In case you missed it on Sunday, the New York Post published a rather unexpected editorial beseeching the President to “act now” and support a ban on “assault rifles.” The Post’s editorial board has traditionally been rather consistent in supporting Second Amendment rights, so this move caught many of us off guard. They are, of course, free to endorse any sort of legislation they wish, but in this case, they tripped over their own feet when attempting to describe precisely how such a ban would be crafted. This was noticed immediately by Charles C.W. Cook at National Review, who took them to task for their “nonsensical and profoundly lazy” approach to the subject.
The New York Post’s editorial board has written a fawning open letter to President Trump in which it asks him to “ban assault weapons now.” It is, from start to finish, a profoundly lazy, impressively ignorant, and doggedly cliché-ridden piece of work that at no point even attempts to deal seriously with the arguments that it believes it is refuting.
Its primary flaw is a chronic — perhaps even proud — lack of precision. The editors acknowledge that the term “assault weapon” “doesn’t actually describe a clear class of guns,” but then demand that the ban they covet be predicated upon “a clear definition focused on factors like firepower — rate of fire, muzzle velocity, etc. — not on cosmetic features.”
Cooke is, of course, correct. I don’t know if someone broke in, tied up the editors at the Post and published this under a pirate flag or if they’ve just had a change of heart, but the arguments being made in that editorial are specious and repeatedly contradict themselves.
They make a point of saying that bans shouldn’t be based on purely cosmetic features of firearms, and that’s something most gun rights supporters would agree with. But they then go on to claim that they’re only looking to ban rifles based on technical factors such as firepower, rate of fire and muzzle velocity. As Cooke notes, that doesn’t create an “assault rifle” ban. It creates a rifle ban.
The firepower and muzzle velocity of your average .223 load AR-15 are well below firearms packing some of the seriously powerful cartridges and on par with other “non-assault” rifles. As to the rate of fire, it’s precisely the same as any other semiautomatic weapon of any type. The rate of fire is determined by how quickly you can pull the trigger.
Cooke goes on to note one of the really daft assertions made in the Post editorial. Here’s how it reads:
“The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to own “guns in common use.” That doesn’t cover the semiautomatic weapons regularly used only in mass shootings.”
The “guns in common use” phrase comes from the Heller decision. I don’t know if the editors bothered to check the statistics, but if they had they would have learned that the rifles they are seeking to ban are among the most popular in the nation. They are in very “common use” indeed. To say that they are “regularly used only in mass shootings” is simply laughable.
And finally, the editors toss out a mocking jab at those expressing concerns over a potential slippery slope following such a ban. Have they forgotten that they are based in New York City? New York has been allowed to enact some of the most draconian gun laws in the country, to the point where it’s virtually impossible to get a handgun permit in the city and even more difficult to transport your firearm outside your home if you do manage to get one. That slope is not only real, but New York has already slid to the bottom of it.
If the New York Post wants to change their tune and join in with the gun grabbers, that’s their prerogative. But don’t try to hide behind the nonsensical arguments more commonly put forward by Democrats trying to sneak something past us. “Assault rifle” bans are based on cosmetic factors alone, so stop trying to pretend otherwise.