For whatever reason, I found myself arguing with idiots and anti-gunners (but I repeat myself!) over the weekend and I noticed several versions of a persistent lie cropping up.
The simplest version is the Feinstein Fallacy: that some scary-looking semiautomatic rifles are far more dangerous than other guns. Yes, you and I know it's total nonsense, but J. Random Never-touched-a-gun sees that weird-lookin' gun, all flat black, flat dark earth, O.D. green and/or desert tan, slathered in rails and incomprehensible adjustments and bristling with accessories, and he or she is more than willing to credit the thing with the power to "blow a man's head clean off" while still regarding Uncle Jim's .44-40 lever-action hunting rifle as a friendly, familiar object. Wrong on both counts -- "Is gun. Is dangerous," as the old line has it -- but it's a tough point to get across. If you can trust a person with .22 rimfire or a shotgun, you can trust 'em with a .223 and if you can't, why're they walking around without a keeper?
The "advanced" version is even more pernicious and consists of sly insinuation that the rifles used in infamous mass shootings were in some way modified for extra deadliness, typically implying full-auto operation. It's not true -- once again, you and I know that it's not so simple to do and a Federal felony as well, which dissuades most sane persons from trying. I doubt the likelihood of criminal charges slows down the average murderous madman but the degree of difficulty certainly does.
Both of these ideas frequently crop up in emotion-laden discussions, in which logic is ridiculed as "heartless" and any notion of armed defense scorned as impossible. But they've got to be countered nevertheless.
3 months ago