The Loose Cannon Libertarian
There once was a proper young English miss named Alice Pleasance. She, according to Lewis Carroll biographers, was the real-life inspiration for a fictional Alice who tumbled down a rabbit hole and commenced a tour of a riotous realm called Wonderland.
During her wanderings, she encountered an egg named Humpty Dumpty and came away with a memorable sound bite.
Declaimed Mr. Dumpty, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
When politicians pontificate, and news writers report it, members of these two tribes often adhere to the Old Ovoid's opinion - words mean just what they choose them to mean.
A favorite phrase of these public persuaders is "assault weapon."
If a DC blowhard wants to pass a bill with no other motive than to get his name appended to a piece of legislation, he can always blather on about the threat of "assault weapons." He almost certainly doesn't know the difference between a nonfunctional lever-action carbine reproduction and an actual assault weapon. Likely, neither does the reporter snooping for a scoop.
But it doesn't matter. It plays well on the floor of the House, in the gun-hater's handout, and in the pages of the Hometown Herald.
Assault weapons, being scary-looking to some, attract professional scaremongers. When people like David Kopel, associate policy analyst for the Cato Institute, notes that "no more than 0.8 percent of homicides are perpetrated with rifles using military calibers" (i.e., assault weapons), it doesn't stop the scaremongers from christening everything that even looks like a long-barreled gun an "assault weapon." (Note: That's "point 8 percent," not 8 percent.)
It's a game, of course, and there are two things that give the game away. If, as history reports, assault weapons were developed for assault troops to assault enemies with, what are self-defense weapons?
Why do we never read stories of homeowners driving off thugs with a "self-defense weapon"? If an "assault weapon" is used for self-defense, doesn't that make it a "self-defense weapon"?
Where is the news article of the carjacking victim beating off his assailant with a self-defense nine iron?
Why haven't we heard newscasts of a would-be rape victim defending herself with a self-defense spike heel?
The other game-giver-awayer is: Where are all the other assault weapons? If a firearm used in an assault is an assault weapon, why aren't all other weapons used in assaults called assault weapons?
Wouldn't a brick used to attack a person be an assault brick?
Shouldn't hate speech be called assault words?
Shouldn't a hand signal flashed during a road-rage incident be called an assault finger?
Another favorite derogatory term deployed against another favorite hate object by the anti-gun Marx-huggers is "Saturday night special." The term simply describes an inexpensively constructed and cost-effective handgun for people who can't afford a Glock or a Beretta for their self-defense needs.
But there are many inexpensively constructed and cost-effective products in the world. Why is a handgun the only product called a "Saturday night special"?
Where do we test-drive the new four-cylinder, five-speed Kia Rio Saturday Knight Special?
Where does a poor woman go to get a Saturday Night Special Facial?
Where can we order a Double Meat Double Cheese Saturday Nite Special with Dill Pickles and Secret Sauce?
And when will we be reading a crime report like this?
"Hometown Herald - A pair of assault thugs stole a Ford Saturday Night Special Crew Cab and drove it through the front door of the Saturday Nyte Special 99 Cent Store. They attacked the ATM with an assault crowbar, but the shop owner drove them off with a small self-defense assaultin' pepperbox revolver."
(About that assaultin' pepperbox: If His Eggship Sir Dumpty were here, he would say that it means "just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.")
Garry Reed's articles have appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, LP News and other print and online publications.
Garry Reed is a longtime advocate of the libertarian philosophy of noncoercion that espouses personal autonomy and individual responsibility, civil rights and economic liberty, maximum freedom and minimum government. His Web site is FreeCannon.com.