The sum of all wet-leg “liberal” fears.
So sure were the horrified darlings of the gun-control salon that an AR-15 had played a part in the abomination at Navy Yard that many felt compelled to insert one into the story, front and center. At various points in the cycle, we were told that Aaron Alexis: took an AR-15 to the Navy Yard as his primary weapon; didn’t take one to the Navy Yard but stole one from a cop once inside; or didn’t use one at all, but tried to buy one in Virginia and was rebuffed by the law.
Eventually, it was made clear that the AR-15 had played no part at all in Monday’s events — but not until Piers Morgan had dedicated the better part of his show on Tuesday to railing against the weapon, Media Matters’s Eric Boehlert had gleefully written, “bottom line: another AR-15 mass shooting” on Twitter, and the New York Daily News’s Mike Lupica had rather embarrassingly dedicated a cover story to the weapon, which he characterized with typical hysteria as the “rifle for the ‘sport’ of hunting humans.” Wishcasting in public that a firearm you dislike has been used to murder people is not a good look.
Still, while the focus on the AR-15 is distressingly overblown, it is not entirely irrational, for at one level both its critics and its champions are motivated by the same thing. The pro-gun side loves it because it is a commercially available, easy-to-use, well-built “tactical” weapon that looks like a “military style” machine gun; conversely, the other side hates it because it is a commercially available, easy-to-use, well-built “tactical” weapon that looks like a “military style” machine gun. To its fans, it is the emblem of a liberty-obsessed people and a reminder that the citizenry is sovereign and may choose for itself how to manage its defense; to its critics, it is the sign of a liberty-obsessed people, and a reminder that the citizenry is sovereign and may choose for itself how to manage its defense.
Bingo, nailed it in one. Cooke delves a good bit deeper, and as usual with him it’s all very much worth reading.