The Challenge We Face With Ignorance About Guns


I was watching Fox and Friends on Thursday morning. Pete Hegseth was substituting for Steve Doocey, alongside regulars Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade, and in their last hour, about nine minutes in, Pete mentioned how the discussion always turns to guns. Ainsley asked Pete what he uses a “gun like that for,” implying that an AR-15 is something odd or weird.  Pete made an explanation about his right to defend himself and so on, but he seemed unprepared for the question, and I think Ainsley was trying to ambush him a little.  Watch this video, beginning at 9:20:

Here’s the problem: Ainsley Earhardt doesn’t apparently know the first thing about firearms, and Pete Hegseth doesn’t know how to defend his position very well.

Both aspects of this small clip are discouraging to me, because I am terribly frustrated that Ms. Earhardt hasn’t taken the time to inform herself, and Mr. Hegseth, a veteran, hasn’t made himself more able to defend his position and be prepared to answer the kind of question Earhardt asked. It shouldn’t be difficult to shine a little light in this darkness.

I’d love to help them both.  First, Ms. Earhardt should be open to a little weapons education.  I’m sure with his friends and connections, Mr. Hegseth can find somebody to facilitate a little range-time and take the Fox and Friends show on the road, maybe to Ms. Earhardt’s home state of South Carolina. In that state, it should be easy to find people who’d be willing to demonstrate the difference between a select-fire AR or AK type rifle and the more run-of-the-mill auto-loading (or semi-automatic) firearms so that she could be informed.  After all, this is not difficult.  Let Ms. Earhardt fire the actual military versions, on automatic(with coaching) and then fire the semi-automatic cousins. Show that externally, the two weapons can look exactly alike, minus the selector for automatic.

Now, with respect to Mr. Hegseth, it’s a somewhat easier cure. Hegseth seems to be a reasonably intelligent guy, but based on this segment, I don’t think he’s spent much time thinking about how to defend his position in an highly politicized environment.  He should have asked Ms. Earhardt, first: “Do you know the difference between an actual so-called “assault rifle” which is the actual weapon of war, and a civilian modern sporting rifle, which however it looks, is not an “assault weapon?”

Whatever Ms. Earhardt may or may not know, it doesn’t seem she’s well-versed in firearms.  At that point, she would probably be reduced to: “No, I don’t know the difference.”  This is where education can occur.  Let me help. The two popular types, AK and AR, have several things in common.  In the main, they are gas-operated rifles that us the spent gas of one round to automatically load the next round. Where the difference between the military version and the civilian version comes in is the fact that the military versions have the ability to continue firing by simply holding the trigger. In this mode, the cyclic rate of these rifles can be extraordinary, in the case of the AR platform, obtaining a rate of 800 rounds per minute. The AKs, due to their heavier reciprocating assembly(bolt, carrier, piston, etc) are somewhat slower, attaining roughly 600 rounds per minute, but their bullets are roughly twice as heavy, carrying more energy even though they move at roughly 2/3s to 3/4s the muzzle velocity of the .223/5.56mm round used by the AR platform.

Hegseth should be well-versed in the technical differences between automatic and semiautomatic weapons. That’s not his problem.  His problem is his inability to express the need he might have of such a rifle, but more importantly the right he has to own one.  My readers are well aware of the fact that I believe machine guns ARE covered(and protected) by the Second Amendment.  Let assume, however, that we intended only to defend the right to own a semi-automatic version that is a machine-gun look-alike.  Let’s start with our right. Leftists and other anti-gun folk claim that when the 2nd Amendment was adopted, the standard service arm of the day was a musket. This is true, however, both semi-automatic and automatic arms had been invented, but were seen as too expensive for Congress to obtain in numbers sufficient to outfit their army.  However, it is important to understand that the musket was the standard of that day.  So was the feather quill pen and ink well, along with the manually set printing press.  The notion was that armed citizens ought to have and maintain the ability to resist an overbearing government, which would imply directly that the founders thought citizens ought to be at parity with the Army, at least in terms of firearms.  At the very least then, we can see that the founders’ intended object of the the 2nd Amendment was to guarantee the right to an armed resistance in case of blossoming tyranny.

Part of the problem is that Earhardt asked the question: What do you use them(“assault weapons”) for?  The great thing about the modern AR type rifle is that it works great for many things. They’re excellent all-around ranch guns, they’re excellent for self-defense in situations where the defender is outnumbered, and they are useful in hunting. (Some state prohibit some calibers for hunting, but it may be game-dependent and so on.) Of course, you can built an AR-type rifle in many calibers, and also an AK-type. At times, I’ve seen AR-15 platform rifles in at least a dozen calibers, AR-10s in several more, and AKs in at least a half-dozen, including 12 and 20 gauge shotguns.

Hegseth, caught a little flat-footed, managed to say “for personal protection,” but he should have had a laundry list: “To defend my home, to hunt, to do target practice, I compete with others, and I keep up my skills in case I’m ever called upon to return to active duty to defend my country,” or some variant of that. Instead, he came across as somebody who walked into a battle he didn’t know he was going to be called upon to fight.  I do wonder if Earhardt didn’t ambush him with that question.  She may be sincere, but I think the question was part of satisfying an agenda.  Of course, that’s fine, but Hegseth should have been ready.

Now, if Hegseth was clever, he’d make a pitch to do a remote from some place in South Carolina, perhaps he could contact the good folks at Palmetto State Armory, and maybe for the publicity, they’d be willing to host a little shoot and bring Ms. Ainsley down there to her home state and do some shooting.  I think it would be awesome. They sell both AK and AR platform rifles, and they have a great reputation.  They may even be able to get somebody who owns properly-licensed automatics to do a little demonstration.  The point is, it shouldn’t be hard for FoxNews to provide actual education to their audience, if they wanted to do so.

Let people see the differences. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then video is worth a million.  I think this is the value of having people in the gun-owning community reach out to the woefully uneducated to fill in the vacuum. People have a tendency to fill in the unknown with the bogey-man. They don’t fill in the unknown with rainbows and unicorns.  If you can alleviate the vacuum by replacing it with actual knowledge, questions like Earhardt’s will be answered and the bogey-man will be vanquished.  At the same time, somebody like Hegseth must do much more to be prepared for those kinds of questions. He should have crushed it, but he came across looking a little evasive and uncomfortable in his answer.  That’s definitely NOT what the gun community needs.

It could be that I’m picking at nits, but I think people who are going to discuss gun ownership before audiences of a million or more ought to have their acts together.  I like Hegseth, as he seems committed to assisting veterans’ organizations, and he certainly seems to have his heart in the right place. It’s not that his answer was “bad,” so much as it seemed incomplete and unprepared. Earhardt, earning the money she does working at FoxNews, ought to be able to alleviate her ignorance if she was sincere. Given her home state, it should be easy for her to discover the answers.  I think it’s fair to suggest that before one throws around terms like “assault weapons,” one ought to know what that terms is being used to describe.

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7 Responses to The Challenge We Face With Ignorance About Guns

  1. the unit says:

    I was thinking how to prepare if everything finally collapses…i.e. everything. You know protect all I may have put up to be prepared for safety and needs of my family.
    Man, can you imagine what I did for Y2K? All kinds of food stuff stored in containers filled with nitrogen. And the usual other stuff.
    Then I began wondering how to protect it from all the folks down the street/and surrounding blocks who hadn’t prepared. Being an old fellow (of no color) acronyms are hard to remember. I thought I remembered about IUD’s. Finally after googling discovered I was thinking about IED’s around my house. Afraid though I’d forget where to step. :)
    I do recognize where this is all heading. I just sometimes use “guillotine humor” to make it threw the day. And threw is spelled right…as I throw myself into bed after making it through the day after all this crap that’s going on. :)
    P.S. Too old now to do all that again as to prep. Y’all young’en’s don’t let it fall now, ya hear!

    • Mark America says:


      You’re never too old to prep. Gallows humor is often the most effective for snarky old sarcastic fellas like me. You know, the idea of defending yourself should never be far from your mind. You’re worth defending. So no, you’re not off the hook.

      Go get yourself an inexpensive AR while you can still get one and a few mags, and a case of ammo. Locate a range, practice, zero your rifle, and once in a while, go back to the range and shoot a little. I have every confidence in you. Otherwise, when the “balloon goes up,” who the heck will I be writing for anyway? Have a good weekend, my friend!

  2. RickWA says:

    I’ve found that the best response is to declare clearly and unambiguously that I need no “reason” or “purpose” for exercising my God-given and natural right to own a firearm – whether of the AR variety or my beloved revolver. As soon as we go down the road of parsing, explaining, or accommodating some request for justification, we have ceded ground to those who oppose our liberty. These people may as well ask why I need to respire.

    Hello, Mark, my old friend. I am very gratified to learn that you are well! It has been a long time. Nice forum you have here.

    • Mark America says:

      Rick! How are ya! I agree with you, but most moderates want to give some reason beyond “it’s my right, ” which I maintain, like you, is all that’s required!

      Good to see you. I go through fits and starts here at the blog as time permits. You know me, I’ve never run short of things to do, only the time to do them. And you?

      • RickWA says:

        All good here in the Northwest. My youngest is a sophomore in HS. Middle son plays football for the USAFA. Oldest son graduated college two years ago and lives in downtown SF (he’ll tire of that quickly enough). Letting my daughter finish HS and then we will be moving away from the Portland area. This place is ground zero. Looking forward to the next phase – and whatever that brings.

        I was told only today that you had this blog and I had to come chase you down. Hope your wife and daughter are well?

        • Mark America says:

          Rick, I’m glad to hear you and yours are well. The wife has had to slow down, had a heart attack a few years ago, daughter is another story all her own, but I have a grand daughter now, so I count myself lucky.

          I don’t envy you the location. You can always come to Texas and help keep the place Red.

          Don’t be a stranger. I’m making my best guess at who told you. Hails from Oklahoma?

          Thanks, and again, great to see you here after all these years! You should have been here in my hayday when a few folks at the Blaze daily stole stories and materials from me. It was a hoot.

          I’ve slowed down a lot since then. Current employment is like two jobs.

          • RickWA says:

            Your Oklahoma guess is spot on.

            Sorry to hear about the health issues with your wife, but I’m glad she has the opportunity to slow it all down. I know you, in particular, always had “a lot of balls in the air” so to speak. Congratulations!! on the grandchild. You beat me to that milestone.

            Isn’t The Blaze a Glenn Beck operation? I don’t follow it and don’t know much about it/the culture. Taking material without citation is horrible. Sounds like a bit of drama you could’ve done without.

            Finally…yes, Texas is on our list. We lived in Dripping Springs for a few years 1999-2002 and LOVED IT.

            I will not be a stranger now that I’ve found the page. This is good stuff.

            All the best!