Cupp: On guns, let's focus on facts, not fear

Story highlights

  • The CNN Guns Project explores the role of guns in the United States
  • Those advocating for gun control need to know what they are talking about, Cupp says
  • So-called "experts" know so little about what they are covering, she says
  • Criminals won't be deterred by gun laws, Cupp says

S.E. Cupp is a political commentator for CNN and is also the author of "Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity," co-author of "Why You're Wrong About the Right," a columnist at the New York Daily News and a political commentator for Glenn Beck's The Blaze. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)What's the difference between a semi-automatic weapon and a fully-automatic weapon? What's the definition of an "assault weapon"? What features are cosmetic and which make a gun truly dangerous? Is there really such a thing as "high capacity ammunition"?

You might not know the answers to these questions. But you'd expect the lobbyists, activists, pundits and politicians who advocate for gun control to, wouldn't you?
Yet more often than not, the very people looking to peel back our Constitutionally-protected Second Amendment rights are the ones who can't answer these simple questions. Whether it's a pundit who doesn't know the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic rifle or a congresswoman looking to ban high-capacity magazines but can't explain how magazines work, shouldn't language matter?
    This is more than just a matter of semantics. When the President of the United States promises he's not coming after your hunting rifle or self-defense handgun, but legislators propose assault weapons bans on guns that could include your hunting rifle and self-defense handgun, it matters.
    When pundits and activists use terms like "rapid-fire" and "assault weapon," but can't explain which guns those terms refer to, it matters.
    When newspapers don't distinguish between gun criminals and law-abiding gun owners, publishing the names and addresses of the latter to create a false moral equivalency between the two, it matters.
    And when politicians tell women they can't be trusted to defend themselves with a gun, but can't explain why, it matters.
    I can't think of another issue where so-called "experts" are required to know so little about the very thing they are covering. Passion, apparently, is the only requisite.
    This ignorance goes well beyond surface-level basics. There's a fundamental misunderstanding of how gun crime works, who is to blame, and what to do about it.
    And because they do not understand the facts of gun crime, these gun control advocates instead prey on fear and emotion to spread an ill-informed agenda.
    For example, do you know how many gun crimes will be prevented by banning guns in retail outlets like Target and Starbucks? Exactly, precisely zero.
    That's because committing crimes of any sort, including with a firearm, at Target and Starbucks was already illegal in all 50 states and still is. Criminals don't follow gun laws and will not be deterred by the invisible line of demarcation that Target has said it will not even enforce and that gun control advocates are celebrating as a meaningful gun safety victory.
    So-called "gun-free zones," as we have tragically seen at schools, hospitals, military installations and retail areas, do absolutely nothing to prevent gun crime.
    Other utterly meaningless measures, like limiting magazine capacities, have proven so unworkable, unenforceable and ineffective, lawmakers have attempted to roll them back. (And in New York, they succeeded.)
    In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper even apologized to his state's sheriffs for passing legislation he admits he didn't understand and didn't think anyone would actually vote for.
    Even the so-called "smart gun" technology that gun control advocates support, like gun-locking and --tracing mechanisms and ballistic fingerprinting, isn't very smart. To work, it still requires the gun user to register the weapon, something we know criminals don't do very often.
    Knowing things like this, you'd think the "experts" on gun control would pursue other ideas to prevent gun crime. But facts are inconvenient and political symbolism is much, much easier.
    Gun rights advocates are just as interested in preventing gun crime. But we want to do it armed with a set of facts and a basic level of knowledge about the issue. If the gun control groups want to join us in the fight, then they have to study up.