Video: Don Lemon claims "most people" can buy automatic weapons in America

Via our colleagues at Twitchy, here’s a demonstration of why the national media is so bad at covering Second Amendment issues. CNN’s Don Lemon is normally not a bad anchor, but he’s clearly out of his depth in this debate — and what’s worse, refuses to recognize that he’s out of his depth even when it’s being made painfully clear to him by Ben Ferguson. Lemon himself all but declares his ignorance of firearms while delivering an indictment of the US based on the supposed free availability of a commodity that’s actually so tightly controlled it’s impossible to acquire without government intervention.

FERGUSON: The law says that you and I can’t just randomly go out and buy an automatic weapon, so let’s deal with the facts here. A semiautomatic weapon is gun that you and I are allowed to own, and in different places they have different rules. But to imply that anyone can walk out and buy an automatic weapon is just not true, Don.

LEMON: What do you mean anyone can’t wa— Listen, during the theater shooting in Colorado, I was able to go and buy an automatic weapon, and I, you know, have maybe shot a gun, three, four times in my life. I don’t even live in Colorado. I think most people can go out and buy an automatic weapon. I don’t understand your argument there.

Lemon doesn’t understand the argument because Lemon hasn’t bothered to do even basic research into the classes of firearms before lecturing viewers and Ferguson on them. The point, to the extent that Lemon has one here, is that he thinks anyone can walk off the street and get military weapons at any time, which is preposterous — and a strange argument indeed for the story in Ferguson, Missouri, where most of the concern has been about the militarization of police, not the citizenry. The kind of weapons that Americans can buy today are the same kind of weapons they could buy thirty years ago and even sixty years ago. Access to semiautomatic weapons is neither novel or significant.

Ferguson tried to explain that, but Lemon felt the need to urgently communicate his complete ignorance on the topic, claiming that the difference is “semantics” (via The Blaze):

“Let me finish, Ben. But listen. I think you are getting into semantics. Regardless of what you want to call it, an automatic or a semi-automatic weapon.”

“It’s a big deal,” Ferguson interrupted. “It’s the difference between breaking the law and not breaking the law.”

The difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons is hardly semantic. As Ben tried to explain, semi-automatic weapons and revolvers have one important commonality: only one shot gets fired for every trigger pull. In fact, one can shoot a double-action revolver at the same rate as a semi-automatic pistol, although the latter will have magazines with larger capacities. Even that can be mitigated with quick-loaders and some practice for owners of revolvers. Automatic weapons, on the other hand, can fire multiple rounds with just one trigger pull, which makes them so dangerous that it takes a special license from the federal government to own one, and those are rarely granted.  They really are much more dangerous and have the potential to cause a lot more damage in a short period of time … which is why the law severely restricts access to them.

The third person in this conversation, Van Jones, knew enough to mostly keep his mouth shut. Lemon should have followed his lead. This problem of ignorance on firearms and weapons laws is not limited to Lemon, though, which is why defending gun rights takes so much effort. Lemon’s irresponsible and uninformed rhetoric does not belong on a news broadcast, but unfortunately all too commonly appears on them, and not just at CNN.

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