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The Ever-Shifting Definition of "Assault Weapons"

The phrase has been used to promote bans on almost every type of gun.

What is an "assault weapon"? That was the question I addressed in a short article for the The Regulatory Review, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The Regulatory Review publishes short articles--about a thousand words--on a wide range of regulatory issues. In November, The Regulatory Review produced a nine-article series, Bringing Expertise to the Gun Debate.

My contribution was Defining "Assault Weapons". Surveying various "assault weapon" laws and bills, the article describes the always-shifting definitions. According to gun ban advocates, "assault weapons" have been claimed to include: air guns and paintball guns; most handguns; all semiautomatic rifles; most shotguns; all slide action shotguns; any semiautomatic the Secretary of Treasury wants to ban; guns listed by name; and guns with certain features, such as adjustable stocks.

The very heterogeneous group of so-called "assault weapons" has only two things in common. First of all, none of them are automatics or machine guns. Gun prohibition advocates have very effectively created and then exploited public confusion on this point. Second, none of the guns are "assault rifles," as that term has been defined by experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency. An actual assault rifle is capable of selective fire, meaning that it can fire automatically or semi-automatically with the flip of a selector switch; examples include the U.S. Army M-16, the Soviet AK-47, and the German Sturmgewehr.

In short, "Assault weapon" is just an epithet to stigmatize the largest possible number of guns and gun owners—the breadth of the definition of the moment depending on the politics of the moment.

The other articles from the Penn symposium are by Anthony Braga & Philip Cook (guns are more likely than other weapons to cause a fatality when used in a criminal attack); Robert Spitzer (the 1934 National Firearms Act is a good model for gun laws; the BATFE is underfunded and persecuted); James Jacobs (private sales of firearms should be outlawed); Joseph Blocher and Darrell A.H. Miller (scholars should contribute more to knowledge about gun policy); Jennifer Doleac (there are many effective means other than gun control to reduce gun deaths), David Abrams (data driven policy should impose heavy taxes on some guns and ammunition); Philip Cook & Jens Ludwig (gun misuse causes much economic harm); and Amanda LeSavage (the Consumer Product Safety Commission should be authorized require warning labels saying that guns make households less safe).

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  • Rat on a train||

    Assault Weapon: any item used, or potentially used, to physically threaten or attack a person
    Such as an alligator or concrete dildo.

  • Seamus||

    Don't forget fresh fruit, or pointed sticks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piWCBOsJr-w

  • LiborCon||

    Every gun control argument that requires more than two words has been refuted.

  • WJack||

    No need for fear . . . the gun control advocates simply want to have power over the American people.

  • mad_kalak||

    I think that a fair amount actually want to "save the children" or some such. Yes, most of them want their ideological enemies disarmed, but think of your average low information beta male or wine mom. Gun control organization tell them their efforts are about saving the kids or some such, and they believe it.

  • Grumbler||

    You know what Chairman Mao said..."Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun."

  • KevinP||

    So 6 out of 9 articles push gun control.

  • arch1||

    I hope you didn't count the paper advocating scholarly involvement as one of those which pushes gun control.

  • Grumbler||

    "Scholarly" I don't think that term means what you think it means.

  • KevinP||

    I did not.

  • DjDiverDan||

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission should be authorized to require a warning label on academic journals: "Warning: Reading Pro-Gun Control Articles has been shown to reduce one's ability to think rationally."

  • David Welker||

    An "assault weapon" is any gun that Democrats haven't managed to ban yet. That is the "real" definition.

    Or how about this. Any weapon that can be used to commit an assault? So, you know. Sticks, stones, fists, stuff like that.

    I recall that the political rhetoric used to refer to "assault rifles." We might also start by noting that the rhetorical shift from "assault rifles" to "assault weapons" and ask whether this rhetorical shift has resulted in a broader or narrower set of rhetorical targets?

  • Morbo||

    Or how about this. Any weapon that can be used to commit an assault? So, you know. Sticks, stones, fists, stuff like that.

    Heh. Ironically, Sticks, stones, fists, and other blunt objects account for far more murders per year than all rifles and shotguns, let alone so-called assault weapons, which are usually classified as a subset of rifles and shotguns.

  • Jimmy the Dane||

    I love getting into a gun control argument with a liberal who has never shot a gun and thinks that you can buy a machine gun at your local Walmart. Anti-gunners are delusional and I think suffer from some type of mental illness. I talked with one guy who told me that my Glock 19 was fully automatic because it was fed by a magazine. What an idiot.

    "Assault weapon" is just a polarizing political term that is really just a non-word as it has such a shifting definition that is has no real meaning. When some stupid lib starts going off on "assault weapons" I refuse to even acknowledge that word because it has absolutely no meaning whatsoever. To me they might as well say "blah blah blah".

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its unconstitutional to prevent people from buying machine guns.

    That argument just sends Lefties into a tailspin because there are still people who are not onboard with some gun control.

  • ||

    Their response to that is that the Constitution only means what Ruth Bader Ginsburg says it means.

  • Joe_dallas||

    Their response to that is that the Constitution only means what Ruth Bader Ginsburg says it means.

    More precisely - How Ginsburg thinks the law should have been written
    See her dissents in
    Goodyear,
    el cino motors
    concurring in the ACA case

  • Sigivald||

    Arguably the Hughes Amendment is unconstitutional, as it makes buying a machinegun eventually impossible, and prohibitively expensive.

    I would not hold my breath on either the Courts or scholarship in general saying that the NFA's check-and-tax scheme for machineguns is unconstitutional.

    (A stronger argument in 1928, when $200 was prohibitively expensive. These days it's just ... not a really serious barrier.)

    (I'd love to see the NFA repealed; I think it's stupid and bad policy - I'm just not remotely sure it's patently unconstitutional.

    And again, "shall not be infringed" is not an argument-ender - it's nearly question-begging, since it simply assumes that the thing being declaimed is infringement, rather than establishing that it is.

    The latter being hard, since infringement is ill-defined.)

  • Brett Bellmore||

    The problem is the Hughs amendment, of course, the tax the NFA imposed has been rendered relatively meaningless by inflation.

  • Naaman Brown||

    In 1934 $200 would buy a new Thompson. $400 would buy a new car.
    It was a sin tax like the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act which was sin taxed to the point most folks consider it what it was: defacto prohibition.

    Bonnie and Clyde used BARs stolen from National Guard Armories.
    John Dillinger used tommy guns stolen from police stations.
    Ma Barker & Sons bought stolen Army machineguns from fences.
    Machinegun Kelly's wife did buy a tommy gun from a hardware store.

    I don't think the 1934 NFA creation of the registry or the 1986 Hughes freeze on the registry accomplished much except making fools feel safe.

  • ||

    If $200 is not a serious barrier, than requiring Shaniqua and Rosa to have a $5 photo ID to vote for food stamps for their illegitimate children surely isn't either.

  • mad_kalak||

    The technical term that leftist use now is "gunsplaining", which is when you use your superior knowledge of guns to demolish a gun control argument by pointing out the inanity of their policy proposals, like banning "hi velocity bullets" or something. Here's a sh*tty article about in at the Washington Compost:

    I think it has happened to most of us on the pro-2nd Amd. side of the debate.

  • Jimmy the Dane||

    I bet you that omega male author spends his nights getting pegged by his wife.

  • Naaman Brown||

    Washington has declared a semiautomatic assault rifle to be any rifle that is not a manually fed single shot, or a bolt-action, lever-actiom, or pump-action repeater. Including .22 sporting semi-autos like the Ruger 1022. Marlin 60, Mossberg 702.

  • Bill R||

    There's a good and simple summary at http://www.assaultweapon.info/

  • FlameCCT||

    Excellent summary!

    Simply put, assault weapons are defined by their cosmetic appearance.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Josh Sugarmann, founder of the Violence Policy center:

    "Assault 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."

    The term was actually adopted BECAUSE it was misleading.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Assault weapon: Any weapon you assault someone with. Hey, if I hit you in the face with a feather pillow, that feather pillow is a assault weapon! That is why you cannot define assault weapon in a law. Better definition would be "scary looking gun". Because the only difference in these semi-automatics they are trying to ban is the look.

  • Doug Huffman||

    Gun control is an eristic argument.

    https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/eristic#English

  • Krayt||

    Reminds me of, in freshman English, learning about the dialectical method of writing: thesis, antithesis, synthesis, and predicting counter-arguments and pre-responding to them.

    It had nothing to do with the truth but rather proving, so to speak, your point. It seemed disturbingly immoral to me at the time.

  • mad_kalak||

    This is why some philosophers hated the sophists in ancient Greece. They learned and taught rhetoric, logic, analytical arguments, and then used it to advance causes that had nothing to do with the higher good, or logos.

  • HMI||

    Not just the philosophers; also playwrights like Aristophanes. And it didn't have so much to do with particular causes advanced as the perception that they taught their students how to make good arguments sound bad and bad arguments sound good, in order that they might successfully prosecute and defend in court.
    Remind you of the image of any contemporary profession?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Since all gun control is an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment, worrying about what "assault weapon" means is nothing but academic definition wrangling.

  • Mike45||

    The tenth amendment reinforces "the people" as individuals, and further tells states that they have no authority to regulate rights of the people.

    The tenth amendment:
    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, OR to the people."

  • Sigivald||

    Is banning prisoners from having arms an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment?

    If not, why not?

    (I'm serious - quoting the Second Amendment is not an argument, and "all gun control is unconstitutional" will never convince a court, or even me, and I think 7-11 should be able to sell machine pistols to any adult, and I like to remind people it's just as legal now as it was in 1789 to own your own cannons ["totally", at least Federally, and in most states].

    Because I'm ... 100% sure the Second Amendment lets the State disarm prisoners, despite them being part of "the people", and also lets it do things like disallow minors from buying guns, or at least some felons [the violent ones, for a period of time, if not indefinitely].

    The core problem is "infringement" is not a well defined term.

    Pretending it is that that it's a Slam Dunk Automatic Win is not a serious position, and will never convince anyone or any court ever, is the problem.

    Needing to convince the courts - and people - is actually super important here.)

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Is banning prisoners from having arms an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment?

    If not, why not?"

    If it's not, dismembering prisoners would be a violation of the 8th. :)

  • Harvey Mosley||

    If putting someone in prison is Constitutional then banning prisoners from having guns would fall under the necessary and proper clause.

    Now banning guns from those who have served their sentences and are once again free is unconstitutional. Besides if they are too dangerous to own a gun they are too dangerous to be free.

  • susancol||

    "Is banning prisoners from having arms an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment? If not, why not?"

    Did you miss learning about "lawful imprisonment" and its effect on a number of civil rights, such as, say, free association?

    As for disarming minors, that is a product of our insane prolongation of infanthood for minors. Until the late 1960s, anyone (minor or adult) could purchase a firearm by mail. We have home movies of my dad biking down his 1940's suburban street with a shotgun slung across his handlebars, heading off to play in the woods several miles outside of town. Somehow neither he nor his friends injured themselves or others. My husband's childhood in the '60s involved he and his friends owning and shooting .22 pistols and a variety of rifles and shotguns, again with no injuries or even scares. Nowadays folks freak out if a child chews a poptart into the shape of a gun--because children are believed to be so immature that a poptart in the wrong shape portends actual violence in the future?? In other words, our society has *manufactured* a "rational basis" for taking rights away, even if the minor is emancipated and otherwise behaving as a lawful adult.

  • ||

    It's not an infringement for the same reason that depriving them of their right to travel, speak freely, or not be subject to arbitrary search & so on is not a violation of the 1st, 4th & 5th....

    Because prisoners have had their rights curtailed by due process of law (either pretrial detention, or post conviction incarceration).

    The same applies to the lifetime ban on felons owning guns.

  • ||

    Expecting liberals to be intellectually honest is like expecting sub-Saharan Africans to create a civilized society.

  • mad_kalak||

    This line of argumentation is not very persuasive because most won't make the connection, and is actually a turn off for most people, even those ostensibly on (y)our side.

  • ||

    True, but I'm at the point where I think you must be a racial realist to be a conservative.

  • mad_kalak||

    Why?

  • ||

    Because if you (falsely) believe that all races are as equally capable as whites and East Asians are, you'll oppose immigration restrictions based on race and you'll eventually cave in to racial preferences.

  • Absaroka||

    "you'll oppose immigration restrictions based on race"

    So, given a Congolese physician with an IQ of 120, and an Irish dishwasher with an IQ of 80, you propose letting the Irish guy in, but not the Congolese? That's pretty stupid.

    The variance within races/nationalities/etc dwarfs any difference between the means of the populations. That's tecnho-babble for 'treating people as members of groups rather than individuals' is stupid in addition to immoral.

  • mad_kalak||

    ARWP made a case to be a race realist for immigration, not to be a conservative.

    Absoroka, our lottery system with chain migration means we get more immigration from non-functioning countries than functioning countries. Which, if we are talking averages, is, non average, not good for America. Would you think it immoral to discriminate via national origin?

  • mad_kalak||

    Whoops, mean to say "if we are talking averages, is *on average* not good for America."

  • James Pollock||

    "our lottery system with chain migration means we get more immigration from non-functioning countries than functioning countries."

    We get the people most motivated to come here for new opportunities, regardless of where they are coming from. This is, on average, VERY good for America.

  • mad_kalak||

    Citation please. And even if what you say is true, we are also doing a disservice to those countries, who need their best and brightest to bring their countries to a higher standard of living.

    As an aside, this off topic comment thread is exactly why ARWP's comment was unhelpful.

  • James Pollock||

    "Citation please."

    People who are happy where they are don't emigrate. Too much common sense for you?

    People who want to emigrate to, say, Syria don't get off the plane in St. Louis and say "eh, close enough".

    In other "news", people who show up at the Bloodmobile are the ones most motivated to donate blood.

    "we are also doing a disservice to those countries, who need their best and brightest to bring their countries to a higher standard of living."

    If I have to pick between better standard of living here and better standard of living there, I choose here. You're welcome to pop over there and help 'em out, if you want.

    " this off topic comment thread is exactly why ARWP's comment was unhelpful."

    Trolls troll, and whining about it solves nothing.

  • mad_kalak||

    Here are a few facts for you then:

    Illegal Immigrants Cost U.S. Taxpayers $338.3 Billion a Year

    The majority of immigrants using welfare come from Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The use of welfare is lower for immigrants from East Asia (32%), Europe (26%) and South Asia (17%).

    About 51% of immigrant-led households receive at least one kind of welfare benefit, including Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance, compared to 30% for native-led households.

    There were 68.57 illegal aliens imprisoned for every 100,000 illegals in Arizona, compared to 54.06 citizens and legal noncitizens imprisoned for every 100,000 citizens and legal noncitizens. There are similar, or worse, numbers for states where this has been tracked.

    And really, if 3rd world countries always stay 3rd world countries because the West takes their best and brightest (debatable!) than there will always be more supply than demand for immigration. Is that common sense enough?

  • James Pollock||

    "Illegal Immigrants Cost U.S. Taxpayers $338.3 Billion a Year"

    Oh, we're resolving this debate by making up numbers?

    "There were 68.57 illegal aliens imprisoned for every 100,000 illegals in Arizona"

    So, there were 999,941 totally innocent illegals out of every 100,000?

    " if 3rd world countries always stay 3rd world countries because the West takes their best and brightest (debatable!)"

    If you don't believe this, why did you bring it up?

  • ||

    No. But the average Congolese is borderline retarded by white standards, and our system doesn't screen for IQ.

  • James Pollock||

    Sure, sure, and the average white-wing patriot is retarded by anyone's standards. But we let them stay, because it's cute the way they whine about the universe not conforming to their imagined preferences.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Sure, sure, and the average white-wing patriot is retarded by anyone's standards.

    So, three times as intelligent as you?

  • James Pollock||

    You're doing the math backwards, idiot. The correct answer is 1/3, not 3.

  • ||

    If you consider race to be bullshit, then racial preferences are also bullshit.

    Immigration regulation should be based on financial means & job skills.

  • James Pollock||

    "Immigration regulation should be based on financial means & job skills."

    Among other things.

  • James Pollock||

    "Expecting liberals to be intellectually honest is like expecting sub-Saharan Africans to create a civilized society."

    Not noticing that sub-Saharan African produced a number of civilized societies is like ARWP saying something racist but trying to pretend that there's a rational reason for it.

  • ||

    Throwing spears and grunting at each other doesn't constitute a civilized society.

  • James Pollock||

    Yes, yes, we already KNOW you're a racist, no need to hammer home the point.

  • ||

    Wah wah wah racist

  • Jimmy the Dane||

    You know you have lost an argument when you have to start calling the other guy a "racist".

  • James Pollock||

    If being called a racist bothers you, don't do and say racist things.

  • FlameCCT||

    You forgot the third commonality of assault weapon; they are all based on the cosmetic appearance of the firearm(s).

  • ||

    Not even true anymore. Many liberals define any gun that can fire many bullets rapidly as an assault weapon, in other words, any magazine loaded semi-auto

  • James Pollock||

    Oh, noes! The scary liberals called your gun an "assault weapon"!

    So what? In what (real) way did this affect you?

  • ||

    Not at all, because I'm not turning mine in, even if leftists manage to make them illegal.

  • James Pollock||

    So, basically, you're crying over nothing?

    You won't mind if I ignore your whining henceforth, since we now agree it's worthless?

  • ||

    Are you autistic?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Shitlib James Pollock calling the rhetoric of his own side "worthless" was the best part of this subthread.

  • ||

    He's a revolting piece of garbage.

  • James Pollock||

    Hmm. My "side" is that responsible adults should be able to have whatever weapons they want.

    You're imagining that I've labeled this argument worthless and, are amused by this?

    Whatever, dude.

  • Harvey Mosley||

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov /faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1135 (eliminate the space after "gov")

    This is how it has affected me.

  • James Pollock||

    So... you had to read a couple of pages of boring legalese?

    Without knowing your specific situation, it's hard to tell how this particular bill would affect you.

    I did, however, notice that it specifically exempts people who already had their weapon when the law was enacted.

    So, the net result of the bad, bad liberals calling your weapon an "assault weapon" is... you had to send the state government somewhere between $0 and $20 to register your weapon(s).

  • ||

    When a woman has to wait 24 hours to kill her baby, that's an undue burden on her. When Shaniqua needs a $5 photo ID to vote for food stamps for her illegitimate crotch droppings, that's an outrage.

    Why the selectivity?

  • James Pollock||

    Your question is, why don't I support all the positions you'd like to imagine I support?

    Um... I don't know?

  • grb||

    Exactly. This very simple point was first made back in the days of President Clinton, when we first debated this. Fundamentally, assault weapons function no differently than any other semi-automatic rifle. It's only the military cosmetics which makes them so popular with gun nuts and mass murderers. All of which suggests a simple solution to the issue : We all understand the appeal of playing GI Joe (though, personally, it got to be a bit much after six years). We all remember the fun of running through the backyard with one of those plastic guns which make rat-ta-tat sounds when you pull the trigger. So why not welcome the sale of all assault weapons, but in hollow plastic? That way, everybody wins. People get to play soldier, but the toys are much less dangerous in the hands of deranged killers.

    Sometimes the simple solutions are the best, eh?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Sometimes the simplest solutions are based on false assumptions. "assault weapons" aren't popular with people because of the military cosmetics. They're popular because guns are just machines for throwing bullets fast and accurately, and aside from features like bayonets, there really isn't any specifically military feature about them; They're built the way they are for utility. "Flash hiders" keep the muzzle flash from blinding you in low light levels, barrel shrouds give you something to grab that doesn't get hot after shooting several times, plastic doesn't get effected by humidity, and black plastic is more resistant to UV...

    Military guns are the ultimate in functional design, and who doesn't like something that's functional?

  • Naaman Brown||

    Military guns are designed to be maintained by the user, interchangeable parts (not hand fitted which requires expert gunsmithing for routine repairs), robust to withstand long use.

  • ||

    Right, and the idea that mass shooters won't switch to models with those evil features removed it asinine.

  • Bruce Hayden||

    A couple more things.
    - A pistol grip makes a long gun easier to control. We see this ergonomic In such items as hand tools.
    - Adjustable stocks makes a firearm usable across a range of shooters. Theoretically, you can get a gun when you are young, and it can grow with you as you grow.
    - The AR-15 configuration drops the muzzle axis almost level with a shooter's shoulder, significantly reducing muzzle rise (the higher the muzzle axis, in relation to the fulcrum, the more that the horizontal movement of the firearm in response to shooting a bullet is translated into upward muzzle rotation). Reducing muzzle rise reduces the time it takes to make follow up shots.
    - The modularity of these firearms makes tinkering with them easy, thus facilitating the sort of hobbyist who customized cars, then computers in an earlier time. Pretty much everything can be modified, much of it fairly easily, including caliber (.17 to .50 BMG), stocks, barrels, optics, fore grips, bipods, lasers, flashlights, etc. The more recent attachment mechanisms allow the latter items to be added, removed, or replaced in seconds, as contrasted to the minute or two with standard rails.

  • Bruce Hayden||

    The reality is that those ugly guns, most often called Assault Weapons, have incorporated 60 or more years of improvements over the traditional rifles and shotguns that would be left if these were banned. Worse, if they tried to ban semiautomatic firearms, which are over a century old. Imagine limiting everyone to 60 year old computer technology. Or even 60 year old automotive technology. And that is what they want to do.

  • Sigivald||

    "Mass-murderers care more about cosmetics than effectively killing people" doesn't seem to be so.

    (Maybe they chose AR-15s lately both because it's the most popular rifle in America, and because the media keeps telling them that ARs are Super Deadly Murder Machines?

    But, no, it's gotta be Because Playing Soljer.)

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Mass-murderers care more about cosmetics than effectively killing people" doesn't seem to be so."

    I'm not so sure. If they were really interested in maximizing body count and knew what they were doing, they'd leave the ARs and the hand guns and bring shotguns to a target rich environment at close quarters.

  • grb||

    Faux "tactical gear" also seems a fetish item in a lot of these cases.......

  • James Pollock||

    " If they were really interested in maximizing body count and knew what they were doing, they'd leave the ARs and the hand guns and bring shotguns to a target rich environment at close quarters."

    Some mass shootings are really just elaborate incidents of suicide by cop, and some are just elaborate incidents of suicide, straight up. This is not a state of mind commonly associated with high degrees of rationality. I mean, the single largest mass killing in this country didn't even involve one firearm, but did show lots of careful planning. The real mass killer we should be worried about is one who has the time to earn a PhD, and go into medical research.

  • Harvey Mosley||

    Is that also why cops use them?

  • Sigivald||

    IIRC, thanks to the last election, in Washington state, a tube-fed .22 rifle is an "assault rifle" if it reloads automatically after firing.

    Because, you know, super dangerous. Because shut up, peons.

  • rjhorn||

    Another useful and internationally known reference is the Small Arms Survey. They provide extensive terminology definitions in http://www.smallarmssurvey.org.....dbook.html

  • mad_kalak||

    Here we are having a conversation about guns, and there's none of that Hiln guy to ruin it. What's up with that?

  • James Pollock||

    Arguing over the definition of "assault weapons" is a total waste of time.

    The things that ARE worth arguing about are A) what conditions or qualities a person may exhibit are, or should be, a justification for infringing their rights to possess the weapon(s) of their choice, and B) what limitations, if any, should be in place to keep people who have whatever weapons from giving/loaning/selling/etc. those weapons to people who have been properly adjudged to have restricted rights.

    Once the answers to those questions come into focus, it might become worthwhile to start dividing different weapons into different classes with slightly different rules attached to each.

  • ||

    Except the left never proposes this. Ever.

  • James Pollock||

    Ignored per our previous agreement.

  • ||

    Blah blah blah

  • James Pollock||

    Exactly. Why don't you just write this in the first place? It means the same thing, and wastes fewer perfectly good electrons to transmit.

  • BILKER||

    c'mon Pollock the democrat cabals are dropping all convictions for thousands of felons, nearly all are some kind of protected minority. They are releasing them back into society, giving them the right to vote, buy firearms and live among law abiding citizens that have been disarmed by the seditious gungrabbing triatorus democrat cabals headed by the turn coat elected criminals from Kalifornexico .

  • Longtobefree||

    Assault weapons are whatever the socialists think they can get away with banning next.

  • ||

    Basically. Molon labe.

  • James Pollock||

    The socialists invented the most popular assault rifle in the world.

  • ||

    So now you're taking credit for Kalashnikov as one of you?

  • James Pollock||

    Kalashnikov was a socialist. There is only one of me.

  • Purple Martin||

    As a thought exercise (because it's not something I'm obsessive about either way), it seems fairly simple to define the term "Assault Weapon" (or Assault Rifle) as it's used in 2nd Amendment debates during the early years of the 21st Century in the United States of America.

    "Assault Rifle" is a term accurately used to describe a long gun (as opposed to a handgun) designed to trade off attributes most useful for accurately hitting small, single, static targets at medium to long range; in favor of attributes designed to improve the ability to shoot multiple, moving, human-sized targets at short to medium range; while also providing minimum hinderance to short-distance personal mobility.

    Attributes minimized include:

    — longer barrel length/greater mass; greater overall weapon weight
    — greater projectile mass; higher power
    — higher rate of fire
    — greater receiver mass/strength;
    — static grip support;
    — telescopic sights;

    Attributes maximized include:

    — shorter, lighter barrel (for faster weapon swing, and personal mobility);
    — open sights (optionally including wide-field 'open-eyes' optical assist);
    — lighter overall weight (including stock, receiver and cartridges);
    — grips assisting rapid weapon movement (pistol grip or other);
    — high fire rate (semi-automatic or assisted-fire);
    — large capacity (smaller cartridge/larger magazine)
    — rapid reloading features
    — heat dissipation or shielding features (barrel guards or fins)

  • Purple Martin||

    (continued)

    An additional characteristic of the 'modern sporting rifle' (the preferred term of manufacturers) is that they are increasingly being deliberately designed to look scary and threatening...designed to look like the weapon is meant to take people's lives in the most violent way possible. Usually this takes the form of sharp angles, unnecessary molded plastic cladding, and stark cut-away stocks. In fact, one trend is to base the look of these weapons on futuristic designs used in current video games.

    One more observation may be made about assault weapons—at least as as defined above, they are commonly purchased by people who feel compelled to buy threatening items, who feel a need to be perceived by other people as threatening and dangerous. Continuing the thought exercise, the desire to own this "assault rifle" might well be a good way to identify people who should not be allowed to legally own a gun—an action which could well pass the Heller test as as a Constitutionally-permitted arms restriction.

  • MaverickNH||

    Reverse engineering rifles from video games? Now you're getting silly How about manufacturers looking to avoid others' patented designs? Designing rifles to look scary and threatening reflects the perceptions of those who are scared and threatened by the existence of guns. Teachers who couldn't teach in a school where there are guns manage to walk about in public where concealed carry holders abound. Perhaps they live in fear?

    And I love the arguement that those who would buy a gun, by that admission, are unfit to buy a gun. Only those who abhor guns and would never buy one have the mental qualities to buy a gun.

  • James Pollock||

    "And I love the arguement that those who would buy a gun, by that admission, are unfit to buy a gun."

    Too bad nobody will cooperate and offer that particular argument.

  • BLPoG||

    I'm pretty sure that's what Purple Martin does is the next top level comment.

  • Absaroka||

    That's mostly sheer fantasy.

    When your theory predicts that mass shootings will be 'better' if Garands substitute for AR-15's ... recheck your theory.

  • ||

    Ahh, yes, so anyone who desires to own a gun is unfit to own one. Perfectly logical!

  • Longtobefree||

    Followed by "People who want to register as anything but Democrats are unfit to vote"

  • Purple Martin||

    To complete the thought exercise, the desire to own this "assault rifle" might well be an accurate way to identify people who should not be allowed to legally own a gun—an action which could well pass the Heller test as as a Constitutionally-permitted arms restriction.

    Personally I think the assault weapon ban (under Heller, already found not necessarily to be in violation of the Constitution) is a better idea then registering and tracking these threatening people. That second idea might more easily pass Congress though.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "(under Heller, already found not necessarily to be in violation of the Constitution)"

    You're ignoring the "in common use" language of the Heller decision. These so-called "assault weapons" are unambiguously in common use.

    I'm not at all happy about the decision's treatment of this factor, in that it fails to acknowledge that what arms are "in common use" has been distorted by the 68 years during which the Court was refusing to uphold the 2nd amendment, and all the laws that accumulated during that time. And that prior to this period, civilian and military arms closely tracked each other.

    But even Heller's limited holding prohibits banning a class of arms which is commonly owned and used for legal purposes, and so-called "assault weapons" absolutely meet this standard, being about the most common form of rifle.

  • ||

    And this notwithstanding, you can't make a serious argument that passes even rational basis scrutiny that banning these "assault weapons" but allowing the same exact rifle if the stock is pinned, the bayonet lug removed, and the flash suppressor replaced with a muzzle brake is constitutional.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Remember the only way to enforce gun control is with (government) guns.

  • BILKER||

    The worst things about the fienstien-harris-pelosi-newsome seditious cabal is that they all are in violation of their oath of office. To up hold and protect the Constitution of the United States is part of that oath. This is bordering on traitorous activity. Fienstien and her fellow travelers (read Democrats) should be tried and convicted for these acts. In addition they all support an invasion by ILLEGAL ALIENS from south of the border , which also violates their sworn oaths. We need to remove these socialist progressives from office, they are giving the United States away.

  • BILKER||

    One other thing that the traitorous democrats do is to keep these gungrabbing attempts in the headlines to disguise what they are doing behind the scenes. Fienstien and her merry band of outlaws have begun to take open land away from public use by adding 1000s of acres of BLM and public lands to national parks and monuments and marking many of these public lands as wilderness areas making it illegal to use them for anything. Newsome the gov wants to pass a 50 billion dollar tax on Kalifornexicos population to enable the education establishment to begin indoctrinating 3,4,5 and 6 year olds in preschool. These actions don't get publisized because of the misdirection of the Democrat cabal. why else do you think they let people like talhib and Ocasio-cotex hold any office.

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