Nate Bethea Reinforces Bankruptcy of Anti-Second Amendment Camp

I reported previously how Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) subordinated his prior honorable service in our armed forces to his party's official position on the Second Amendment. This is particularly disappointing because, while we expect somebody like Harry Reid to lie about the difference between military assault rifles and the kinds of rifles that are available to civilians, obfuscation and misrepresentation are not the kind of conduct we expect from a former Marine officer. Nate Bethea similarly begins his attack on the Second Amendment by misrepresenting what is and is not an "assault rifle."

"I could buy that rifle [M-4] online, including all the accessories, with minimal difficulty… But the weapon I carried could be mine again, with only slight variations. I could once again own a little part of that regrettable era."

The "slight variation" to which Mr. Bethea refers is a very major variation. The rifle he carried in Afghanistan is capable of fully automatic fire, which means it shoots as long as the user holds the trigger down and ammunition is available. As most M-4s were manufactured after May 19, 1986, it is impossible to purchase them legally online or offline, in a private sale or through a licensed dealer, under any circumstances. You cannot even get a Federal automatic weapon permit for one. The legal variants require the user to squeeze off each shot, which is probably a good idea anyway for anybody who actually wants to hit the targets at the other end of the firing range rather than just making a lot of noise. Recall that the 501(c)(3) tax exempt Violence Policy Center said openly that it seeks to similarly exploit the public's ignorance, rather than educate the public, over this difference to advance its agenda.

"Assault weapons – just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms – are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons -- anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun -- can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons."

Bethea therefore joins Moulton, Reid, and the VPC in seeking to exploit "the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons." When somebody has to lie, and this includes telling half-truths like the one Bethea told above, he has no genuine arguments to support his position.

Bethea then goes on to smear himself, and by implication his fellow veterans, as hair-trigger loose cannons who cannot be trusted with any firearms whatsoever. This plays straight into the hands of Veterans Administration bureaucrats who reputedly add veterans, in contravention of the 1968 Gun Control Act, to a list of prohibited persons if they seek help to manage their affairs or seek psychological help for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Person and not the Weapon is Always the Problem

Bethea's subsequent arguments do little more than suggest that he is personally too dangerous to be trusted with so much as a two-shot derringer. When another driver screamed at him after he almost hit the driver's pickup truck, "I reached for my ghost appendage, for the M-4 that I would have held between my legs had I still been on a convoy mission, still inside a Humvee." The problem is not an M‑4 or even an M‑4 lookalike, but an individual who is so prone to road rage that he would reach for weapon just because another driver yelled at him. Bethea then adds that, while he was jogging in Anchorage,

"I found myself startled -- a teenage kid was running close behind me, a kid clad in all black, just playing around. In the instant before recognition, before I processed that this was an adolescent without a weapon, before I identified him as safe, I raised my arms as though moving my rifle to the high ready position. I slid my thumb across the screen of my music player as though it were the selector lever moving from safe to semi, ready to put rounds downrange. Because my hands remembered."

Everybody knows that you don't prepare to fire a weapon until you determine whether your prospective target needs shooting. This process can take less than a second under combat (or street) conditions, but one of the basic rules of firearm safety is to always identify your target as something you want to shoot before you so much as begin to do so. Only in movies (Sudden Impact with Clint Eastwood, and the "24" series with Kiefer Sutherland come to mind) do the good guys prepare to shoot before they have identified their targets as hostile. If this story is true, and Mr. Bethea did not simply invent it to support his purported case, then a lot of Afghan civilians and fellow service members are lucky that he never acted on these words when he did carry an M‑4.

AR‑15s are Designed to Kill People. So Were Swords and Muskets.

Bethea then argues further against what he, Rep. Moulton, Harry Reid, and the VPC call assault rifles. "ARs cause horrific damage to humans; that’s why the military developed them." Every weapon on earth that was invented since Cain killed Abel -- the first homicide probably took place hundreds of thousands of years ago -- was developed for this purpose. If your spear could not cause horrific damage to an animal, you went hungry and perhaps got eaten yourself. If your gladius could not kill the man in front of you with a single thrust, he was likely to kill you instead. Vegetius described explicitly how the Roman sword was designed to cause "horrific damage."

"For the Romans not only made a jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal."

The bottom line is that any weapon that cannot "cause horrific damage to humans" is clearly unfit for its intended purpose, which is to stop a murderer, terrorist, rapist, or aggravated assailant from causing horrific damage to the weapon's user. Mr. Bethea knows this, and he is simply putting into practice the tax-exempt Violence Policy Center's recommendation to use sensationalistic yellow journalism to frighten rather than educate the public.

William A. Levinson is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality. 

I reported previously how Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) subordinated his prior honorable service in our armed forces to his party's official position on the Second Amendment. This is particularly disappointing because, while we expect somebody like Harry Reid to lie about the difference between military assault rifles and the kinds of rifles that are available to civilians, obfuscation and misrepresentation are not the kind of conduct we expect from a former Marine officer. Nate Bethea similarly begins his attack on the Second Amendment by misrepresenting what is and is not an "assault rifle."

"I could buy that rifle [M-4] online, including all the accessories, with minimal difficulty… But the weapon I carried could be mine again, with only slight variations. I could once again own a little part of that regrettable era."

The "slight variation" to which Mr. Bethea refers is a very major variation. The rifle he carried in Afghanistan is capable of fully automatic fire, which means it shoots as long as the user holds the trigger down and ammunition is available. As most M-4s were manufactured after May 19, 1986, it is impossible to purchase them legally online or offline, in a private sale or through a licensed dealer, under any circumstances. You cannot even get a Federal automatic weapon permit for one. The legal variants require the user to squeeze off each shot, which is probably a good idea anyway for anybody who actually wants to hit the targets at the other end of the firing range rather than just making a lot of noise. Recall that the 501(c)(3) tax exempt Violence Policy Center said openly that it seeks to similarly exploit the public's ignorance, rather than educate the public, over this difference to advance its agenda.

"Assault weapons – just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms – are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons -- anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun -- can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons."

Bethea therefore joins Moulton, Reid, and the VPC in seeking to exploit "the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons." When somebody has to lie, and this includes telling half-truths like the one Bethea told above, he has no genuine arguments to support his position.

Bethea then goes on to smear himself, and by implication his fellow veterans, as hair-trigger loose cannons who cannot be trusted with any firearms whatsoever. This plays straight into the hands of Veterans Administration bureaucrats who reputedly add veterans, in contravention of the 1968 Gun Control Act, to a list of prohibited persons if they seek help to manage their affairs or seek psychological help for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Person and not the Weapon is Always the Problem

Bethea's subsequent arguments do little more than suggest that he is personally too dangerous to be trusted with so much as a two-shot derringer. When another driver screamed at him after he almost hit the driver's pickup truck, "I reached for my ghost appendage, for the M-4 that I would have held between my legs had I still been on a convoy mission, still inside a Humvee." The problem is not an M‑4 or even an M‑4 lookalike, but an individual who is so prone to road rage that he would reach for weapon just because another driver yelled at him. Bethea then adds that, while he was jogging in Anchorage,

"I found myself startled -- a teenage kid was running close behind me, a kid clad in all black, just playing around. In the instant before recognition, before I processed that this was an adolescent without a weapon, before I identified him as safe, I raised my arms as though moving my rifle to the high ready position. I slid my thumb across the screen of my music player as though it were the selector lever moving from safe to semi, ready to put rounds downrange. Because my hands remembered."

Everybody knows that you don't prepare to fire a weapon until you determine whether your prospective target needs shooting. This process can take less than a second under combat (or street) conditions, but one of the basic rules of firearm safety is to always identify your target as something you want to shoot before you so much as begin to do so. Only in movies (Sudden Impact with Clint Eastwood, and the "24" series with Kiefer Sutherland come to mind) do the good guys prepare to shoot before they have identified their targets as hostile. If this story is true, and Mr. Bethea did not simply invent it to support his purported case, then a lot of Afghan civilians and fellow service members are lucky that he never acted on these words when he did carry an M‑4.

AR‑15s are Designed to Kill People. So Were Swords and Muskets.

Bethea then argues further against what he, Rep. Moulton, Harry Reid, and the VPC call assault rifles. "ARs cause horrific damage to humans; that’s why the military developed them." Every weapon on earth that was invented since Cain killed Abel -- the first homicide probably took place hundreds of thousands of years ago -- was developed for this purpose. If your spear could not cause horrific damage to an animal, you went hungry and perhaps got eaten yourself. If your gladius could not kill the man in front of you with a single thrust, he was likely to kill you instead. Vegetius described explicitly how the Roman sword was designed to cause "horrific damage."

"For the Romans not only made a jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal."

The bottom line is that any weapon that cannot "cause horrific damage to humans" is clearly unfit for its intended purpose, which is to stop a murderer, terrorist, rapist, or aggravated assailant from causing horrific damage to the weapon's user. Mr. Bethea knows this, and he is simply putting into practice the tax-exempt Violence Policy Center's recommendation to use sensationalistic yellow journalism to frighten rather than educate the public.

William A. Levinson is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.