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Anti-Actions, Emotional Words, and Silly Classifications
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a Staten Island, New York school panel has passed a resolution recommending armed, retired New York City police officers be hired to patrol local schools as a part of an increased security proposal. The Times is also reporting, however, that the city's Board of Education has already said "no way" to the plan.

It points out two important facts: one, school administrators are recognizing that the National Rifle Associations much-maligned proposal to place trained, armed guards has merit and, two, that it doesn't matter what school leaders think, political positions will keep the enhanced security out of many schools. One action recognizes the fact that teachers are realizing that "gun-free zones" aren't safe. The second points out the fact that gun control, not student safety, is what's driving the bus on this issue.

The Staten Island plan approved Monday would have used "buzzer" systems to admit visitors in conjunction with the placing of 300-500 retired NYPD officers in the schools, giving them peace officer status and taking advantage of their existing concealed-carry permits. The concealed-carry permit means the schools wouldn't have to buy guns, and students wouldn't have to see them openly carried.

The point of the plan according to Michael Reilly, co-chair of the Safety and Transportation Comunity for Community Education Council 31 of Staten Island was deterrence -the idea of preventing anyone from picking a school to make a statement.

You can read the article yourself at,0,1565450.story. It is the first mainstream media recognition of the fact that safety isn't the reason anti-gun officials are so opposed to the idea of armed guards in schools. They're opposing the idea because their admission that gun-free zones don't work would undermine attempts to push through additional gun regulations and restrictions.

We're also hearing that the industry is reaching out to organizations that are known for their "green" positions on the environment. Why? Because of inaction on the part of the BATFE when it comes to "alternative ammunition". Seems that the definition of Armor Piercing ammunition (AP) is applicable to newer "green" ammo containing brass.

It's a complicated issue, in fact, the ATF says it's among the most complicated issues they've ever tried to resolve. So they're going slowly-even for a governmental agency. We know there are at least 19 petitions seeking to have alternative ammunition (brass bullets) exempted from the AP categorization.

What's so complicated? Concerns over law enforcement safety. There are some handguns in the marketplace chambered in rifle calibers. Those guns could fire alternative ammo capable of piercing soft body armor. It's a theoretical problem - as far as anyone knows there's no evidence that criminals are using alternative ammo in handguns to shoot at cops.

If environmentally-focused groups can weigh in on the issue, it may be the additional encouragement needed to get the ATF to interpret the law to allow alternative ammuniton to be used for the hunting purposes for which they were designed.

It's a complicated issue, but we're hearing the idea of "cop killer" bullets is once again being dragged out by the Biden study group.

And the "cop killer" bullet brings out a point I had failed to consider until I watched a video talking about the power of words and "labels". It's something worth considering if you wonder why people have such visceral reactions to the term "assault weapons".

It's no accident that anti-gun groups pound the "assault rifle" point at every opportunity. That description and the word "assault" are both so emotionally charged that it's virtually impossible to expect someone to discuss them logically.

If you have a tough time grabbing what I'm trying to say, think about the "No Child Left Behind Law" - could you support leaving children behind? No. It's why the naming of legislation or concepts is so critical in its success or failure. Those emotionally-charged words have real power, beginning with the power to shut off consideration of rational arguments against the idea of regulating "assault weapons".

Last night, I had the occasion to test this idea on a reader who claimed to be a hunter, but couldn't see the purpose of "assault rifles" -other than holding off a horde of rampaging gophers.

Instead of arguing "assault rifles" I asked that he consider the modern sporting rifle as an alternative to "assault rifles". These modern sporters, I told him, are the sporterized rifles of today that are comparable to the Springfield '03 or European Mauser actions our grandfathers favored after World War II. Would he consider those a good alternative to assault rifles?

And, I reminded him that when I competed in Cowboy action shooting, I used single-action revolvers, a pump shotgun and lever action rifle. They sound benign enough, but all three were derived from military rifles contemporary to that era. To the Native American part of me, these were all "assault" weapons.

At that point, we were capable of engaging in a civil discussion of why I was so vehemently opposed to any additional regulations of "assault rifles". To make a final point, I used the Benelli R-1 rifle I use for hunting. In its wooden "furniture" it's perfectly fine to have interchangeable magazines and a semi-auto action to hun.

If I were to remove the action, however, and put it in a black polymer stock that happened to use a handgrip rather than a straight stock, I'd have made my hunting rifle illegal simply because of its appearance.

At that point, I explained that it would also more closely fit the definition of the "modern sporting rifle". It would still be a semi-automatic hunting rifle, simply housed in a stock far more familiar to today's veterans and young shooters.

We need defuse the emotion-laden words used against us, especially when talking with people not deeply involved in shooting.

Otherwise, we'll have the potential to lose an argument that wouldn't have happened in the first place - if we'd discharged some of the negative energy attached to terminology.

If I hit you with a baseball bat, I'd have turned a sporting good into an "assault weapon", but only in that specific instance. In the hands of a Little Leaguer, it would still be a baseball bat.

That's the kind of "illogic" we're facing...and we need to blunt it whenever we can.

--Jim Shepherd

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