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Chief dismisses ‘silly debate’ over media machine gun conflation

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Richmond, Calif. Police Department Chief Chris Magnus responded today to a Gun Rights Examiner inquiry on whether an Uzi recovered from a teenage suspect was a semi-automatic firearm, or, as characterized by all major media reporting on the incident, a “submachinegun.”

“Actually, I did post several additional tweets (on Dec. 13th) that responded to the points you raised,” Magnus stated in a comment posted on The War on Guns blog. “Apparently you missed them.”

That’s because he did not directly respond to the inquiry via Twitter’s “reply” function, and some of us have better things to do than monitor his account for days after asking him a question on the hopes that he might volunteer something relevant to his followers but not copy us on his answer.

But what the heck. Let’s hear what he has to say.

“These were the points I made,” he advised:

Chris Magnus@RPDChiefMagnus13 Dec
Some argue, "Uzis not really a dangerous gun; it's semi-auto--not fully auto." When you're threatened with it, you might disagree.#GetReal

Chris Magnus@RPDChiefMagnus13 Dec
Silly debate: Confis Uzis was semi-auto w/32 round mag. Could ANYONE it was pointed at tell diff btwn full&semi auto? All rds fire in 7sec.

“I never stated that the gun was fully automatic,” Chief Magnus concluded. “My view is that no matter what type of weapon it was, it would certainly create fear for the person it was pointed at.”

No one has argued that a semi-auto Uzi is “not really a dangerous gun,” and for the chief to advance that assertion is unfounded and absurd. I challenge him to produce documentation that anyone really told him that, or else admit he is misrepresenting things. What he was asked -- and all he was asked -- in the original tweet from this correspondent was “For the record: Is it a semi-auto or a select fire.”

With major players like NBC, CBS, The Los Angeles Times and others telling untold millions it was a “submachine gun,” it’s a valid question.

Likewise, this column did not report that the chief claimed the seized weapon was “fully automatic” -- he was merely asked to clarify matters so that the accuracy of all the media reports telling the public that could be assessed. And no one has argued that someone having such a weapon -- or any weapon -- pointed at them should not be fearful, or that anyone being threatened with any gun would include functionality differences in their immediate concerns. That’s not the issue, and to pretend that it is deflects from what is.

The sole argument, which Chief Magnus dismisses as a “silly debate,” has to do with newspapers and TV stations perpetuating a strategy engineered by gun prohibitionists with the intent of scaring the public into accepting bans on semi-automatic firearms by making them think they are the same thing as machine guns.

“The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons -- anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun -- can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons,” Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann wrote back in 1988, and journalists who don’t know the difference, or know but have an interest in perpetuating public ignorance, have been adding to it ever since.

The anti-gunners don’t get to start and perpetuate such confusion and then have their apologists dismiss arguments pointing out their deception as “silly.” They’d like to, but when they try, the dishonest tactic should be exposed.

Even though Chief Magnus offered clumsy and misleading straw man arguments that show he doesn’t really mind that the media is playing into VPC’s agenda (perhaps because he fervently shares it), he did finally admit what this column suspected from the start. The question now is, will the “Authorized Journalist” / “real reporter” / “legitimate media” outlets that misinformed their viewers and readerships issue a correction?

Any bets on the answer to that simple and reasonable question? Or would it be “silly” to expect that?

How did the chief put it?

“#GetReal.”

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When it comes to gun laws, the antis love them so much they’d like to make a patchwork quilt out of them. The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the issue hits the stands. Click here to read "Preemptive Strike.”

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