Friday, February 10, 2017

Narrative Warfare: "Ghost Gun" Garbage

Last night, on NBC Nightly News, the network ran a segment about "ghost guns". These are firearms without a serial number, and the majority of these are AR-15s. It is implied that this is somehow a violation of the law, but the segment did report that these are legal under Federal law; the implication is that criminals flock to these because they otherwise could not pass a background check. They then pushed this as a means for (you guessed it) more Federal gun control. Fake. Fucking. News.

This is Narrative Warfare. Law Enforcement knows what firearms criminals use routinely: stolen handguns, some shotguns, and rarely rifles. The effort required to put together a "ghost gun" is well beyond common criminal competencey (nevermind their temperment). The primary emphasis is on stolen, often from people the thieves know (e.g. family), but they'll pick clean a gun store if they can break into it. They are not the sort to do the following:

  • Get an unfinished lower receiver for the rifle (AR-15 being most common) or handgun (1911 being most common) desired. They are nothing more than pricy paperweights, so they are not classified as firearms under Federal statute or regulation; you can buy online and ship straight to your door. Congratulations on your new block of metal or polymer; it's useless until you finish machining it into a complete receiver (at which time is IS a firearm under the law).
  • Locate, purchase, and receive all of the other parts necessary to complete building out that receiver. Good luck there. Sure, you can buy them online and ship to your door; they're just parts, as useless as car parts without an engine or a chassis, so there's no reason to interdict them. Once you have the parts, you have to put it together yourself; that's "manufacturing", and doing so for personal use is explicitly allowed.
  • Have somewhere between $500 (on a good fucking day) and $1000 (more likely) to throw about, including all shipping and handling charges, for all these parts and the tools needed to put them together. (You can find instructions online for free, text and video alike.)
  • Get the ammo. Again, you can buy online and in bulk, but that's yet more time and money you need to afford to do this.

That's a lot of patience and money to get this hypothetical criminal his untraceable rifle. But it makes for a scary story to sell to easily-scared rabbits in cities and suburbs who don't know shit about firearms, their regulations, or their economics. These same targeted audiences also don't know shit about criminal use of firearms, acquisition, or other relevant facts. In short, it's Rhetoric, and with the God-Emperor in power (and the National Rifle Association backing him), it's not going to go anywhere legislatively or politically. But it is likely to gin up some state or city-level bullshit, so it's worth watching for impacts.

But make no mistake, folks. That NBC News segment is basic bitch Narrative Warfare, and they do it because it does work. Once you see it, you won't unsee it, and then noticing the more subtle variations becomes far more likely.

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