Is your Congresstitute selling you an assault weapons ban in exchange for your vote?

"Assault weapon" clipart with the word "scary" on itCaveat emptor: you’re not getting what you think you’re getting

Attn: gun nerds…if there’s an error in here, please let me know. I will gladly update accordingly with corrections)

With all due respect to those calling for an assault weapons ban, 99% of the problem with the idea is the kind of checklist people use for categorizing an assault weapon.

From Wikipedia:

Common attributes used in legislative definitions of assault weapons include:

Detachable magazine. Insofar as magazine signifies “thingy with the bullets in it,” revolvers have a fidget spinner that holds bullets and…it’s detachable. There’s also fast reloaders for them. As a criterion, it doesn’t actually help define anything much if it can include so much.

Folding stock. Nice feature. Makes the murderstick easier to lug around. I don’t recall a shooting where the folding stock was essential to the mass shooter’s success.

Pistol grip. Also a nice feature. Helps with acquiring all targets after the first one. Know what else has them? Pistols.

Bayonet lug. One might have noticed that we don’t keep hearing about school kids getting mass bayonetted.

Threaded barrel. Useful for mounting flash suppression or noise suppression.

  • Flash suppression. Useful mainly at night, as the glare from a muzzle flash can make it difficult to acquire each target after the first. I’m pretty sure the school shootings aren’t happening at night. Also useful for minimizing risk of detection because muzzle flash can give away your position. I’m pretty sure that during a school shooting the whereabouts of the shooter is pretty easy to figure out from the trail of bodies and the loud bang bang bang. We’re not having a hard time finding the shooter because we couldn’t see his muzzle flash.
  • Noise suppression. Useful for, um. Help me out here. This isn’t Hollywood, and they don’t make a weapon whisper out a gentle pew pew pew. Are there tactical situations where the difference in decibels is useful? Yes. I’m pretty sure lone shooter in the reverb chamber called a school hallway isn’t one of those tactical situations.

Grenade launcher. Now we’re just being silly. When’s the last news of the kiddos having death rained down on them from above because some murderer is using something like an M203?

Barrel shroud. Useful for not burning yourself on a hot barrel. Know what else is useful for that? Ever see how far up the barrel a wood stock goes?

Not a single one of those features is what makes a so-called assault weapon more lethal than the next weapon. Want to focus on what makes them so lethal? It’s not firing rate, either. If that’s the measure, then be honest and say you also want revolvers and semi-automatic pistols gone. Same rate…fast as the finger can pull the trigger.

What makes them more lethal, if anything does, is the combination of recoil suppression and accuracy. The first shot is fairly easy with any weapon. It’s the ones that come after that rack up the body count. Every new body [target] needs to be acquired. It’s easier to do if recovery from the recoil of the previous shot is minimized. Bonus points for being able to use high-velocity ammo without as much recoil as a handgun with high velocity ammo would have. High velocity ammo usually means more mushrooming of the round on impact, much greater trauma, and maybe an exit wound you can drive a truck through.

But here’s the kicker. You might not know all that. And the details are arguable among gun nerds. There’s nothing wrong with being a gun nerd or a car nerd, by the way. It’s more useful than memorizing football stats or all the Pokemon. BUT…do you think the Congresstitutes writing the bills aren’t surrounded with experts who could tell them exactly those kinds of details? Yet they go after the cosmetics instead. Why is that?

The next time someone pushes an assault weapons ban bill to get your vote, just remember that. They’re pandering to you with empty symbolism.

All the things that actually make mass shooting weapons deadlier are either already illegal for all but a relative few who come under intense federal scrutiny (selective fire, for instance, the missing feature in an AR that means you won’t find them on an actual battlefield). The remaining things are accessories, not arms. Infringe on those all you want. Show me the Senator even attempting a standalone bill infringing on ammo choices, or a standalone bill infringing on removable magazines, or a standalone bill restricting recoil suppression.

Good luck with that. It’s all a smoke and mirrors show, and they all thank you for your support and validation by participating in the farce. If you do manage to infringe on the ownership of a certain kind of arm by virtue of superior votes, the Congresstitute still wins even though it’s just another kicking of the can. Will a ban survive this SCOTUS? Will another turn in political fortunes just mean the opposition will unban them again as soon as they can? And what about the existing weapons that you just know will be grandfathered in? There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a confiscatory policy on such weapons that are already out and about, and that policy would absolutely end up in a SCOTUS challenge with no guarantee of your side winning. A loss there could arguably make your case even harder to make in the future.

If you go after the ammo, accessories, and features that actually make them deadlier than you prefer, you might have more luck. We got rid of lawn darts with a far lower body count. And without access to those things, perhaps demand for the weapons that use them will fall off. What good is a truck without a gas tank, after all? And without demand, what’s the point in making the weapons? Ask Remington how well not planning for an entirely predictable turn of political fortunes worked out for them.

Show me the Congresstitute even attempting a standalone bill infringing on ammo choices, or a standalone bill infringing on removable magazines, or a standalone bill restricting recoil suppression.

2 replies »

  1. I partially disagree, Frank. I think what constitutes an assault weapon is the combination of the following factors: rate of fire, accuracy, effective lethal range, and capacity. Max out the RoF (automatic weapons) and accuracy can be crap because you’re filling the air with lead and you don’t need to to be accurate. Add a 100 round canister magazine turns pretty much any weapon that can accept the magazine into an assault weapon. And the more accurate the weapon, as you say, the more dangerous it is.

    The original assault weapon ban was easily defeated because it used the laundry list/detailed definition approach and gun makers tweaked their guns to be just a little bit different than the definition. Any new ban would necessarily need to be more generic.