The conservative media has spent several days tin-foiling over an interview that First Lady Michelle Obama gave to ABC News’ Good Morning America on Tuesday, in which she referred to the weapon that killed Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton as an “automatic.” The reference did not appear on the air, but was included in the online transcript, which led conservatives to theorize that ABC News was “carrying water” for Mrs. Obama by editing her “ignorant” comment. According to the National Rifle Association, however, the First Lady’s use of the term was legitimate, and her critics (including Fox “hard news” anchor Megyn Kelly) are the ignorant ones.
Hadiya Pendleton was the 15 year-old Chicago girl who was gunned down barely a week after performing at President Obama’s second inauguration. The President made an impassioned reference to her tragic killing during his State of the Union address, urging Congress to vote on the gun regulations he proposed in the wake of the Newtown shooting tragedy. According to police, Hadiya was most likely killed with a semi-automatic handgun.
The term “automatic” is commonly used to describe semi-automatic handguns like the one which killed Hadiya Pendleton, as well as to describe machine guns. Every gun owner knows this. It’s a shorthand, one which is actually more commonly understood than the technical definition being used to smear the First Lady. No gun owner would ever refer to a fully automatic gun as an “automatic” in conversation, they’d say “machine gun,” or “machine pistol,” or “fully automatic.” That’s because when discussing guns people can actually own, people assume that “automatic” is a reference to a semi-automatic. Everyone knows this.
I’d wager every one of Michelle Obama’s critics knows it, too. They are either deliberately acting confused in order to try and score political points, or they are actually ignorant.
Don’t take my word for it, however. Just ask NRA certified handgun instructor Carrie Lightfoot:
AUTOMATIC – A firearm designed to feed cartridges, fire them, eject their empty cases and repeat this cycle as long as the trigger is depressed and cartridges remain in the feed system. Examples: machine guns, submachine guns, selective-fire rifles, including true assault rifles. A fully automatic firearm is capable of sequentially firing two or more cartridges with a single pull of the trigger. A fully automatic firearm is also called a machine gun.
Automatic can also refer to a semi-automatic firearm.
A term used often to describe what is actually a semi-automatic pistol. It is, technically, a misnomer but a near-century of use has legitimized it, and its use confuses only the novice.
Now, it’s one thing for a partisan media figure to willfully ignore something so clearly exculpatory, but an entirely different matter for a hard news anchor to do the same, willfully or not. Megyn Kelly failed to acknowledge that Mrs. Obama’s use of the term was “legitimate,” even according to the NRA, saying instead that it was “not supported by the facts,” and allowing her guest to call the First Lady “ignorant.”
If Fox News is interested in maintaining the “hard news” veneer of its dayside programming, they owe Mrs. Obama a correction, and an apology.
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