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Gayle Trotter "Good Moms Holding Babies Need Guns in the Home" Advocate Unintentionally Demonstrates Why the AR-15 is an "Assault Rifle"

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The congressional hearings this week about gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Massacre were a spectacle. There were grieving parents, "experts" offering up their own insight on guns and public safety, and a litany of Republican spokespeople (bought and paid for by the NRA) trying to suggest  that video games are a bigger problem than guns in American society, and that gun violence is not a public health issue (but  maybe it is a "black people problem"...who knows?)

As with other critical issues of public concern, it is apparent that sensible gun control is likely not to be put in place because there is a disagreement about basic facts. Moreover, the symbolism of the gun, the power of lobbying groups, the Right-wing media's myth making machine, and how some folks are actually possessed by magical thinking which suggests that they are contemporary "minutemen" who are going to fight "tyranny" and State power with their guns is both absurd and laughable.

Nevertheless, the mindset is still very compelling for a particular political personality type. Who wouldn't want to pretend to be G.I. Joe or Captain America?

In their efforts to derail sensible public policy about gun violence, one of the canards offered by the Gun Right is a fixation on what constitutes an "assault rifle." The amount of energy expended on this issue has become the equivalent of the TV show King of the Nerds where fine points about esoteric knowledge (of what is ultimately questionable value) are fought over until exhaustion.

Public policy-making is intentionally prevented and mucked up because these fixations about how to label and name a thing--in this case a rifle capable of delivering a high volume of fire in a short amount of time--are chaff used to distract the public from basic questions about health and safety.

In her testimony this week about how the AR-15 is the perfect weapon for women (it is also a "modern day musket" and "self-defense" weapon), Gayle Trotter unintentionally revealed her hand by letting slip a few basic facts about her beloved rifle--facts which undercut the Gun Right's claims about the seemingly "benign" nature of the favorite weapon used by Adam Lanza and other such mass shooters.

Gayle Trotter extolled the virtues of her AR-15:

"Young women are speaking out as to why AR-15 weapons are their weapon of choice," Trotter explained. "The guns are accurate. They have good handling. They're light. They're easy for women to hold."

She added: "And most importantly, their appearance. An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon, and the peace of mind that a woman has as she's facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she's fighting hardened, violent criminals."

The AR-15 is fundamentally the same gun as the M-16 family of weapons. Save for some cosmetic differences, the ability to affix a bayonet for example, and the lack of a 3 fire burst selector (or full auto feature in the M4 and pre-M16A2 versions), the civilian versions of the M-16 (which are marketed under any number of names) also fire the same type of ammunition, and are just as lethal as their military counterparts.

And for all of the obsession with the differences between a "fully automatic" rifle vs. a "semi-automatic rifle," until the widespread use of the M-4 during the Iraq debacle, most infantry was instructed to use the semi-automatic setting as the preferred way of firing the weapon.