Seen in this light, the half-truth in his headline is clear: “Banning Assault Weapons Works”—Not to make us any safer, but perhaps to get Biden nominated.
Clay Turner has been a resident of Colorado Springs since 1996. For 19 years, he produced America’s 1st Freedom magazine, an Official Journal of the NRA dedicated to the political and social issues surrounding the Second Amendment. He can be reached at email@example.com.