Elon Musk caught between praise and pushback when he weighs in on gun rights

Billionaire inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk is facing both praise and pushback from gun owners over his middle-of-the-road approach to the Second Amendment.

Speaking with CNBC via email, he first expressed his unequivocal support for the Second Amendment.

“I strongly believe that the right to bear arms is an important safeguard against potential tyranny of government. Historically, maintaining their power over the people is why those in power did not allow public ownership of guns,” he said.

Gun owners greatly appreciated hearing this. However, he then admitted that he also supports “tight background checks” for all gun sales, in addition to tighter restrictions surrounding the ownership of “assault weapons.”

Specifically, he supports “limiting sales of assault weapons to people in special circumstances, like gun range owners, or people who live in a ‘high risk location, like gang warfare,'” as reported by CNBC.

When pressed on Twitter about his beliefs, he doubled down on wanting to limit the sale of so-called “assault weapons” / “assault rifles.”


But these countervailing positions left gun owners frustrated for a couple of key reasons.

One, there’s no such thing as an “assault weapon” or “assault rifle.”

“Assault rifle” is a made-up term with no definitive definition. In fact, Steven Dettelbach, who’s currently in the process of being confirmed as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, admitted as much during a hearing Wednesday.

During the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton noted that Dettelbach had called “for a ban on so-called assault weapons” back in 2018.

“What is an assault weapon? Could you define it for me?” the Republican senator then asked the ATF nominee.

Dettelbach responded by admitting that he had no answer.

“Senator, I — when I was a candidate for office, I did talk about restrictions on assault weapons. I did not define the term, and I haven’t gone through the process of defining that term. That would only be for the Congress, if it chose to take that up, to do,” he said.

“And I acknowledge it would be a difficult task to define assault weapons, because on one hand, you don’t want it to be so narrow that it doesn’t offer the protections that are intended. And on the other hand, you certainly don’t want it be so broad so that it infringes unnecessarily on the rights of citizens. So I acknowledge that’s a difficult task, but it would be for this body to do, not for me.”

Two, weapons that might be considered an “assault rifle” are rarely used in mass shootings like the one in Uvalde that precipitated the left’s latest push for gun control.

A recent report from the National Institute of Justice found that of the mass shootings that occurred between 1966 and 2019, 77 percent involved handguns, not rifles or so-called “assault rifles.”

Three, tighter background checks — known more commonly as “universal” background checks — reportedly make a scant difference.

“[T]here is little evidence that broad background-check laws ‘actually make a difference.’ A 2019 study found that California’s 1991 expansion of background checks ‘was not associated with a net change in the firearm homicide rate over the ensuing 10 years,'” according to Reason magazine.

Moreover, in the states that do contain state-level “universal” background check laws, those laws are reportedly frequently flouted.

“[I]n a country where civilians own more than 400 million firearms, a would-be killer with a disqualifying record would not have much trouble finding a source willing to flout that rule, as gun owners routinely do in states that notionally require ‘universal background checks,'” also according to Reason.

And indeed, according to former National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch, the Uvalde mass shooter passed a background check with no problems.

The same is true of the Buffalo mass shooter.


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Vivek Saxena


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