Chris Matthews: ‘Outlaw Semi-Automatic Weapons’

-By Warner Todd Huston

On the December 18 broadcast of his MSNBC show, Hardball, Chris Matthews gave us a perfect example of the outright ignorance about how firearms work that the left media exhibits on a daily basis. Matthews thought he had a brilliant point when he said we should “outlaw semi-automatic weapons.”

In a discussion with a U.S. Senator, Matthews proposed his brilliant “solution” to the ills of the Second Amendment.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: It’s not hopeless, though. You talked about the Second Amendment. But, look, back in 1934 we had Machine Gun Kelly and all the guys out in Chicago. We had the whole Prohibition era encouraging a certain kind of crime; rum-running, etc. Here’s the question. Back then, the Congress had the guts to outlaw automatic weapons, machine guns, basically they did. They’re heavily regulated, heavily regulated, almost to the point of you don’t find them around. Here’s the question: why can’t Congress do the same thing to semi-automatics? I know we’ve got millions of them, whatever. Can’t we start to regulate? We don’t have to regulate a shotgun or a regular pistol with a revolver or anything. But if you go into the semi-automatic level, why don’t we say, that’s like the automatic weapon. Just go for that. Courts would have to approve it. Cause they approved the earlier one, didn’t they? Isn’t there a precedent?

The problem is, of course, that a “semi-automatic” weapon does not really make a gun more powerful or necessarily more dangerous than any other weapon. The thing is, a small caliber, less powerful weapon can be just as fully “semi-automatic” as a larger caliber weapon. It isn’t solely the mechanism that makes the gun more powerful.

A semi-automatic weapon is designed to eject an empty or fired shell casing and automatically load another cartridge into the firing chamber. But a semi-automatic also calls for the user to pull the trigger to fire it every time he wants to fire a shot. In other words, all it does is load the cartridge. It doesn’t fire the thing until the trigger is pulled again. Only a fully automatic weapon continues to fire with one pull of the trigger. A semi-automatic does not spew bullets everywhere with a single pull of a trigger.

A large number of the rifles and pistols now being manufactured today are semi-automatics. Heck, even a double action revolver is a sort of semi-automatic for even though it doesn’t eject the cartridge, with one pull of the trigger the mechanism rotates a new bullet to the firing pin to be immediately fired. How much automatic is too much automatic, Chris?

Of course, the point here is that Matthews is using the term “semi-automatic” but treating it as a if any gun so manufactured is somehow just as dangerous as a fully automatic weapon. They are not.

This is the same thing that the liberal media does when it uses the amorphous and ill-defined phrase “assault weapon.” Most of these ill-informed news folks are basing this definition on what a gun looks like not on what it does. The truth is many semi-automatic rifles can have different stocks and furniture attached. These different stocks can make the same gun appear as if it is a hunting rifle in one configuration or a military-appearing weapon in another. Regardless, the furniture surrounding the weapon does not an “assault weapon” make.

Few of these media folks know anything about firearms. They don’t know what they do, they don’t know how they are produced, and for what purposes. Yet they are “reporting” on them just the same regardless of their utter lack of knowledge.

If we are to have an informed public discussion about firearms, the Old Media establishment needs to stop misleading the public and become informed on the subject.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

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