Gun Control

What the Hell Is an 'Assault Weapon'?


Making the case for a new and improved "assault weapon" ban, the White House predictably complains that "manufacturers were able to circumvent the [1994] prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons." As I have said before, what President Obama describes as circumvention was actually compliance, because the definition of "assault weapon" hinged on those "cosmetic" features. In other words, the law targeted guns based on features, such as bayonet mounts and threaded barrels, with little or no practical utility in the hands of mass murderers (or ordinary criminals). The same is true of New York's brand-new "assault weapon" ban, which benefited from more than two decades of experience with "circumvention" (starting with California's 1989 law), and it will be true of whatever new definition Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) proposes. The underlying problem is that there is no essential, objectively identifiable "assaultness" that makes these arbitrarily chosen weapons especially threatening. They are not even the weapons of choice for mass shooters, who prefer ordinary handguns.

One therefore wonders what Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and a self-described libertarian, was thinking when he wrote this in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed piece:

Renewing a ban on assault rifles could result in a net gain in that many mass murderers have relied on such weapons. Yes, they could still use other sorts of guns. And yes, law-abiding gun owners will howl. But we don't find it too great an imposition on liberty to ban private ownership of military grade weapons. Why not add semiautomatic assault weapons to the list?

Maybe because, unlike machine guns carried by soldiers, "assault weapons" are no more dangerous than the guns that fail to qualify for that label because they lack a functionally insignificant feature. Constitutional (and libertarian) issues aside, this distinction is objectionable because it is based on a fraud.

Tom Diaz, author of The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It, agrees. Sort of. Here is what he says about banning "assault weapons" in a recent blog post:

It is well understood that the 1994 law was a failure in large part because its definition of what constituted an assault weapon was a fanciful agglomeration of "bells and whistles," most of which had absolutely nothing to do with what makes assault weapons so dangerous. An effective law will focus on one prime feature—the ability to accept a high-capacity magazine.

Now we are getting somewhere. A gun that can accept a "high-capacity magazine" (i.e., a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds) is functionally different from a gun that cannot. But if every firearm fitting that description were banned, many commonly used guns would be illegal, including popular pistols made by Glock, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and Walther. So would various hunting and target rifles that accept detachable magazines but are not currently considered "assault weapons." Revolvers would still be legal, as would shotguns, single-shot weapons such as bolt-action rifles, and semiautomatic firearms that have to be reloaded after firing 10 (or fewer) rounds. This would be a big change to the gun market, though not terribly effective without mass confiscation, given all the millions of noncompliant weapons already in circulation.

But if this is what gun controllers really want, they have a funny way of saying it. Why would they talk about "assault weapons" at all if what they have in mind is a ban on every gun capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading? Maybe because they thought they could back their way into a broad gun ban by pushing a half-assed, nonsensical law that was bound to fail.

NEXT: Congresswoman Proposes "Aaron's Law" after Swartz

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  1. One therefore wonders what Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and a self-described libertarian

    I like “self-professed” it has a more derisive negative connotation.

    1. Self-professed skeptic (except of government propsganda).

      1. Yeah, you would think someone who calls themselves a skeptic would know better than to open his mouth about topics he is clearly ignorant about. People making shit up when they don’t know what they’re talking about is the reason to be a skeptic, not the purpose. What he said made no sense at all.

        1. I read one of his books that basically dealt with the bullshit topic of evolutionary morality. It was not all bad, he made some interesting points (particularly about non-duality) although not the ones he set out for the topic. The way he proved his conclusions was to bake those conclusions into his premises at the beginning of a chapter, then go through logical reasoning based on those premises throughout the chapter and thought that he somehow proved something by the end. Funny how logic works.

          1. Are you saying a boot-licker begged a question.

            I am shocked, sir, shocked and amazed.

    2. Seriously. I suppose libertarians could disagree on private possession of say, nuclear weapons, but if you favor magazine capacity restrictions, you’re not a libertarian. Which is fine, most people aren’t. But don’t pretend you are.

      1. But we don’t find it too great an imposition on liberty

        As soon as these words come out, you know he sure as fuck isn’t.

        1. Yeah, that one got me instantly. As I said in the other thread I dont give a fuck what he finds to be acceptable impositions on my liberty. I knew that guy was an authority worshiping bootlicker, but wow, where I disagreed with him before I now find him to be detestable.

        2. You don’t NEED to be allowed to own a black vehicle. Some people find them scary, you know.

      2. I myself, would say that definitely rules you out as Libertarian, and puts you right up close and cozy to the statist camp.

        Lots of things libertarians disagree on, at least to the degree of, but shit like that don’t get you into the club. Sorry, faux Libertarians. I know a few of them myself.

      3. I’d expect a libertarian to be in the same ball park as a “constitutional conservative” on gun rights. Maybe not with the same emphasis and tone but essentially on the same ideological ground. It is bizarre anyone who professes a strong belief in individual rights would support blanket restrictions of those rights on the federal level. Even a squishy consequentialist can be on the right side of the issue based on evidence and philosophy.

      4. A 10 round mag cap limit for a semiauto is so low as to be ridiculous. I would agree that someone claiming to be libertarian is BSing if they support that.

        But what about 200 round capacity mags? Is it unlibertarian to think those should be illegal, at least under some circumstances?

        Once you admit that govt has a compelling interest to outlaw some weapon (like nukes), there’s going to be gray areas.

        1. I have a compromise. No magazines over 1,000,000 rounds. I’ll support that ban, for everyone-cops and fed agencies.

          1. “Now we’re just arguing over the price”


              1. That wasn’t intended as a dig, don’t get me wrong.

        2. What does mag capacity have to do with anything? You’re in “why does anybody need” territory now. I think belt-fed heavy machine guns are just fine. I wouldn’t freak out on someone who thinks ownership of such should require something not quite as restrictive as current NFA rules but I would still strongly disagree.

          1. Magazine capacity is potentially a big deal because the shooter is vulnerable while switching magazines. Which is why hi-cap mags are important for self-defense.

            If you say mag cap doesn’t matter, why do you want hi-caps?

            Note that I’m not saying I favor capacity limits (I certainly don’t favor a 10 round limit, WAY too low) but it’s not an irrelevant thing to think about.

            1. What capacity limit would you support?

              1. I’m waiting for the results of the CDC study to decide.

                1. This is armchair hypothesizing, but I’d imagine the split-second changes between magazines probably affects defenders more than it does assailants. Assailants are presumably one step ahead by virtue of being the initiator of the encounter. As such, they are more likely prepared to grab to eject a magazine and insert another than the defender, who is more likely to suffer from a stress response depriving them of some of the concentration and manual dexterity used in changing magazines.

                  1. (continued): If this is the case, I’d imagine that having the option between normal-capacity and large-capacity magazines is probably more beneficial to a defender. Knowing the options available to them, people who wish to adequately prepare for attacks can train with varying magazine sizes to see what works best for them.

                  2. Plus assailants are more likely to have multiple weapons at hand to switch to.

            2. The shooter is vulnerable any time one of his potential victims is also armed.

              Why make people duck, cover, cower, and/or pray while waiting for their executioner to go empty? That is what the capacity limit crowd favors – certainly not any sort of equality in access to lethal force.

              All of which ignores the truth of the matter, these people aren’t being reasonable or sensible. They are all hall bent on banning anything and everything, but know they cannot come right out and say it lest they be forever marginalized.

              These ‘gun safety’ measures are as grossly ineffective as, and as much an affront to liberty as Obamacare. And much like Obamacare the left knows it and accept it as nothing more than interim steps towards what they truly desire – single payor and a ban on civilian ownership of firearms.

              Same players, same playbook.

        3. But what about 200 round capacity mags? Is it unlibertarian to think those should be illegal, at least under some circumstances?

          Due to their propensity for jamming, handing them out for free would probably be vastly more effective in mitigating the damage of a spree killer than the 10 round limit.

        4. Even with the lightweight .223 ammo the AR uses, a fully loaded 200 round drum magazine would probaly weight as nuch as the rifle not to mention the size of the thing. That’s probably why you never see them.

          1. yeah, I know spelling. I’m lucky to get these comments off at all with my 4G acting up.

          2. What if someone puts it on some shooting bags on a coffee cart.

            1. Sure you could do it but how does that stop any of the mass killings over the last decade that the ban is supposed to prevent? You push the cooffe cart through the school and somehow aim and fire the weapon while doing so?

        5. There are no gray areas. If you have the means to use the weapon in a lawful manner that doesn’t injure anyone who doesn’t want to be injured/and or poses a threat to you/people under your care, or destroys any property that doesn’t belong to you, them you should be allowed to have it. ‘No nukes’ isn’t because of popular agreement, it’s because no one (that I know of) have a private range to set them off on (and completely contain the fall out).

          1. How do you determine someone’s intent when they’re buying/transfering the thing though?

            1. Not sure why you have to care about intent, anymore than you can about it when you sell someone 1000 gallons of diesel fuel. Could be using it to fuel your tractor, could be using it to make AMFO. Determining intent is nebulous at best, since you very well could have bought it completely intending to do nothing but fuel your tractor, and then decided to make AMFO 3 weeks later when the voices in your head started. This is the price of a free society; people will make bad choices – through ignorance, malice, or carelessness – with that freedom. Society balances that freedom with severity of punishment proportionate to the size of the mistake to create a cost/benefit that encourages rational actors to err on the side of caution and diligence.

        6. I don’t think the government has a compelling argument to outlaw some weapon. If you can afford the maintenance and logistical side of owning a nuke (or a tank or an F-15), more power to you.

          I know that’s getting dangerously close to an anarchist pov, but oh well.

        7. A 10 round magazine limit will do nothing. I can change mags in 2 seconds flat. Do you think you can disarm someone in 2 seconds? You would be betting your life on it and you would lose.
          Anything over 30 is unwieldy. Not many 200 round mags out there other then the rare drum mag.

          The idiots in the press and in the government are too dense to realize (or admit) the problem is nut jobs with a violent streak. They need to be put away, but that just opens up another can of worms.

          1. The ultimate goal is to repeal the 2nd Amendment and ban all guns entirely. This is really the only thing that will have any appreciable effect.

            1. On the law abiding hoi polloi.

              On the hard core criminal class and the nomenklatura? Not in the least.

        8. I think that gets more into consumer advice territory, because the reason not to own one of those big drum-type magazines is because the springs tend to get a little weak when you’re down to about 20 rounds.

        9. The history of magazines with capacities of over 50 is that they jam. Certainly the Thompson drum magazines were notorious for it. On that basis, I would argue for requiring them.


      5. Governments have had a much worse track record when it comes to arms than private citizens.

    3. Shermer really is a shitbag. And some people at Cato have been disappointing. Even the ARI is disturbingly silent/weak.

      1. I usually enjoy reading Shermer destroy creationists and the like, but this is pretty disappointing.

        He completely abandons his normally excellent attention to detail and just goes along with the “SEMI-AUTOMATIC IS THE SAME AS A MACHINE GUN DERRRRRRP” talking point.

        He sounds EXACTLY like the religious nutbags he so properly thrashes.

        And yet another faux-libertarian is exposed. Take the seat over there Shermer, next to Bill Maher but behind Glenn Beck. Enjoy the view.

        1. Sitting next to Bill Mahe and looking at the back of Glenn Beck sounds like a pretty serious punishment. Put Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow behind and to the other side and I’d rather have my skin peeled off.

          1. As fucking terrible as that sounds, neither Maddow nor Stewart have ever even hinted at libertarian sensibilities (despite the fact that they are able to spew their nonsense thanks to libertarian principles) so they do not need to sit in that group.

          2. And people wonder why a decent human being would need 10 round capacity. Sounds like you’ve pretty much given the ideal example of where IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!

          3. Beck actually sounds almost libertarian in this show he did with Penn Jillette.

            1. Had a conversation a year ago with a Beckhead who thought that because he was Beckhead that made him a Libertarian. He had no clue that he had no clue. It was sad.

              1. Meh, honestly, I’m not hugely bothered by Glenn Beck. He always kind of strikes me as a conservative bumbling his way toward libertarianism. Yeah, they have no clue that they have no clue. But, there’s always some hope that they might get a clue. And they do seem to pick up, bit by bit. The Bill Mahers of the world, on the other hand, aren’t stupid. They’re dishonest. They’ll latch onto libertarian principles to suit themselves knowing full well they’ll turn their back on them at the earliest convenience.

                1. I’m encouraged by the faux-libertarians, after all, nobody tries to counterfeit Timex’s. They counterfeit Rolex’s, Phillippe Patek, etc. We go the goods, we’re the real deal, and everyone wants to be us, and since they can’t, they at least want to be thought of like us.

                2. While no where near the mendacity level of Maher Beck is not particularly honest either. He’s more carnival barker than dedicated ideologue. Which is why, for all his bluster and giant megaphone, he’s largely ineffective. That’s they way he wants it.

    4. “But we don’t find it too great an imposition on liberty to ban private ownership of military grade weapons. Why not add semiautomatic assault weapons to the list?”

      If Shermer is referring to nuclear weapons, I think he is missing a very important characteristic that distinguishes the use of nuclear weapons from guns. While guns can be aimed at select, individual targets, any nuclear weapon with a yield comparable to 100,000 kt or more will undoubtably kill thousands of innocent bystanders. This is where I draw the line that nuclear weapons are fundamentally immoral to utilize. But unlike Shermers, who apparently doesn’t mind that the government gets to have them, I am of the opinion that nobody (government or private citizen) should be able to use nuclear weapons.

      As far as takes and military aircraft, to be honest, I really don’t see a principled libertarian position for banning their private use. Artillary shells and air-to-air missiles and bombs are destructive instruments, but they can be aimed and used against selective targets pretty effectively. Perhaps, like my opinion of nuclear bombs, it’s best (in a practical sense) that private citizens don’t have them. But so long as the government has them, isn’t it in the spirit and intent of the Second Amendment that private citizens be able to shoot back with as much firepower as the government?

      1. *tanks

      2. That’s pretty much my take on it as well. I believe anyone should be able to own whatever weapons they want, with the exception ofweapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical, nuclear, what have you). But these rules apply to everyone, including the government. Because I sure as shit don’t trust those guys to have that kind of power, any more than the yokel millionaire down the street.

        1. Biological and chemical agents are problematic for me personally as a libertarian because they continue to affect a person long after they have inevitably been neutralized. For me, self-defense ends at the point your life is no longer in imminent danger. For example, I am a little bit concerned about the use of mustard gas against an assailant because the chemical will continue to cause integumentary necrosis long after he has been cuffed and sent to prison.

          1. I never go anywhere without my mutated anthrax. (For duck hunting.)

        2. The definition of firepower for civil society should be drawn at posse comitatus, such to say what the Uniformed Armed Services operate, and what everyone else can have.

          That puts every other government entity in the same rights-to-arms as the populace they work in. If only ten round clips and no ‘military style assault weapons’ is law of the land, it is for all the government this side of posse comitatus, too. Cops are no army.

      3. The very fact that he uses the phrase “semiautomatic assault weapons” shows his ignorance and bias. It’s a bullshit term that basically means “modern rifles and pistols.”

        1. I wonder…has Barack Obama been recorded as shooting a gun? Ever? I honestly do not know.

          1. I remember first shooting a gun. It was a little scary at first and I still have problems dealing with the noise and recoil. I can probably fire off 5 shots and be satisfied for a long while. But the experience did do a lot to shake some of my preconceptions about guns: 1) They are not hard to use. 2) Aiming your sights may be a little hairy, but I calmly hit my target on each shot. 3) I didn’t develop a crazy bloodthirst; like I said, I got off a few shots, and then I was pretty much done for the day.

          2. Obama specializes in shooting off his mouth.

          3. Hell, we don’t even know what kind of grades he got in college. Although I can guess.

        2. He has to distinguish them from the lever-action assault weapons.

          1. So Barry is out to ban semi-autos, I guess full-autos are cool. And I’ll turn in my thirty-round clip, but nobody said nothing about my three-hundred round belt. Sweet.

          2. Aren’t there lever actions that have tubular magazines that hold more than ten rounds?

            1. Bill, my Henry lever action .22 holds 17 rounds in it’s tubular mag.

      4. As I’ve understood libertarian thought since the late 1980’s, that should be a clear example of where there’s already an abundance of existing laws covering such matters as trespass, liability, criminal negligence, etc.

        And the academic argument for civilians matching government weapons systems is kind of moot in reality; as we saw at Ruby Ridge and Waco, the government may have had overwhelmingly superior force behind it, but all that firepower was useless against the public relations disasters that resulted. Now, after two decades of telecommunications advancement, it wouldn’t take much government abuse at all to effectively lose the consent of the governed. Who needs a tank when you have a smart phone?

    5. Sam Harris called often calls himself a libertarian. He actually is pro second amendment, and has a couple of good articles about it at his blog.

      But when it comes to government power, he’s rather squishy. Another blog post demanding we pump more money into public schools provoked a huge backlash in the comments section. He took down the blog page, along with all the comments.

      Guys who run in progressive circles think they’re libertarian if they want to legalize pot. Otherwise, they often think central planning and “reasonable” restrictions are just fine.

      1. There’s a lot of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy here. In my experience, self-professed libertarians tend to be minarchists, while some anarchists call themselves libertarians. The minarchists run the gamut from smaller government than we have now to virtually non-existent government, both of which I’m in favor of.

        What we have in the two-party system is two parties that want to take away big bundles of alternating liberties, so anyone that steps out of that false dichotomy and just wants to shrink government at all is an ally of mine.

    6. How many of you fapped to that photo?
      Beee Onnnn-issst.

  2. “All the adherents of the F?hrer must know this: the Reich will be secure only if no foreign military force exists West of the Urals. The iron law must be: none but the Germans shall be permitted to bear arms… only a German has the right to carry a weapon; no Slav, no Czech, no Cossack, no Ukrainian. ”

    Adolf Hitler – 1941
    (as reported at the Nuremburg Tribunals)

    1. But the Nazis didn’t support gun control (except for the Jews) sez Gillespie!

      1. This applies to pundits as much as it does politicians:

        Why Did it Have to be … Guns?
        by L. Neil Smith

        Over the past 30 years, I’ve been paid to write almost two million words, every one of which, sooner or later, came back to the issue of guns and gun-ownership. Naturally, I’ve thought about the issue a lot, and it has always determined the way I vote.

        People accuse me of being a single-issue writer, a single- issue thinker, and a single- issue voter, but it isn’t true. What I’ve chosen, in a world where there’s never enough time and energy, is to focus on the one political issue which most clearly and unmistakably demonstrates what any politician?or political philosophy?is made of, right down to the creamy liquid center.


        1. If he isn’t genuinely enthusiastic about his average constituent stuffing that weapon into a purse or pocket or tucking it under a coat and walking home without asking anybody’s permission, he’s a four-flusher, no matter what he claims.

          What his attitude?toward your ownership and use of weapons?conveys is his real attitude about you. And if he doesn’t trust you, then why in the name of John Moses Browning should you trust him?

          If he doesn’t want you to have the means of defending your life, do you want him in a position to control it?

          If he makes excuses about obeying a law he’s sworn to uphold and defend?the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights?do you want to entrust him with anything?

          If he ignores you, sneers at you, complains about you, or defames you, if he calls you names only he thinks are evil?like “Constitutionalist”?when you insist that he account for himself, hasn’t he betrayed his oath, isn’t he unfit to hold office, and doesn’t he really belong in jail?

          Sure, these are all leading questions. They’re the questions that led me to the issue of guns and gun ownership as the clearest and most unmistakable demonstration of what any given politician?or political philosophy?is really made of.

          1. L Neil Smith just got a new fan. I have been accused of being a single issue voter for exactly this reason, right here on the pages of H&R ( and other places ). I attempted to defend myself, but was not nearly as articulate as Mr. Smith.

            Thank you Killaz for making me aware of Mr. Smith.

            1. L Neil is one of the first libertarians I ever ran across . You should look up his novel, The Probability Broach.

            2. My pleasure.

          2. “then why in the name of John Moses Browning should you trust him?”

            Man, that’s good stuff. John Moses Browning was the Eli Whitney of guns. A Real Genius.

            1. BLASPHEMY! It’s John Moses Browning (PBUH). Do not take The Creator’s name in vain!

      2. Except for persecuted classes, yes.

  3. What is an assault weapon?

    Wow, ya’ll done went and assaulted my intellergence with that question.

    An assault weapon is a gun that is black, has one or more ‘military’ looking features to it, can utilize a magazine of 30, 10 or more , more than 7 , between 5 and 7 , more than 5, more than 3 rounds, scares childins, wimin folk and liberals on site, and can fire a round each time you pull the trigger. Oh, and it’s only purpose is to kill lots of childins.

    There, see, how hard was that?

    1. An assault weapon is the one you want when you walk into the gun store.

    2. No, children think guns are cool. Unless “children” means 26 year old liberal college students, I guess.

      1. I had plastic toy guns back as far as I can remember, until I turned 7 and got a real rifle. But that was back in the days when it was anything but normal to try to emasculate a boy as soon and as completely as possible.

  4. Maybe because they thought they could back their way into a broad gun ban by pushing a half-assed, nonsensical law that was bound to fail.

    Or maybe because they were having a massive collective BAN BONER and they really, really thought Obama was really going to do it (what “it” was, they weren’t really sure) this time…and then he came out with some super weak proposals that will probably go nowhere. So now that he’s fucked them yet again, they’re desperately trying to cast their ideas about to avoid truly recognizing that.

    1. You do know how to recognize the few bright spots Epi. Obama fucking over his supporters is the bright spot.

      1. And the fact that they will let him (and others like him) do it is the dark spot.

        So long as BO etc have this flexibility they’re politically very difficult to defeat.

    2. but epi…. they banned illegal drugs…. and that worked out so well – why dont you trust The Obama? The Obama loves *you*…? just relax, and let him into your heart…and give me the glock…

      1. Don’t be absurd, I would never own a Glock, they’re too ugly.

    3. In many ways he is the best politician right wing kleptocrats could ever possibly hope to buy.

  5. “But we don’t find it too great an imposition on liberty to ban private ownership of military grade weapons. Why not add semiautomatic assault weapons to the list?”

    “We”? Speak for yourself, fuckface. And you call yourself a libertarian…? Asshole.

    1. As you know, no one has ever needed a select-fire rifle or tank for a legitimate purpose.

      That’s why they’re only manufactured for novelty sales rather than for the purpose of defense.

  6. This is a fairly good explanation of the fraudulent “assault weapons” term. Those of you who still do Facebook or who talk to leftist scum should see if any of them will pay attention to it.

    1. Back off, man, I’m an attorney. I’ll explain.

      An assault rifle is a weapon with features such that it projects a reasonable fear of imminent harm. So, for instance, a rifle with a picture of George W. Bush on it is an assault rifle for a leftie.

      A battery rifle is one that is actually touches you in an unwanted manner. Kind of like a rape rifle without the sexual overtones.

      A basalt rifle is a rifle made primarily of basalt.

      Stop me if this is getting too technical.

      1. Can we stop you if it’s getting too retarded?

        1. I can’t help your limited understanding of legal nuance and cozenage.

          A gestalt rifle is a holistic killing machine that shoots every organ in your body at once.

        2. Careful. It’s turtles all the way down.

      2. But what’s a salt rifle? I’m on a low-sodium diet.

        1. We’ll call it a Bloomberg rifle, but only if it comes with a free 32 oz soda.

        2. I’m glad you asked that. Contrary to lay opinion, a salt rifle has nothing to do with table salt. More properly a SALT rifle, it refers to a rifle so scary that the target will immediately disarm.

        3. As a connoisseur of exceptionally bad, cringe-inducing puns, I salute you, sir.

          1. I’m glad to see somebody appreciates my work. Episiarch

          2. A galt rifle is one that fires so slowly that the target can speak for tens of pages before being hit.

          3. A fault weapon is one that assigns blame along with delivering a lethal projectile.

            1. “We all have our little faults. Mine’s in California.”

              1. Do you know why the number two hundred is so vitally descriptive to both you and me, Hugh? It’s your weight and my I.Q.

                1. You were great in your day, Episiarch. But it just stands to reason, when it came time to cash in your chips, this old… diseased… maniac would be your banker.

                  1. There’s a strong streak of good in you, Hugh. But then nobody’s perfect…almost nobody.


            1. And there’s the default weapon, which only fires at people with bad credit.

              1. Wait, so that one will never fire at the Federal Government? Ever?

                1. Yep, it’s a dastardly plot.

      3. Battery rifles? Hmm, samurai had rape knives so doesn’t sound fetched too far to me.

      4. A bath salt rifle is one that makes the target eat someone’s face.

        A peristalsis rifle…. well let’s just say there should be a 10-burrito limit for the magazine for those.

        1. Of course, you’re all familiar with the malt rifle.

      5. Pro Libertate| 1.16.13 @ 7:35PM |#

        Back off, man, I’m an attorney.

        QUICK!! SHOOT IT!! SHOOT IT! They *bite*!! and you turn into ONE OF THEM!! IN THE HEAD – ONLY IN THE HEAD!! Aiiieeeeeee!!

        1. Look, if you want to wallow in ignorance and ignore my sage, and fully billable counsel, well, that’s your problem.

          A Kuralt weapon is one that kills you anecdotally, often in a folksy manner.

      6. What about the hot pink AR-15s with pictures of kitties on them? Are those assault rifles?

        Rape rifles? Do those have a massive dildo where the bayonet would have went?

        1. That’s the ah so weapon, with Hello Kitty on it.

          I’m not a rape law specialist, so, I don’t know, but Warty was pre-rape in college.

          1. Warty’s professor was STEVE SMITH so if he doesn’t know, no one here does.

        2. Not so much a rape rifle, as a sexual assault rifle


    2. Great link, thank you for that.

  7. Better question: what isn’t an assault weapon?

    1. Amen. A fucking baseball bat is technically an “assault weapon.” What a shame that people shitting all over semantics are now running the country.

      1. Like the word ‘epidemic’ used as a metaphor to justify bringing the CDC and tax payer funded leftist studies of the ‘health issue’ into the picture.

  8. Assault Weapon is just a wonderful term for milking the Democrat cash cows, stampeding the rubes and is so sexy bad that the media can’t not use it. What exactly it means, is best left open ended, that way it never gets stale.

    1. We have to pass it to see what’s in it.

      1. Like those frozen burritos they sell at Walmart.

        1. Made with genuine Florida python. Florida python–it’s what’s for dinner.

          1. And what is florida’s problem with python? Strictly typed data, untyped variables, whitespace?

            1. You know, the giant snakes that are proficient in constricting prey and object-oriented programming.

        2. +1.99

    2. They did a good job of injecting that word into the lexicon and reshaping the debates around it. One good reason to fight newspeak where ever it happens.

      I would love a court case overturning a ban on them, then a proposal to re-legalize machine gun registration and watch them try to explain why machine guns are different.

    3. We’ve always been at war with assault weapons.

  9. “What the Hell Is an ‘Assault Weapon’?”
    Whatever Obozo says it is!

  10. The underlying problem is that there is no essential, objectively identifiable “assaultness” that makes these arbitrarily chosen weapons especially threatening

    But, but… they are magical killing machines! The media told us so!

    1. The magical killing machine
      Is coming to kill me today.

      1. Okay, you made me blow beer on my monitor…+1 Doomsday Machine

  11. As has been mentioned before, and to take just one example, the Kentucky Rifle was the assault weapon of its’ day. It enabled rebels to pick off British officers from well beyond the range of their smoothbore muskets. If George the third had won, you can bet those things would have been outlawed.

    1. If George the third had won

      Yeah, but it’s not over. He’s been reincarnated as the mayor of NYC. Bloomberg looks more like a Limey Redcoat than any Limey Redcoat that ever lived. The Blue Bloods have returned for another round.

      1. It’s never over. That’s where we’ve gone wrong.

        1. Yep. That’s what the 2nd amendment is for. Our founders were some smart dudes.

          1. They should’ve said so explicitly: You fucks, being certain to twist this document all out of shape, can do nothing to take arms away from the people.

            1. Jefferson, I believe, has actually been quoted spelling it out in exact words, what it is there for.

              But, yeah, if only our founders could have envisioned just how devious our current politicians are, I think they would have been a lot more explicit.

              Charlatans like Obama, trying to in some way insinuate that it is there for hunting… in better times, he would have been tarred and feathered and hung for treason. The sad thing is, today, the low information voters that make up his voting bloc, don’t have a clue, about much of anything. They just know they want more free stuff.

              1. It amazes me how far we’ve fallen, especially in recent years. Of course, the Second is primarily about keeping the population armed against tyranny. You can’t read ten pages of Founder documents without catching on to their belief in individual rights first and foremost and, to varying degrees, their belief that the people have the right to resist oppression, with violence, if necessary.

                1. the people have the right to resist oppression, with violence, if necessary

                  Sadly, it looks more every day like that is the only option that is left. That or a catastrophic collapse of the economy that leaves the federal government so weak that they have no real power left. Of course, both of those options are far from pretty.

                  1. God, I hope not. It wouldn’t take a huge shift for us to lurch to a more limited government culture, but I think we’d need a shock to the system to get there. And any real crisis is more likely to lead to more oppression (and acceptance of it), not less.

                  2. Could be both. And no, it wouldn’t be pretty.

                2. You can’t read ten pages of Founder documents without catching on to their belief in individual rights first and foremost and, to varying degrees, their belief that the people have the right to resist oppression, with violence, if necessary.

                  I had one teacher in all my years of public indoctrination that I respected. He taught history, and we would frequently argue/debate for the entirety of the class. My views then were proto-libertarian, and I would frequently advocate all measures to resist any sort of oppression. He kept telling me that I’d really like reading Jefferson.

                  I finally relented, and was blown away. I couldn’t believe this guy was one of our stodgy founding father. I felt like I was reading a wild haired revolutionary, and I was. That fact is lost to most of the populace now. I think most would be shocked at the words of the founding fathers; especially what they thought tyranny was, and what tyrants deserved.

                  1. When your foundational principles start with the individual, not the collective, it’s no surprise that unquestioning obedience is not part of your philosophy.

                    Note that today’s “liberals” no longer have a problem with unquestioning obedience, which is consistent with their general rejection of the individual as the core unit of the state.

                    1. Come on, PL, that is really unfair. The modern American left is totally for limited government and self-ownership*.

                      *only includes buttsex and abortions, your results may vary

                    2. It’s really sad how little it took to buy us off.

                3. Yeah, but the Founding Fathers owned slaves thereby nullifying anything wise they ever said or did. At least that’s what the Left tells me.

                  1. Yeah. Of course, that reasoning can be dangerous. The Progressive era included some totally reprehensible ideas about race, for instance. And commies murdered lots of people, if you can believe that.

                4. A single close reading of the Declaration of Independence should make that all perfectly clear.

                  Yet somehow it does not. I can only assume that people of today get lost in the flowery prose and forget, or are never reminded that the document, at it’s heart, says not much more than “this is why we are entering into a fight to the death.”

              2. That’s a little harsh. I’m sure they have a clue about Honey Booboo and and The Real Housewives of Whogivesashitville. You can’t expect them to have time to learn about the innumerable offenses perpetrated by their Dear Leader.

    2. Not a very good analogy. Assault rifles are less accurate and have less range than the battle rifles they replaced or sniper rifles.

  12. If you befriend an ultra-liberal chick and one day show her your carry piece, preferably in seruptitious manner in a public place, she will have your babies….and that wooshing sound is her panties flying out the window.

    1. Back in my single / Marine Reservist days, the liberal chicks would melt when shown a rifle. So dangerous, so forbidden, they couldn’t believe it.

      1. Good to know. Thanks, fellas.

  13. An effective law will focus on one prime feature?the ability to accept a high-capacity magazine.

    A gun that can accept a “high-capacity magazine” (i.e., a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds) is functionally different from a gun that cannot.

    Unless you’re talking about extremely modified designs, a gun that can accept any detachable magazine can accept a high capacity magazine. There has to be some sort of opening for the magazine to go in; the only difference a high-capacity magazine could possibly make is that it would stick further out of the hole than a lower capacity mag.

    You could attempt to make it impossible to accept a high capacity mag by having some sort of lid which had to be snapped shut after inserting the magazine before the gun could fire; or an internal mechanism that prevented more than 10 rounds being fired without changing the magazine. I’m sure either of these would be easy to defeat, though.

    1. If detachable magazines were banned the media and gun-grabbers might actually use the term “clip” correctly when they call for banning them. Stripper clips are just a loophole waiting to happen.

      1. We should reinvent the term ‘stripper clip’ to mean a small easily concealed magazine like something a stripper would carry.

      2. Well, the Feinstein law bans ]10 round internal-mags also.

  14. An easy solution to the banned/not banned dilemma is for citizens to carry whatever police carry. If they’re hired to protect me, I should be able to protect me on the same terms.

    The unconsidered first response is that cops are “trained”, which may be true in a hyper-technical, 5-hour course, kind of way, but non-police (and non-criminals) more likely bear temperaments prone to canine homicide, to shooting frenzies, and to shooting cell-phone carrying minorities. So the training advantage washes out with higher levels of badge-induced aggression and my-safety-first paranoia. That’s my working theory.

    1. Don’t forget that police can’t run away from danger.

      1. Did you miss a couple of Supreme Court decisions down the road? They have no obligation to save your life. What the hell do you think they were doing when they formed a defensive parameter around Columbine?

      2. They can decline to show up. They can “wait for backup”.


        Thanks, Tulip.

      4. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

        They might not actively run, but in hostage situations they wait until everyone inside is dead.

        1. Their optimal position is crouching behind the front wheel of the cruiser, the better to “access the situation” out of range.
          It’s referred to in training as the “Dunphy” position or so I’m told.

      5. And when seconds count, police are just minutes away.

        1. Twenty minutes when ‘the’ children (as opposed to Obama’s children) are involved.

    2. Actually – self-defense guys often recommend using exactly the same ammo as the local or state police where you live. Then you can’t be accused of using cop-killing / armor piercing / etc… if you have to defend yourself.

      1. In many locales the police use loads that are not sold to the civilian populace (the le in Hornadyle dot com stands for law enforcement only.)

  15. I wonder why anyone would think that a ban on “high-capacity” magazines could possibly work. Jeebus, a magazine is just a box with a spring in it. What will they try next, outlawing the possession of springs because they’re “precursors” to high-capacity magazines?

    1. I can’t be the only one who constructed a magazine for one my projects in high school metal shop…though I must admit that was in the olden days before guns became sentient.

      1. Yeah, I had mentioned in an earlier thread that I spent some time helping out in a sheetmetal shop and it can’t be that difficult at all to reproduce one.

    2. “What will they try next, outlawing the possession of springs because they’re “precursors” to high-capacity magazines?”

      Be careful,…in a world where a brillo pad, is a “silencer”, and a piece of string is a machine gun, your imagination is the only limit…

  16. Where is the liberal outrage?

    Where is the liberal outrage? Where is the liberal suspicion about powerful, unchecked governments? Where is the liberal unflinching devotion to individual liberty?

    Bwahahhhaaahhhaaaaa! Oh God, I just choked on my beer reading that paragraph, cough cough…

    1. Mr. Hurt is spot on. Liberals my ass.

      Why just today, here at H&R I learned that Slate admits that the left is a fascist movement. About fucking time.

      1. I can’t remember the exact quote, but I was reading an article a few days ago where someone put it something like this, speaking of so called liberals:

        How did the biggest critics of ‘the man’, turn into his biggest advocates?

        I mean, really, I remember back when I was a kid, some of the hippies in their 20s talking about things. They were all anti-war, pro-freedom, anti-government. They were a lot like libertarians today except for being so pacifist. And most Libertarians are non-interventionist, just not pacifist.

        But the so called liberals of today, are only anti-war when Republicans are in charge, are anti-freedom, pro-government. WTF? What happened to these people? And where did all of these leftist come from?

        1. That changed as soon as they realized that only by their bootheels will their fantasies of a marxist utopia (with them as the Vanguard Philosopher Kings) come true.

        2. Because they are in charge now and the reactionary counterrevolutionaries deserve death. I mean Robespierre opposed capital punishment until he got in charge that is. I’m sure you can find some Communist propaganda that didn’t sound so bad.

          Also the problem with being “non-conformist” and “anti-establishment” is that those terms are relativistic terms. Once you win you become the confirmist reactionary establishment. And opposing that is now bad.

      2. “here at H&R I learned that Slate admits that the left is a fascist movement”

        And they’re all over that 3D Printer technology. Using the dead children of course. Left is getting a lot of milage out of these kids. Maybe someday they’ll let them rest in peace.…..buted.html

  17. The anti-Second Amendment crowd likes to cite US v. Miller as approving the constitutionality of banning “assault weapons.” On the contrary, the court’s actual opinion seems rather clear that “assault weapons” and even more so, military-grade weapons are explicitly protected by the Second:

    In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a “shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length” at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense.

    They were, of course, wrong about a shotgun not being ordinary military equipment, but still the court’s test of whether a weapon was guaranteed protection was whether or not it was ordinary military equipment which could be used by a member of the militia.

  18. HA HA HA Stoopid liberals don’t even know what an assault weapon is!

    Hey kids, did you hear that? They keep saying “assualt weapon” but the rifle in the picture isn’t even a full automatic! Pretty funny, huh kids? Aren’t dumb liberals funny?


    1. Kids….?

      They aren’t answering because they were shot in a gun-free zone earlier today.

      1. “Gun Free Zone” = shooting gallery for criminals.

        1. Yes, if only those 6 and 7 year olds had been carrying!

          This is madness.

  19. A gun that can accept a “high-capacity magazine” (i.e., a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds) is functionally different from a gun that cannot.

    ANY gun that accepts a magazine can accept a “high-capacity” magazine. It’s not a matter of whether a gun can accept a given magazine, but of whether the magazine can be engineered to work correctly. The magazines are where the operation hinges, not the gun.

    My 1911, a gun that come standard with either a 7 or 8 round magazine, can easily be fitted with any number of higher capacity magazines. That doesn’t make it functionally different.

    1. Yeah, I think next time around they’ll just go ahead and ban guns that accept detachable magazines. It’s an incremental process.

      1. No magazines? Belt-fed it is then.

    2. Damn it! I scrolled all the way down and you beat me to it!

  20. ‘Why would they talk about “assault weapons” at all if what they have in mind is a ban on every gun capable of firing more than 10 rounds without reloading? ‘

    Because assault weapons are *scary*. So *scary*. I saw one in a movie and now I wet myself every time I think of it. They ought to be *banned*.

    And Depends adult diapers should be free, too, or your infringing on my privacy rights. How am I supposed to have privacy, with pee running down my leg and off my shoe?

    1. Assault weapons shoot magic bullets that liquify the insides of human beings on contact. I read it on a liberal blog so I know it’s true.

      1. Ever see a liberal pick up a handgun? They do by tip of the handle, like its some fetid bug that might bite them. Which is how to set yourself up to drop it, and shoot yourself in a stupid accident.

        No wonder the fools are scared of the things.

        1. A liberal shooting them self is a good thing. Let arm the liberals.

  21. The issue of magazine size is interesting. What, exactly, do they think will happen if magazine sizes are smaller? That spree killers will have to reload more frequently? OK, then what? The kids and teachers at Sandy Hook will have a better chance at charging the perp? So, then the magazine-banners are recommending charging perps? Well, then shouldn’t the government recommend doing that? Maybe provide some links to some training materials? recommend teach how to charge gunmen while they are reloading in education school? All schools?

    No? Why not?

    I suspect they haven’t thought this through.

    1. I suspect they haven’t thought this through.

      Master of understatement. Yes, in that respect it is exactly like every other policy progressives push.

      For shits and giggles, ask the next tard that you hear proposing about that. Not only do they not think it through, they get actively irate when you try to get them to. He’ll probably just start yelling about dead children.

  22. All you have to do is print a 30 rounder.…..rinted-gun

  23. da gunz u can get likah ar-15 semi auto is pretty much da same as what da guys in iraqs n da afganistans r usin cuz dey dont use da ‘machine gun (it not rilly a machine gun, machine gunz r different in dat wen dey are classified as da machine gun in da squad 2 shoot da bad dudes its a bigger gun, wit a heavier barrel so u kin shewt it 4 longer, and not 2 shewt lots of da bad dudes but 2 keep dere headz down so da dudes with da ar-15 type rifls can manuver on da battlespace) fed wit a belt of 100-250 rnds of da bullits to go pewpewpewpewpewpewpewpewpew!)’ feature.

    Da boyz in da iraqs n afganistanz usually use da semi auto feature on da m4 (basically ah ar-15 dat has partz in it so it can shot 1 or 3 bullits at a time) much more den da select fire on da m4 cuz if u play call of duty 4 modern warefare da best gun iz da dual klobb wield!

    anywayz, da guns we can get r da same basically, please dont ban dem, dey aint 4 huntin and dat claus in da constitution aint 4 huntin. I dont like da liberals, dey got da intellectual hubris n nepotism out da ass.

    send a salami 2 ya boyz in da army.

    1. What kind of inner city crack head writing is this? Get off the XBOX and learn something about the real world.

      Most military shooting is full-auto “surpression fire” , or close-quarters room clearing, full-auto is the way to go.

      Today’s military M16/M4 does mostly run 3 round burst with switching to single shot. This is still what classifies them as an assault rifle, by definition, is a rifle with selective fire (whether it’s selective to full-auto, 2 or 3 round burst, or semi-auto).

      As for the rest, you’re argument fails horribly. These types of guns are used for varmint hunting (coyotes, feral pigs, wolves, deer, moose) in both .223 and .308 (as well as some newer/older calibers being introduced to the AR-platform).

      Even if someone banned all AR’s, the next mass killing would be someone carrying in a bag of 10-round semi-auto handguns or 6-shot revolvers. Same # of bullets fired, same # of casualties, same calls for more gun bans, yet the underlying issue still exists.

      Find and treat the mentally ill and crack down on inner city criminals shooting other inner city criminals and then you’ll see a dramatic drop in all violence, including your feared gun violence.

  24. Silly bans and laws are silly, they are for honest folk.

  25. Holy cow, I heard that King George III has launched a no=knock raid on Tin Thomas’s compound.
    You Nutters should load up and get over there, tout de suite.
    Your precious, precious Second Amendment Right to make up for your dicklessness by buying a Nuclear Warhead is being infringed by a powdered-wig wearing dandy.
    When you’re done, I look forward to reading about your exploits in Guns & Ammo.

  26. 2013 Happy New Year,NFL,NBA,fashion kickoff for u

  27. While government shouldn’t have the power to outlaw the private ownership of any type of weapon or weapons system, a free government would have avenues by which it could largely effectively eliminate the ownership of complex, expensive weapons systems by the general public.

    Manufacturers of such weapons systems are almost totally dependent on government contracts to realize a profit from the development, manufacture and sell of their products. Simply by adopting policies prohibiting the government from signing contracts with a manufacturer that sold such weapons to private concerns, government could effectively eliminate the possibility of complex, expensive weapons winding up in the hands of private individuals. If a manufacturer could find a way to make money by selling such weapons only to non-governmental customers, some may end up in the hands of private citizens, but that is, in reality, highly unlikely.

    Even if government prohibited itself from contracting with weapons manufacturers that sold “assault” rifles to the public, private demand would likely make their sale profitable enough to allow for some companies to satisfy the demand without any reliance on government contracts.

    This avenue may not keep all military grade weapons off the private market or give private individuals access to every type of weapon produced, but it would not violate the rights of any individual or group.

  28. I believe there is a logical line to draw somewhere between home and personal weapons of defense, that civilians should be allowed access to and those that should be limited to the military. I shouldn’t be able to own a drone with full missile strike ability. why do some reasonable persons think and believe then need higher level weapons that are concealed carry type or home defense. I don’t think anyone is discussing the psychology of why some Americans fight so hard for higher level weapons. Fear of what? Criminals and Police? will the Ban be similarly applied to CIVILIAN policing agencies? or will the police continue to expand their arsenals? when will the war on drugs be stopped to start getting people to calm down on their own accord and not feel they need to be armed against the govt? I like this story about it…..olice2.htm

  29. “Now we are getting somewhere. A gun that can accept a “high-capacity magazine” (i.e., a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds) is functionally different from a gun that cannot.”

    Then gun manufacturers would just make a gun that accepted 9 rounds instead of 10. What then?

  30. Oh, you poor emotionally driven drivelers. You see one ban on something and you immediately jump on the ‘slippery slope’ argument. You’re like conservative Christians who see the sip of a glass of wine as the first step on the road to heroin. Do you really need automatic weapons? No. To hunt? No. Please, if you wish to subscribe and write to a magazine with the moniker of Reason, then use yours. I’m a gun owner and a believer in the Second Amendment. When the amendment was writen we used flintlock weapons to hunt and for protection. I don’t understand where that gives a civilian the right to own a weapon manufactured for military use. Yes, we as men like things that go boom and supposedly extend our sense of ‘manhood’ by doing big loud things. And when you grow up to be an adult you learn that those things are for boys, not men. You want to fire an automatic weapon, join the military. You want to hunt and protect your property and family, get a weapon that requires gun control. A steady hand.

    1. I HIGHLY DOUBT you are a gun owner given your lack of understanding of one of the most owned gun types in the US. Also, your argument sounds like every other “anti-gun activist” with little facts and lots of anger and hatred.

      The AR (stands for the Armalite Rifle, the original designer and manufacturer) is a semi-auto only gun that civilians are permitted to own. It is not an “automatic weapon” like is available to our US military.

      AR’s are not a weapon manufactured for military use, those are M16’s and M4’s (among others), whose “selective fire” is what defines them as assault rifles. These are not generally found in the civilian population because they cost $10,000’s to buy one, some states outright ban them.

      This proposed ban is about banning semi-auto rifles with higher capacity magazines.

      2nd amendment allowed for all civilians to own the same firearms the military and government used at that time. Not saying the same should hold true today (don’t need my neighbor with a grenade launcher or a SMAW for protecting my backyard), but the 2nd Amendment was meant to have a civilian militia be on equal footing with any enemy attempting to attack our state or our country.

      That said, many an AR-platform has been used for hunting, property protection from varmints, and home defense.

  31. This ban failed for 10 years, and they are going at it again? According to recent “self defense” news articles, it takes 4 or 5 shots to stop a single non-drugged up attacker, even then they seem to still be able to get up and get away under their own power. Does a 10 or 7 cap limit make sense if there are multiple attackers or a pack of wild animals trying to attack your livestock or children when 4 or 5 “hits” is required for just 1 individual?

    Even if you get rid of everything over 10 round capacity, that isn’t going to stop someone from taking a gun into a mass shooting situation. They’ll just carry multiple mags like they always do, and worse yet (worse in that it’s more efficient) they’ll just take multiple guns in a bag or body rig with holsters and go on a mass shooting that way. Then they are just shooting until empty, drop and grab another gun and continue shooting (faster than reloading).

    The #1 school shooting is still VT, and he used a .22LR and 9mm handguns, not a 30+ round AR or AK variant (the so called “assault weapons”).

    Fix the problem, get better at identifying and treating the mentally ill, and crack down on existing laws for those inner city gangs using their illegal guns to do most of the gun violence in this country. Out of millions of guns and gun owners, we shouldn’t be punished because these minor few misused them and caused 8,600 gun murders and 650 accidental deaths in 2011.

  32. Assault weapons are like porn. You know one when you see it.

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