The tragic shootings in Tucson have reinforced this political truism: Liberals don't have a clue when it comes to guns. In fact, their ignorance of firearms is downright astounding.
Since the rampage, some lefty bloggers and columnists have perpetuated the falsehood, perhaps inadvertently, that the model handgun Jared Loughner allegedly used, a 9mm Glock 19, was outlawed under the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (which expired in 2004). That's flatly incorrect.
The AWB prohibited the manufacture of new high-capacity magazines, which it arbitrarily defined as magazines that hold 10 rounds or more. Even then, the ban didn't apply to previously manufactured extended magazines. The price-point was higher for these due to a limited supply, but they were still available in stores as a used commodity.
Therefore, the notion that Loughner couldn't have gotten his hands on the 33-round magazine if the AWB had been renewed -- or even that it would have been significantly more difficult -- is ridiculous.
Even more ridiculous is misleading readers into believing the Glock 19 itself was a banned commodity. Some left-wing writers are cloaking their prose so that it sounds like the Glock 19 was outlawed until 2004. Salon.com is an example.
A headline from Jan. 9 for one of its blog posts reads: "Weapon in Rampage Was Banned Under Clinton-Era Law." Again, the Glock 19 was never banned, and the ban on the extended magazine only applied to new production, not existing magazines. Even more to the point, a magazine is not a weapon; it's a component of a weapon.
Readers have to proceed to the sub-head to get a somewhat fuller picture: "The now-expired assault weapons ban made it illegal to make the type of magazine used in the Giffords shooting."
Partly true, but the blog post delays the full truth until the fourth graf:
Between 1994 and 2004 when the assault weapons ban was in effect, gun manufacturers such as Glock could not market handguns with high-capacity magazines. If the ban were still in effect, it's less likely that Loughner could have obtained a gun with a high-capacity magazine. Stores could legally only sell used high-capacity magazines at that time, and new magazines could not be manufactured.
Kevin D. Williamson, writing at National Review Online, has an apt response to the argument that Loughner would've had a tougher time buying extended magazines if the AWB had been renewed:
The only difference the AWB is likely to have made is that the shooter would have had a used magazine instead of a new one (assuming he did in fact have a new one), and he probably would have paid five bucks more for it.
Why didn't Salon use a more accurate headline? Could it be that liberals want to mislead readers into believing the Glock 19 is "an assault weapon"? Even after explaining the facts, albeit poorly, the Salon blogger quotes a source from the Brady Center who characterizes the Glock 19 as a people-killing machine:
He also notes that Glock pistols are particularly easy to fire, letting off rounds as quickly as the operator can pull the trigger. 'They are very good at killing people quickly,' he says.
"Letting off rounds as quickly as the operator can pull the trigger" is the definition of a semi-automatic weapon. It doesn't make the handgun unusual, and certainly not an assault weapon -- unless one defines an assault weapon as anything above a single-shot firearm.
So, what's a conservative pundit to make of all this? Simply that liberals are capitalizing off a tragedy by pushing to further restrict the freedoms of law-abiding Americans. And they're doing it in a disingenuous way.
But that's nothing new.