Why would a gun-control advocate want to buy an AR-15?

We haven’t blogged this yet but many of you know about it, I assume, from reading Breitbart.com, which has been all over it. In a nutshell: Mark Kelly walked into a gun store a few weeks ago and bought two weapons, one a Sig Sauer 45 pistol and the other a, er, Sig Sauer assault rifle, news of which was subsequently leaked to Breitbart. CNN invited him on to ask him about it and Kelly accepted. Why’s he buying guns that he thinks should be banned? Simple, said Kelly to Wolf Blitzer. As a prominent spokesman for gun control, he needs to know firsthand just how easy it is for someone to walk in off the street and purchase an incredibly dangerous weapon. Why he needs this firsthand knowledge, I have no idea. No one on either side is disputing that it’s easy to buy an AR-15 if you have no criminal record; there’s a new story on the wires every day about how they’re selling like hot cakes coast to coast. The whole point of the gun debate is that gun-rights advocates think it should be easy to get one. (Also, if he thinks there’s been a significant gap in his gun knowledge until now due to his lack of personal experience, why has he been out there trying to set national policy?) But okay — let’s give him the benefit of the doubt by assuming that he was just curious to see how simple it was.

In that case, why’d he buy a second-hand rifle, which made the process harder? A.W.R. Hawkins wonders:

The “local ordinances” that apply to the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm AR-style rifle required that the AR-15 be placed on hold for 20 days because it was second-hand. If Kelly’s goal was to show how easy the background check system really is, why didn’t he buy a new “assault rifle” so he could take possession of it immediately, thereby allowing him to finish the background check on day he originally walked into the store–March 5?

When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Kelly on Monday what it was like going into a gun store and “buying an AR-15.” Kelly said that for such a “deadly” weapon, “especially with the high capacity magazines, it’s a pretty easy thing to do, even with the background check.”…

Kelly has openly stated that his plan from the beginning was to buy such a firearm and hand it over to the police (even though, as Breitbart News reported, under pending legislation the police would likely have to sell the AR-15 rather than destroying it, returning it to the streets).

In that case, wouldn’t any AR-style rifle do?

Right. If you want to prove that a nut whose record is clean can get a dangerous weapon quickly, just walk in and ask the seller what he can give you from Dianne Feinstein’s list that’ll put an assault rifle in your hands ASAP. Subjecting himself to a 20-day waiting period ends up proving the opposite, that the dealer in this case is scrupulous about observing local gun laws and that it’s difficult to grab an AR-15 as an impulse buy if you’re purchasing it second-hand. It’s more plausible that he sincerely wanted the gun and was hoping to get a price break on it by buying it used than that he was trying to “prove” something.

But then, you don’t need to reach the circumstances of the AR-15 purchase to find the “lesson” here odd. Watch the clip below and you’ll see Kelly say that he plans to keep the Sig Sauer pistol he bought. If he’s serious about reducing gun violence, though, why give semiautomatic pistols a pass? The lunatic who shot his wife didn’t use an assault rifle, he used a Glock 9 mm with a high-capacity magazine. And if he hadn’t accidentally dropped a second magazine while he was trying to reload, he would have been able to keep firing despite there being a crowd of people around him. Needless to say, Kelly has every right to protect himself and his wife, especially after what happened, but the logic by which a rapid-fire, potentially high-capacity weapon becomes more acceptable if it’s smaller, easier to carry, and more readily concealable escapes me. It’s like supporting vegetarianism by declaring buffalo and shark strictly off-limits but making an exception for chicken and beef. If you want to make a point about gun control, why not reject all semiautomatics and stick to revolvers?

Update: Via Ace: “He thinks they trust him with Space Shuttle but that it’s a scandal that he could pass a quick background check to buy a rifle?”

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