I have been listening intently the past two weeks in the ever increasing intense debate between the right to keep and bare arms, and the desire of many for more “gun control”. I heard Senator Feinstein yesterday speak of the need to ban “assault weapons”. I often hear of the AR 15 (and similar firearms) called “assault rifles”. Ugh. I am really tired of this obvious falsification of simple facts, and I doubt many people will change their mind, but here are a few simple facts about “assault weapons” and “assault rifles”.
First of all, tell me what an “assault weapon” is. Almost anything can be used as a weapon with which to assault someone: a box truck to run over people in Nice France or London, knives to stab dozens of people in China, or box cutters and passenger planes to fly into office buildings in America. All these things are assault weapons. But it would be silly to ban trucks, knives, box cutters, or passenger planes, wouldn’t it?
Now, “assault rifle” does have a real, true, specific, legal definition. According to the ATF a and other Federal agencies, an assault rifle is a rifle with a “selector switch” on it. It must have a switch in which, if you turn it, the gun will go from semi-automatic (shooting only one bullet for each time you pull the trigger), to firing fully automatically (rapidly shooting many bullets if you just pull the trigger once and keep it held down). The AR 15, therefore, is NOT an assault rifle, because it does NOT have a selector switch. It is only semi-automatic, like 75% of all the other rifles out there. It would be nice if politicians could learn this and stop misinforming people. But I won’t hold my breath.
Then Dick’s Sporting Goods came out yesterday and told everyone that they will no longer be selling “assault-style rifles”. I know what an assault rifle is…but what is an assault-STYLE or assault-TYPE of rifle? Is that a rifle that looks really scary and shoots lots of bullets? I notice that there is no legal definition of “assault-STYLE” rifle. (By the way, assault rifles are already ILLEGAL in all 50 states and have been for decades! One exception exists, however. In 11 states you can purchase a machine gun IF you buy a special permit, register yourself and the gun with law enforcement, and pay the going price for such a gun…anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000. The gangs and mafia have no problem skirting all these rigamarole and getting whatever machine guns they need, though).
But I digress. I wonder if, since semi-auto rifles can now be called really scary names such as “assault-style rifles”, I think we should call passenger jets “bomber-like 747s”. Earth moving equipment should be “tank-style bulldozers”. Box trucks and SUVs should be “assault-style vehicles”. Fireworks can be “missile-style explosives”. Hoodies and baggy pants are “gangster-like clothing”. Folding knives are “machete-style blades”. And Bic lighters can be “flame-throwing pocket incindiaries”.