We are now more than 20 years into the "assault weapon" debate, so you would think enough time has passed, and enough information is available on the internet and elsewhere, that even the laziest and least competent newspaper reporter could get at least a handful of the most basic facts straight on the issue.
You would think that, unless you read the Miami Herald.
Recently, the Miami Herald has come out with both barrels blazing on the "assault weapon" issue, making false claims about the functionality of guns defined as such under the now-expired Clinton Gun Ban and advocating the ban's restoration.
In September, the paper ran an editorial claiming that a Glock 19 is an "assault weapon," presumably because it is designed to use a detachable ammunition magazine. It also ran an article that claimed that a person can actually fire 600 rounds in 60 seconds with a semi-automatic AK-47.
This week, the paper ran an article about the "assault weapons ban that President Bush let sunset in 2004," and claimed that, because they were "Frustrated the assault weapon ban was permitted to sunset, the states of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York all have passed laws making them illegal."
Let's take these in turn.
First, a Glock 19 has never been defined as an "assault weapon," even under the most preposterous gun bans ever imposed (though that could change if the Herald has its way!). And if anyone on the newspaper's staff can wiggle their trigger finger 30 times and change magazines every three seconds, for a solid minute--well, we would like to see it!
But anyone who has even a passing familiarity with basic American civics knows that the President cannot sign a bill unless it has been passed by Congress. As you'll recall, the Clinton Gun Ban sunsetted without even a vote by Congress, which refused to cave into its radical anti-gun members' demands that the ban be extended. Thus, it was through Congress's action--or in this case inaction--that the ban rightfully expired.
And it is a fact that every one of the state bans the paper mentioned was imposed between 1989 and 2001, no less than three years before the expiration of the Clinton Gun Ban. How could these laws have been imposed out of frustration with something that had yet to occur?
Anyone who has followed the gun control issue over the years has seen a lot of shoddy and shamelessly biased opinion-mongering passed off as "news" and "responsible journalism" by big city newspapers like the Herald. Lately, though, it seems like the Herald has been determined to claim top dishonors in this regard.These days, when it comes to treatment of gun issues, the best that can be said for the Miami Herald is that thankfully newspaper still has a valuable secondary use -- lining pet cages.