August 8, 2012 5 Comments
Volokh discusses an Elliot Spitzer column apparently calling for the banning of purchase of semiautomatic weapons.
As a general rule of thumb, I’ve found that people who rant about ‘semiautomatic weapons’ tend not to know what they are. The key here is that there’s something about the word ‘semiautomatic’ which makes the gun sound extra-deadly somehow. I am not a gun nut or expert on guns by any means but I have been in several conversations about guns where I had to actually inform the person bandying about the word ‘semiautomatic’ as a synonym for extra-scary that it just meant ‘when you pull the trigger, a bullet comes out, and another one goes into the chamber, you know, for the next time you pull the trigger’. In other words, one pull of trigger = one bullet, and you don’t have to ‘cock’ the gun. That’s about it, that’s what ‘semiautomatic’ means, as far as I can tell.
What that means – and what the person then realizes, humorously – is that ‘semiautomatic weapon’ more or less just means ‘gun’. At least, the type of ‘gun’ most people think of (i.e. from TV and movies). Yes in Westerns like Deadwood they all had revolvers and shotguns and such, but the ‘normal guns’ your basic cops and Magnum P.I.s are all carrying around are usually ‘semiautomatic firearms’, pretty much.
Guns are deadly full-stop. I have never understood what is supposed to be extra-scary about ‘semiautomatic’ per se. All else equal your basic shotgun can be far deadlier. Can someone please tell Mr. Spitzer, because lacking other info I have to assume that like most people afraid of the word semiautomatic he’s unaware of all this.