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Fox Host Says “Assault Weapon” Is a “Made-Up” Term, And He’s Right

Tucker Carlson, right-wing pundit and bow-tie wearer, has had a checkered career as a media pundit. Perhaps most famously, he was part of the two-hack team with Paul Begala on CNN’s Crossfire when Jon Stewart came on and told them their show hurts America.

Thankfully, Carlson has been relegated to Fox & Friends on the weekend, where whenever he says something outrageous nobody notices but Mediaite.com. In its latest edition of Tucker-watch, they report that during a segment interviewing the gun store owner who was forced to turn over records to police in New York City, Carlson took issue with the term “assault rifle” saying it was “made-up.”

As per usual, Carlson handled this topic with all of the eloquence and nuance of a gas main explosion. As Mediaite.com points out, “all terms are made-up.” However, I find myself in the unenviable position of agreeing with Carlson, because I understand what he was getting at.

The term “assault rifle” is as much political marketing as the terms “death panels” and “Obamacare” were. While the website for the law in question, New York’s SAFE Act, helps gun owners determine if their weapons are “assault weapons,” what they ultimately describe are guns with a series of modifications that make them look scary.

For example, if you have a semi-automatic pistol in NY it is not considered an assault weapon until one adds “one or more of the following military characteristics” such as a folding stock, additional handgrips, or “a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward hand grip, or silencer.”

As much as it pains me to say it, Carlson had a point (although not well-stated). Weapons with these mostly cosmetic functions “look” scary but make the weapon no more dangerous than it already is, which is to say as dangerous as any semi-automatic weapon.

The SAFE Act was passed, like the Patriot Act or the law that caused Japanese-Americans to be rounded up and put into caps during World War II, out of fear. While sensible gun control is a good idea, these sort of reactionary laws only end up targeting the gun owners who try to abide by the law.

Being a gun enthusiast doesn’t immediately make one a mad man. In fact, it is these nonsense, pandering laws that only strengthen groups like the NRA. Guns, of course, are already registered at purchase so to force gun owners to register them again because they look scary only serves to fill the pockets of the gun lobby.

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.