NRA president David Keene appeared on Face the Nation this morning, and spent some of the time rebutting many of the misleading impressions Americans hold about gun control and firearms, including the assumption that “military style” “assault weapons” fire at an exceptionally high rate.
Schieffer began the discussion by asking Keene, “will you oppose, as the National Rifle Association, any attempt to tighten the gun laws, to do what even the International Association of Police Chiefs say is a good idea, and that is to ban these military-style assault weapons? . . . Will you continue to oppose that?”
Keene explained, “we will continue to oppose a ban on semi-automatic weapons . . . These aren’t military weapons. If we equipped our army with the AR-15 [the weapon used in the Newtown tragedy], we’d be beaten by every Third World dictatorship. Military weapons are fully automatic weapons and that’s illegal, you don’t get those. That’s not what we’re talking about. The impression often is, Bob, that that’s what we’re talking about, but it isn’t.”
Right on cue, the host tried to pretend, in fact, that is what they were talking about, asking, “how many rounds can these weapons discharge, say, in five seconds?” “They fire when you pull the trigger,” Keene explained, also known as the definition of semi-automatic.
Schieffer then retorted, “And they keep firing.” “No, they don’t keep firing,” Keene explained, “that’s a fully automatic weapon.”
Stymied, Schieffer pivoted, “but these guns are dangerous. Even Justice Scalia . . .” The host argued that even conservative justices on the Supreme Court have not argued that regulating some types of weapons would constitute a violation of the individual right to bear arms — a straw man Keene was not advancing.
Keene, earlier in the program, had actually explained that the NRA does support at least one specific tightening of America’s gun laws — guess Schieffer wasn’t listening — when he explained that they have pushed for more states to include mental-health status as a disqualifier in the registries they use for background checks.