Why Don’t We Just Ban Assault Weapons?


This is an assault rifle. It is already massively regulated in America.

I understand the motivation. I really do. It seems some deranged psychopath is shooting up a school every week. However, despite that sordid reality there are three major reasons why we really shouldn’t try to ban assault weapons.

First, banning assault weapons would be like outlawing foul language or sunburn. Doing so might make us feel good, but it in no way affects reality. We seem incapable of devising a cogent definition for just what an assault weapon even is. “Just because it looks scary” seems dangerously vague in a legal document.

Such a ban might have made a difference half a century ago. Today, there are 440 million guns in America — rifles, pistols, shotguns, et al. If each of those guns was a typical GLOCK pistol it would be 8 inches long. If you stacked those guns muzzle to butt they would stretch from the surface of the earth to the International Space Station and back 109 times.

According to 1994 definitions, there are roughly 25 million assault weapons in circulation. If each of those was an AR15 stacked end to end they would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles and back 2.3 times. Non-gun guys have no idea the true scope of guns in America. They haven’t a clue. No amount of legislating will ever touch firearms in this country. Outlaw assault weapons tomorrow and the bad guys will have assault weapons when the sun burns out. The gun control ship sailed a couple of hundred million guns ago with the election of President Obama. There’s no putting that back in the box now.

This is what the Left would call an assault weapon. In reality, it is simply a
semiautomatic sporting gun owned by tens of millions of law-abiding Americans.

Second, mass shootings are the physical manifestation of the post-modern moral darkness that seems to be engulfing our nation and the world. Such horrors rightfully touch a visceral chord in any parent. I honestly cannot imagine the pain of something like that. However, there is the issue of scale.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control group, there were 1,363 people killed in mass shootings in America from 2009 through 2020. That’s 123 deaths per year on average in a nation of 328 million people. During the same time we lost 478,000 people PER YEAR to smoking. We lose 40,000 non-smokers (think little kids with asthma) to secondhand smoke per annum. So, it’s really not about the body count. It’s not about saving children. It’s about virtue signaling. Non-gun people believe themselves more virtuous than gun people.

When something horrible happens you always want something to vilify, someone to hate. We humans are hardwired to want a villain. For gun control types they see that awful stuff and hate the NRA. The NRA isn’t some faceless corporate entity. It’s just several million of their fellow Americans who disagree with them.

Lastly, and this is the big one, an assault weapons ban will actually make things worse. In medicine we call it First Do No Harm. No matter what you do, ensure your actions do not exacerbate the problem.

We are losing 123 Americans a year to mass shootings. There are 25 million assault weapons in America. Without confiscation an assault weapons ban is lyrically ineffective. If those guns are suddenly made illegal who exactly is going to enforce that law? You really can’t make a fresh new law if you don’t have a plan to enforce it. Laws without enforcement make a mockery of the system.

I have any number of good buddies in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A huge percentage of assault weapon owners simply will not comply with a ban. Are we going to send my ATF pals to go knock their doors down? Are we willing to incinerate their families to ensure that Beto O’Rourke’s grandiose confiscation scheme is enforced (“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47…”)?

123 deaths a year are undeniably horrible. Forcibly disarming otherwise law-abiding Americans would create literally millions of new criminals out of thin air and would be Waco on steroids from coast to bleeding coast. There is so much hatred and paranoia online nowadays that if even a tiny percentage of gun guys pushed back it would be a bloodbath.

There are 77.4 million gun owners in America — about one third of the adult population. For comparison purposes, there are nearly three times as many gun owners in America as there are soldiers on the entire planet. That’s every person in all the uniformed armed services in the world.

Guns in America have nothing to do with hunting. Nothing. Guns in private hands, especially the scary sort, have everything to do with a monopoly on power. The reason America has done such amazing things in the past 246 years is our unprecedented levels of personal freedom. Gun ownership is a critical part of that freedom. Real freedom is messy, ugly, bloody, and gross, but that’s the reason we have been the most powerful force for liberty the world has ever seen. You really can’t have one without the other.

Look at our recent crop of professional politicians. All they need is an excuse to forcibly impose their will on the American people. That will never, ever happen here, because 77 million of us own guns. Absent the will of the governed an armed populace is ungovernable. That’s the reason the founders designed it the way they did 246 years ago. And that’s why you really don’t want to try to ban assault weapons in America today.

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