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THE DEMISE OF COMMON SENSE

Nicki Fellenzer


NickiI got a good laugh recently when I read a Baltimore Sun opinion column by one Arthur J. Magida. Now, I understand that opinions are like certain parts of the human anatomy – everyone has one, and they all stink. But this one, in particular, was so filled with paranoid hysteria (or hysterical paranoia), vacuous emotionalism and brainless blather, that I had to share.

It’s an indication of the type of enemy we face – brainless, gutless, but nonetheless, determined. Logic and common sense are on our side in this debate, and this column proves it. So the question is: why are we losing? Why are we gradually being deprived of our rights, when our opponents are so hysterical, so easily debunked and so completely devoid of any logic?

Just take a look at this rant – typical of those who seek to deprive us of our rights.

“DESPITE SEPT. 11, 2001, changing the calculus of our lives, little attention has gone to a looming deadline that'll make this country even more hospitable to really bad guys: the expiration in September of the federal ban on assault weapons.”

You know, there really should be a Godwin’s Law equivalent for dragging the September 11th tragedy into debate. Never mind that this well-beaten strawman has absolutely nothing to do with the assault weapons debate. Never mind that it’s a transparent and quite idiotic ploy to draw attention away from the topic at hand and stir up the emotions of the reader, making him more receptive to the empty rhetoric to follow – that the sunset of the assault weapons ban will somehow make America “more hospitable to really bad guys.” (Childish dumbing down of emotionalist vitriol retained.)

Fact: Criminal use of so-called “assault weapons” has been, and remains, miniscule.

Fact: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the preferred choice of weapons for thugs who use firearms is an easily-concealable, large caliber handgun.

Oh, but Mr. Magida, don’t let the facts stop you from misrepresenting your case from the very beginning. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have an article to write.

The next bit of insanity comes straight out of the Nazi playbook: “For some legislators, a decade minus certain weapons that lack any conceivable recreational use - unless you consider homicide to be a recreational sport - was just enough to earn their vote.” And no, Godwin’s law does not apply here, since the particular law is completely relevant to the discussion at hand. The Nazi Weapons Law (18 March, 1938) proclaimed: "It is forbidden to manufacture ... and to import: Firearms which fold-down, break-down, are collapsible, or are speedily dismantled -- beyond the common limits of hunting and sporting activities -- ..." Section 21 of the Nazi Law (and its enforcing regulations) employed the "sporting use" exception also where they permitted licensed persons to carry "firearms, designed for -- and usually used for -- the hunting of fair game." In this same paragraph, Magida implies that anyone who owns what he describes as an “assault” weapon must be homicidal and murderous.

Fact: There are plenty of situations in which these weapons are an invaluable tool – even if we did allow Mr. Magida’s little Nazi rhetoric to taint our debate. These guns are easy to operate and are reliable in a number of outdoor and training situations. They are accurate and many times used by hunters and in private security training.

Fact: During the 1992 L.A. riots, a number of Korean store owners effectively used these weapons to defend their lives and property. Curiously, those were the stores that DIDN’T get burned to the ground and those were the people who WEREN’T dragged out and violently victimized by rioters.

Fact: Prior to the 1994 Clinton ban, prior to the Gun Control Act of 1968 and prior even to the National Firearms Act of 1934, regular Americans owned and enjoyed shooting the very weapons at the thought of which he wets himself today. No, there were no bloodbaths in the streets. And no, people were not dying daily at the hands of machine gun owners.

Fact: The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that about 8 percent of the inmates surveyed said they owned a military-type weapon, such as an Uzi, AK-47, AR-15 or M-16. Less than ONE PERCENT had used said weapon in a crime. This survey was done in 1991 – BEFORE the Clinton ban.

Fact: In 1993, prior to the passage of the Clinton ban, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, reported that about one percent of the estimated 200 million guns in circulation were “assault” weapons. In 1995, over 240,000 automatic weapons were registered with the ATF. As of March, 1995, the NCIC stolen gun file contained reports on about 7,700 machine guns and submachine guns. So maybe .03 percent of these weapons had been stolen.

You do the math, Mr. Magida. What the above facts tell you that these guns in the hands of peaceable citizens are no more a threat than kitchen knives or baseball bats. What the facts also tell you is that even the criminals don’t bother using these guns in crime. They’re uncomfortable and obvious, much like your agenda.

Oh, but the laughs just keep on coming!

Mr. Magida’s next statements are so laughable and absurd that it’s difficult to even take him seriously.

“Anyone who has effective gun control in his or her sights needs to take a walk around town to figure out why the law not only should remain on the books, but be strengthened,” he laments. “If U.N. inspectors had visited certain Baltimore neighborhoods, they may have found more weapons of mass destruction there than they did in Iraq.”

“With luck, the U.N. Security Council could have stemmed some of the 271 murders that occurred in Baltimore last year, up by 18 from 2002. Too many of these were from multiple gunshots, clearly a statement from the drug dealers responsible for the high murder rate regarding the consequences of getting on their wrong side.”

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), weapons of mass destruction are defined as: Nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. I used to live in Baltimore. I went to school there, and graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 1993. I used to walk home alone at 2:00 am after a night of bartending, back to my home in Charles Village from the Inner Harbor. Not once did I ever see street thugs use nuclear, biological or chemical weapons against the citizens of Baltimore. From what I saw, most of them couldn’t afford those types of weapons.

Get a clue, Mr. Magida – MULTIPLE GUN SHOTS DO NOT NECESSARILY EQUAL AUTOMATIC WEAPONS OR “ASSAULT” RIFLES. The use of regular handguns – semi-automatic and revolvers - can be just as responsible for high murder rates, and probably more so, given the criminals’ penchant for easily concealable weapons.

But facts, once again, do not matter here. The comparison between so-called “assault” weapons and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons is not meant to be rational, truthful or sincere. It’s meant to instill panic. It’s meant to divert the reader’s attention from the facts at hand and inflame their ire at something they, their legislators and the police are powerless to control.

And on Magida goes, playing to fear, aggravating emotions and attempting to elicit panic and divert attention from reason and logic.

“Since federal law only bans pistols with two or more military-style features (a flash suppressor, a forward pistol grip or a grenade launcher), plenty of these weapons are in the wrong hands. And now so many guns are being manufactured that mimic assault weapons - legally, given the current law's loopholes - that the Washington-area snipers paralyzed an entire region with a Model XM15 manufactured by Bushmaster, a Maine company that once catered exclusively to sportsmen.”

Ah! Another bogey man trotted out and dangled in front of a scared populace – the Washington “snipers.”

Fact: The stolen rifle used by John Mohammad and Lee Boyd Malvo was no more powerful than a squirrel gun.

Fact: A ban on high-capacity magazines would have done nothing to prevent the DC area slaughters, since a single shot was fired at each location.

Fact: The federal travesty banning these weapons has been woefully ineffective in stemming their use in crime. As a matter of fact, the insignificant number used in criminal activity prior to the ban increased slightly after the ban’s implementation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“With nearly two-thirds of Marylanders favoring a ban on selling assault weapons, the bill should sail through Annapolis.”

Well, gosh, Mr. Magida, if nearly two-thirds of Marylanders favored segregation of blacks or the mass slaughter of Jews, would you support their cause as just simply because the majority of them happen to be ignorant, fascist hemorrhoids?

“But Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who's called gun control a ‘fringe issue,’ prefers stiffer sentences for gun crimes to actually keeping guns out of the wrong hands.”

That’s because the definition of “the wrong hands” that you and your hoplophobic friends in Annapolis apparently like to perpetuate apparently means “anyone’s hands but the government and its agents.

“Apparently, he'd rather let the market determine what sells and what doesn't and then trust what consumers will do with their shiny new weapons. The governor's faith in human nature is admirable; his knowledge about what happens when despicable weapons end up with despicable people is contemptible.”

Maybe it’s because the Governor realizes that a peaceable citizen, whom you want to disarm against thugs like the ones who wreaked havoc in Los Angeles 12 years ago, is no more dangerous with a machine gun than he is with a revolver.

Maybe it’s because he understands that criminals who are willing to rape, pillage and murder will not be stopped by yet another worthless ban. Or maybe he understands that weapons in and of themselves cannot be “despicable” – a concept that your cowardly paranoia cannot wrap its tentacles around.

But whatever Bob Ehrlich’s reasons, he seems to grasp one concept a lot better than you ever could: It is impossible to keep guns out of criminals’ hands by passing laws making them illegal. If a criminal is willing to kill, he will certainly not hesitate to violate firearms laws. Magida ends his absurd rant with the following, well-beaten strawman, “The times have been scary enough since 9/11.”

Remember, no firearms were used in the 9-11 attacks. The terrorists hijacked planes full of unsuspecting innocents using box cutters and killed thousands more using planes as missiles. But again, drawing attention to the horrifying attacks preps Magida’s audience for his final, inane utterance:

“The desirable goal, the sensible goal, is to rid our civilization of weapons of mass murder…”

The absurdity of this rant is mind-boggling in its scope. Magida’s stated goal is not to address the criminals or even the roots of crime. His stated goal is to disarm – using the most inflammatory, hyperbolic language possible to push his nefarious agenda. He doesn’t care that criminals will use whatever weapon is available to them to victimize and prey upon the innocent. He doesn’t care that disarming peaceable citizens against said thugs will cost thousands, if not millions, of people their lives, their property and maybe the well-being of their loved ones. Magida’s short-sightedness will only allow him to blindly trot toward his goal of a disarmed society, without regard for the consequences of said mission.


Nicki Fellenzer

Nicki is a US Army veteran, who spent nearly four years in Frankfurt, Germany on active duty at the American Forces Network. She is a former radio DJ and news anchor and a Featured Writer and Newslinks Director for Keepandbeararms.com. She is also a former contributing editor to the National Rifle Association's newest monthly magazine, Women's Outlook and writes occasionally for the Libertarian Party. She resides in Virginia with her family. We are also proud to have Nicki as regular contributor to Armed Females of America.

Copyright © 2004 by Armed Females of America. All rights reserved. Permission to redistribute this article for noncommercial purposes is hereby granted, provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety and appropriate credit given.

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