ATF ‘Expert’ Pushes False Information About Guns On Face The Nation

Source: YouTube - Gun Owners of America

Guns are a polarizing topic in the United States. The U.S. is the only country in the world that guarantees the right to bear arms in the national constitution, and due to that fact, Americans feel very strongly about the subject of firearms. There are many who think that the Second Amendment should be overturned, the same as there are many who believe that the Second Amendment means that the right to carry a gun should not be restricted in any way, shape, or form.

The Number of Guns is a Problem

The issue surrounding guns is compounded by the sheer number of them. Guns in America outnumber the number of citizens in the country, a fact that has many liberals questioning whether there need to be further restrictions on guns.

Source: Wikimedia/Joshuashearn

The rhetoric surrounding gun control largely focuses on the ease through which guns can hurt people, when in the hands of people who mean to do harm. America has more instances of gun-related crimes than any other country on the planet, and this statistic has been used as fuel for those believe that there should be harsher gun restrictions for everyday Americans. 

Pushback from Gun’s Rights Activists

Gun rights activists have pushed back against this rhetoric, though, citing the Second Amendment. There are many Second Amendment absolutists in America, who believe that the right to bear arms should not be infringed in any manner, according to the text of the Constitution. 

Source: Wikimedia/Fibonacci Blue

Predictably, many of these individuals are in conservative states that are led largely by Republicans. These Republican-led legislatures are the ones pushing the movement towards loosened gun restrictions across the country. 

More People at the Center of the Issue

And while it cannot be denied that there are a significant number of gun extremists around the country, the same as there are a significant number of people who believe that guns should be taken away altogether, these people don’t make up the whole of Americans. 

Source: Wikimedia/Noah Wulf

There are far more people who live a little closer to the center of the issue. There are a good number of conservatives who are all for gun rights, who believe that the issue lies in education, rather than the guns themselves, and don’t think that the government should be attempting to regulate something that they don’t fully understand. 

Controversy on Face the Nation

This belief has been further stoked by a recent controversy. A recent appearance of the Director of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) department of the federal government on Face the Nation has sparked questions about the expertise within government agencies tasked with firearms regulation.

Source: Youtube/Gun Owners of America

In the segment, Steve Dettelbach showcased a table full of firearms, allegedly to educate the public on different types of firearms and the regulations surrounding them. However, further examination by Gun Owners of America revealed some misleading information regarding the guns, as well as an uncertain understanding of firearm terminology.

Presenting a Machine Gun

Dettelbach’s presentation included, among other things, placing a M249 SAW front and center while he discussed the different types of guns. This gun is a type of light machine gun, which is capable of shooting up to 850 rounds per minute. 

Source: Youtube/Gun Owners of America

Analysis by Gun Owners of America pointed out that while the SAW is, indeed, a formidable weapon, it’s not one that is typically owned by standard gun owners. The purpose of having the gun in the presentation was, more likely than not, to incite fear in the viewers of Face the nation, rather than foster any kind of genuine discussion. 

Comparing Bump Stocks and Automatics

Additionally, Dettelbach’s explanation regarding the difference between regulated and non-regulated firearms lacked both clarity and accuracy. He compared, for instance, a machine gun to a rifle equipped with a bump stock, while failing to acknowledge the difference between automatic and semi-automatic rifles.

Source: Youtube/Gun Owners of America

A bump stock is a tool used to modify semi-automatic weapons. It uses the weapon’s recoil to fire ammunition cartridges in much faster succession, making the action of the weapon much closer to that of an automatic. This tool was used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, which is what allowed the shooter to fire off as many rounds as he did in such a short period. 

Drastically Different Regulations

The regulations surrounding semi-automatic firearms and automatic weapons are significantly different, which lawful gun owners are well aware of. Through the segment, though, Dettelback and his colleagues demonstrated a misunderstanding of firearm terminology, as well as regulations. 

Source: Youtube/Gun Owners of America

The characterization of a rifle equipped with a bump stock as being functionally identical to a machine gun reflects a lack of understanding around how these weapons operate, as well as how they’re regulated under the law. 

Confusion Regarding Classification

In a similar vein, their discussion regarding short-barreled rifles highlighted their confusion regarding the classification of firearms, as well as the regulatory framework governing their sales and ownership. 

Source: Youtube/Gun Owners of America

Dettelbach attempted to equate firearms sold in different configurations as functionally equal to each other. Unfortunately for him, and Americans who trust him to understand the weapons that his department is working to regulate, this mistake overlooks significant distinctions in both functionality and legal status.

Inconsistency in Regulatory Interpretation

Dettelbach also made several concerning remarks on the enforcement of firearm regulations, which further raise concerns about ATF’s approach to gun regulation. He made a reference to pistol braces, stating that they were a workaround to the National Firearms Act. 

Source: Wikimedia/Noah Wulf

This statement contradicts previous ATF rulings regarding the matter, however. This mixup underscores the inconsistency in regulatory interpretation, both on a federal and state level. This is especially important, because ATF interpretation is what allows for various states to either loosen or tighten gun regulations on a state-by-state basis.

Disingenuous Claims Regarding Firearm Dealers

Perhaps most importantly, the ATF’s portrayal of firearm dealers as allies in preventing illegal firearm trafficking appears disingenuous, particularly in light of recent enforcement actions targeting law-abiding dealers for paperwork errors.

Source: Wikimedia/Cimmerian praetor

This approach undermines trust and cooperation between dealers and regulatory agencies, hindering effective enforcement efforts. This highlights a concern that many gun owners and gun enthusiasts have regarding gun regulation – that law-abiding citizens and gun owners will end up unfairly penalized in the name of keeping guns out of the hands of bad people who would commit crimes with them. 

A Need for Accurate Discussions

Dettelbach’s appearance on Face the Nation only highlights the need for accurate and informed discussions around firearm regulation. The highly charged political discussion needs facts and calm in order to be approached with any sort of sense, and the Face the Nation interview was full of neither.

Source: Wikimedia/adrigu

Gun Owners of America pointed out, particularly, the importance in questioning misinformation pushed by federal agencies who are tasked with creating regulation around firearms. GOA states that it’s the job of the American public and citizens to advocate for transparency and accountability in firearms policy discussions.

A Swing and a Miss

The Face the Nation interview, while intended to be informative and help the public understand the stance of ATF, was unfortunately a swing and a miss. The messaging appeared disingenuous and sketchy, at best, and misinformed and outright false at worst.

Source: Wikimedia/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gretchen Marie Roth

It only highlights the need for further transparency regarding gun policy, as well as further education about guns themselves. While gun owners might be familiar enough with various guns to point out when they’re being lied to about them, many people are not, and that is a problem for honest discussions surrounding firearm regulation. 

Supporting False Narratives

Discussions around guns in America are often clouded with fear and misinformation, and the Face the Nation interview was a good example of that. Dettelbach, no matter how well intentioned, likely supported a false narrative around guns with his presentation. 

Source: Wikimedia/spaxspore (Kirk Smith)

If there’s any hope for frank and honest discussion surrounding guns, the fear-based propaganda needs to cease. Only through education and emotionally neutral conversation can guns be discussed the way they need to be, and accurate policies formed for law-abiding gun owning citizens. 

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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