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VICTOR JOECKS: Sisolak promised to ban assault rifles, but he doesn’t know what that term means

If you want a perfect encapsulation of the false promise of gun control and the duplicity of many of its advocates, look at Gov. Steve Sisolak.

When Sisolak was running for governor last year, he put out an ad describing his reaction to the Oct. 1 massacre. As somber music played, he described walking through the shooting site and starting the victims’ fund.

“But, you know, money won’t stop the next massacre,” Sisolak said in the ad. “Not when Donald Trump protects the NRA, and Adam Laxalt won’t enforce background checks. When I’m governor, we’re going to ban assault rifles, bump stocks, silencers.”

The implication was clear. Republicans would rather pander to the gun lobby than protect innocent people. Sisolak, his voice filled with moral condescension, would — by banning “assault rifles” — save lives.

Just one problem. Sisolak now admits he doesn’t even know what an assault rifle is.

“I don’t have enough of an intimate knowledge about exactly what an assault rifle is,” he said recently when asked by the Nevada Independent if he’d pursue an assault weapons ban in the 2021 legislative session. “You know, I’ve met with folks, I’m trying to become more educated. It’s not the look of a weapon that makes an assault rifle. Is it the velocity? Is it the expanded capacity to rapid-fire? I mean, those are the kinds of things. Once you ban one thing, you ban product A, they come up with product B. That’s going to be the same thing that product A did. All you’re doing is making more money for gun manufacturers.”

Oh. Now he tells us. His plan was such a load of garbage that he doesn’t even know what he was talking about. Even for a politician, the dishonesty here is staggering. Sisolak politicized the largest mass shooting in modern American history to push an incoherent sound bite.

It’s worth pointing out the glaring media bias here, too. During the campaign, I tried to ask Sisolak how he defined assault rifles. His campaign refused to talk to me. His staffers even used Switch security to physically prevent me from attending a Sisolak press conference. In May 2018, I wrote a column headline, “The three questions Sisolak, Chris G. won’t answer.” The first question was, “How do you define assault rifles/weapons?”

I’m not the only journalist in Nevada. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no one else in the media made such a simple inquiry. Sisolak’s answer, however, shows why that question was so necessary. When it comes to questioning liberal talking points, the lack of journalistic initiative is stunning.

This happens throughout the country. Gun grabbers frequently talk about banning “assault weapons,” but that term doesn’t have an agreed-upon meaning. For instance, the since-expired 1994 Assault Weapons Ban defined the term as a semi-automatic rifle with two of the following features: a pistol grip, collapsible stock, bayonet mount, flash suppressor or grenade launcher.

If you know anything about firearms, the assertion that these secondary characteristics make a firearm more deadly is laughable. Grenades are already illegal.

What the term has come to mean is “scary-looking rifles that mass shooters use.” But, as Sisolak now admits, “It’s not the look of a weapon that makes an assault rifle.” This puts gun grabbers in a double bind. They’re either banning secondary characteristics that won’t stop mass shootings — even if gun bans worked, which they don’t — or they’re banning every semi-automatic rifle in the America, which is politically unpalatable.

It’s much easier to say you want to ban assault rifles — and then trust the media won’t dig deep enough to find out if you know what you’re talking about.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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