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April 04, 2013 08:29 AM UTC

A Few (More) Words on Gun Gaffes and Double Standards

  • by: Colorado Pols

Conservatives across the nation are gleefully pouncing on another Colorado Democrat who said something stupid during the debate over guns. In clearer terms than previous incidents, this latest gaffe from Rep. Diana DeGette, as we'll explain, could be the worst one yet from any Democrat. Huffington Post reports as charitably as can be:

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) is feeling the heat from gun advocates after offering a confusing argument for a federal ban on high-capacity magazines that she has twice sponsored.

Speaking at a Denver Post forum on gun control Tuesday, DeGette pushed for legislation that would prohibit the future sale of ammunition-loading devices that hold more than 10 bullets. Noting that Colorado had recently passed a ban on magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds, DeGette suggested existing devices that are grandfathered into the laws would lose functionality after being used.

"I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available,” she said, according to the Denver Post.

Alright, so, we can start by agreeing that this is one of the dumbest things we have heard in the debate over gun safety legislation from either party at any level. As anyone who has ever handled (or even seen a photo of) a magazine-fed firearm in their lives knows, they are very much reusable, not at all like "ammunition" which is expended, and though it's true that the point of the magazine limit is to reduce the availability of these magazines over time, it's not because "the bullets will have been shot." If you have even the most casual understanding of the issue, and you did not cringe when Rep. DeGette uttered these nonsensical words, you weren't paying attention.

And we're sorry to tell you, folks: it gets even worse.

Seeking clarification for DeGette's remarks from her office, Denver Post reporter Allison Sherry got this quote from spokesperson Juliet Johnson:

"The congresswoman has been working on a high-capacity assault magazine ban for years and has been deeply involved in the issue; she simply misspoke in referring to 'magazines' when she should have referred to 'clips,' which cannot be reused because they don't have a feeding mechanism," Johnson said.

Actually, clips in most guns can be reused as well…

That's right: in defense of Rep. DeGette's absurdly inaccurate statement about magazines, her staff doubled down on the absurdity. There's really no saving her from the criticism she's receiving at this point, and as the prime sponsor of federal legislation limiting magazine capacity, mangling this elementary point about the legislation in such detail can fairly be considered a major disaster for her credibility. Sugar-coating this fact helps no one.

Today, in addition to the Denver Post's blistering news story about DeGette's gaffe, an editorial rips her for hurting proponents of an issue that they at least nominally support. It reminds us distinctly of the editorial/news story combination punch state Sen. Evie Hudak received after her remarks about guns being statistically unhelpful to crime victims. In both cases, the Denver Post fact-checked these Democratic women with a vigor and thoroughness that, we'll be the first to say it, is admirable.

What's puzzling, though, is why only Democrats seem to be getting this treatment.

We and others have documented in this space repeated instances of Republicans saying things about proposed gun safety bills that are every bit as ludicrous as what DeGette said and more. There was the warning from numerous Republican Colorado legislators that requiring background checks would "criminalize the private transfer of firearms." That limiting magazine capacity would "ban all magazines." Sen. Kent Lambert claiming that Colorado's new laws have "effectively banned gun ownership," and that guns will be "confiscated or taken away here over the next couple of years." We could go on and on with examples of Republicans' wholesale lying about these bills. Nonsense on the same order of DeGette's at least, but we have yet to see it called out with the same rigor. Meanwhile, the newsroom and editorial board compete to scrutinize Democrats' every word?

Again we will say, as we did about Sen. Hudak's gaffe, that we support rigorous fact-checking. That's journalism at its best. The problem is, when you're only fact-checking one side, and letting the other side get away with brazenly lying with impunity, your "fact-checking" will unfairly build a case only against the one side.

And that's not "journalism" at all, folks.


20 thoughts on “A Few (More) Words on Gun Gaffes and Double Standards

    1. If that's true, and what journalists really think, haven't you just validated Colorado Pols's argument? We don't need reporters making those decisions for the public. The public does not necessarily "expect" them to lie, and they need to know that they are lying no matter how jaded Lynn Bartels is.

  1. I saw the Rep. DeGette sat next to Sen. Lundberg at the forum, I bet they had a nice little conversation.  BTW did y'all know that Sen. Lundberg's house is off the grid?  Yup, it sure is.

  2. It all goes back to something I posted months ago about defining terms. Definitions of specific terms should have gone out to all staff so they could properly educate their member and themselves

    1. Ageed Gray. Nothing is worse than a politician advocating/opposing legislation that they are ill informed about. Many bills have a list of terms at the beginning which define what the terms mean when  used in the bill. DeGette or any other legislator knows this and should make sure they know the meaning of specific terms when discussing legislation.

      This just plays right into the hands of gun control opponents who contend this legislation is being rammed down their throats by knee jerk liberals who don't have a clue what they're talking about.

  3. This is unbelievable. It would be bad if a legislator who voted for it said this. But for a sponsor to say it. I'm guessing she has no idea of the actual impact of the legislation she carried. That's really sad.

    And yes the Post tends to give stupid statements by Republicans a pass. Life isn't fair.

  4. I'm guessing she has no idea of the actual impact of the legislation she carried.

    To say nothing of her ignorance about the use of firearms in general, I suppose. Perhaps she has been at this for so long, details of actual firearms and their function has been forgotten in the DeGette office.

    Still, that is no excuse for this gaffe. Complacency and laziness can invade any organization. It may have done so here.

  5. A few words on the absurd fantasy land created by Republicans (calling them 'out of touch' is the understatement of the century). Let's imagine for a moment that you're Randy Baumgardner and you live in rural Colorado. In the absurd fantasy land that he and his pals at RMGO have created this scenario isn't just conceivable, its probable. 

    "I was sittin' in a field one night hunting elk and gophers with my AR-15 when off in the distance I saw a horde of rabid, zombie-like criminals in orange jump suits carrying an assortment of deadly weapons that included machetes, clubs, hammers, knives, pick axes, broken bottles and guns that had all clearly been purchased on the Mexican black market care of the ATF, but definitely not in a "private sale." I concluded that they must have escaped from a Mexican prison because they all had dark skin and I spotted name tags with Spanish surnames on them through my. I speculated that they must have jumped the border a few weeks earlier and made a b-line for my ranch when they heard that I raised the best cattle this side of the Missisippi River. They split off and started heading for the house.

    That's when I saw Barack Obama and Governor John Hickenlooper with at least 10 gun grabbing federales behind them. They had clearly gotten wind of my AR-15 with a 30 round magazine because my great, great grand uncle had made the mistake of going through a background check to purchase the gun, but hadn't done one when he gave it to me.

    'Damn those federally licensed gun dealers!' I said. 'They must have submitted my name to an unfunded, illegal registration system. I'll never know how Great, Great Grand Uncle Joe got an AR-15 in 1950, but it doesn't matter now. Its up to me to preempt those gun grabbers and defend the Constitution on behalf of the duly elected Sheriff who refuses to follow the law we elected him to enforce.'

    That's when I took aim at those treasonous idiots. I knew my wife could defend herself against the criminal horde with her trusty Glock 19 since we'd taken the precaution of stocking up on high capacity magazines with illegally home fashioned extenders they weren't designed to take.

  6. DeGette needs to gain some ground and credibility. She needs to hire someone to educate herself and her office about guns. She needs to be publicly contrite about it and forthcoming about hiring this individual

  7. How can anyone even marginally involved in this debate get so far in life without knowing at least the basics of firearms operation? Hell, I'm a pacifist who has never fired anything more substantial than a BB gun in my life (and that a long time ago) and the worst I've done is use the popularly misunderstood "clip" as shorthand for "magazine" – I at least knew the mechanism I was talking about.

    I couldn't imagine being an elected official and not boning up on issues on which I was expected to represent my constituents.

    1. I have a class M-1 Garand, and it operates from an eight-shot clip.  Generally, they weren't re-used, though they could be.  It's just a piece of metal that holds the bullets by the end as you shove it into the magazine, which is not removable.   After firing the eight-rounds, the clip ejects.   This led to quite a legend, in which the sound of the clip landing on rocky ground supposedly told the enemy you were out of ammo and they could rush you.   

          Frankly, I';ve always doubted this.   One, it implies a pretty damn quiet battlefield, if you can hear an ounce or so of metal from a distance hitting the rocky ground.   Two, it implies the soldier is alone.   I suspect any Japanese/German soldiers who actually tried that stunt would have been cut in half by a burst from a Browning Automatic Rifle — which fired the same 30.-caliber ammo but from a 20-shot removable magazine on full auto.  The garand itself is semi-automatic.   My late father-in-law was a combat engineer in Normandy in World War II.   Those guys were the bravest of the brave, working under fire to build bridges, clear mines or bobby traps, etc., without even the solace of shooting back most of the time.   But he paid a terrible price.   My brother in law tells of finding him one day in the garage in his pick-up, just drinking beer and sobbing "All that blood.   All that blood."

        As Sherman wisely said: "War is cruelty.   You cannot refine it."

        While my Garand has a fairly low serial number and was thus probably "in the show," I've actually never fired it.   Like my other military guns, it's a link to history.  When I do shoot, it's mostly on the farm with a .22, which is cheap and fun.   But I don't know, PR — a hard-core bb gun user like you — I won't mess with youwink 

  8. Pro gun advocates would not need to gin up so much false controversy over a gaffe if they had a real arguement for why they need to own a gun specifically designed for mass shooting. That is what an assault rifle is for people. It is designed to kill people as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is not designed for killing an entire flock of geese hunting one elk or an entire herd of elk.

  9. + a zillion. And it's interesting watching them argue that homeowners and hunters need those high capacity magazines while, at the same time, arguing they don't really affect mass shooting incidents because it's so easy for the shooter to switch out smaller ones anyway.  So which is it? They give you an advantage you desperately need or it's no advantage wirth mentioning? 

    Also their argument that checks won't stop any criminals because the definition of criminal is someone who breaks the law would render every law useless as long as there are criminals to break them. And why not at least make it less ridiculously easy for criminals, the mentally ill, people under restraining orders or half baked kids with video game fanatases to get guns then it is now that they have so many avenues that don't require background checks or street savvy or access to a criminal underground?

    They have no answer to common sense so they're trying as hard as they can to get us to ignore their total lack of it. So far, on background checks 80+ to 90% aren't buying their furious tap dancing.

    And why are they doing it?  To defend our freedom? Then why don't they have anything to say about the ban on fully automatic weapons or our freedom to arm ourselves on  planes?  Nope.  The NRA and friends are the lobbyng for the fire arms industry in an era in which the number of gun owning homes is going down.  Got to sell more high priced stuff to their shrinking but increasingly nutty market.

    1. @ BC Re your second graph. The funny thing is that by their "logic" we should not have laws prohibiting murder because the criminals are going to do it anyway

      1. Yes the laws are pointless because criminals don't obey laws argument is pretty much too silly for anyone with more sense than a piece of toast to take seriously.

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