The Corner

Don Lemon, Automatic Weapons, and the Integrity of Language

Last night, on national television, CNN host Don Lemon attempted to alter physical reality through the sheer force of his will:

One wonders in which other areas Lemon intends to subordinate engineering to linguistic expedience. After all, if “for me” is sufficient, we can start turning water into wine all over the place. “For me,” we might say, “that propeller is a jet engine.” “For me, that bicycle is an SUV.” “For me, that landline is a cell phone.” “For me, this manual car is an auto.” 

Given the manner in which the advocates of gun control usually talk, this indifference to imprecision is peculiar. Typically, the tiniest cosmetic differences are held to be of considerable import. In my home state of Connecticut, it is illegal to buy certain rifles if they feature mechanisms that allow their owners to adjust the length of the stock. Why? Because being comfortable when shooting is apparently dangerous. Also often outlawed are barrel shrouds, which are designed to prevent users from burning themselves, and pistol grips, which are designed to make longer firearms easier to shoot. None of these have any bearing on the lethality of the weapon, of course. They don’t affect its caliber or its potency. They don’t add to its effectiveness. They are purely cosmetic and ergonomic. And yet, for “safety,” they need to be banned. Last night, on CNN, by contrast, an anchor explained that an actual functional distinction — possibly the most important functional distinction — is just “semantics.”

And they wonder why they lose.

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