PSH, Oakland Style

I actually found this “article” through Google News Alerts this morning, but a couple of other bloggers have hit on it as well so I do need to give credit where due.

I found an area for comments that didn’t require me to register for an account.

Here’s what I left:

This opinion piece masquerading as news is so full of factual inaccuracies and flat out falsehoods that I can’t begin to cover them all. There was very little that was actually true in the piece.

The most glaring blatant falsehood was this statement:

It used to be illegal for civilians to purchase or own assault weapons. That was before the nation’s main assault gun control legislation lapsed in 2004 — and was not renewed.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban outlawed the sale or possession of 19 types of assault weapons — defined as semiautomatic firearms with specific characteristics allowing rapid-fire shooting, which includes most handguns.

1) The ban on scary looking, low to medium powered guns never banned possession or sales, only new manufacture. Affected firearms that were manufactured before enactment of the “ban” could still be owned, sold and purchased throughout the duration of the “ban”.

2) The 19 firearms “banned” were banned by name. Exact copies of those firearms were still available under different names throughout the ban as long as they didn’t have too many of the purely cosmetic features mentioned in the legislation.

3) None of the cosmetic features that supposedly constituted an “assault weapon” were features which “allowed rapid fire shooting”. Exactly how does a bayonet lug, folding or collapsible stock, pistol grip etc “allow rapid fire shooting”? The only thing that affects rate of fire is the design of the action itself. Semi-automatic arms that were never included in the ban were capable of exactly the same rate of fire (one shot with each pull of the trigger) as banned weapons. The law had absolutely nothing to do with rate of fire.

4) The ban absolutely, positively, did NOT “include most handguns”. The federal law specifically named a few handguns that were included, but had no effect on the availability, manufacture, sale or possession of the VAST majority of handguns.

Besides the factual inaccuracy of the piece, there were also an abundance of logical fallacies as well. The author was obviously implying a link between the expiration of the ban on scary looking low to medium powered weapons and the number of illegal guns in Oakland. To do so, the author stated two unconnected facts and then simply asserted that they are connected.

Has the number of firearms available in Oakland increased since the expiration of the federal law in 2004? If so, was there already a trend occurring, or did the increase directly correlate with the law’s expiration?

If the proliferation of firearms in Oakland is increasing, what types of firearms? Is the number of firearms that were not affected by the federal law increasing at the same rate as those that were? Or is the increase only attributable to the affected firearms?

There are many more questions that should be asked before jumping to the conclusion that the author did, but those few illustrate exactly how tenuous the case made by the author is.

This was not a news story as it was not an exercise in reporting the facts for the purpose of informing the public. This was a propaganda piece with the sole intention of misrepresenting the facts to forward a political agenda.

I also took the liberty of e-mailing my response (including a link to this post) to one of the authors. I’ll let you know if I get a reply.

I also found it interesting that all three of the bloggers who chose to comment on this piece picked out different things to key on. Yes, that piece was a veritable cornucopia of inaccuracies upon which to impale it. There’s plenty more if anyone else wants to pile on.

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