A key tenet of leftist gun control orthodoxy is that “assault rifles” must be banned. Whatever the truth about how frequently those guns (semi-auto rifles that look scary to Democrats) are used to commit crimes (next to never), they just can’t get over the fact that some Americans like to own a semi-auto rifle that looks like an M16.
So, they go berserk the four times each year such a weapon is used in a high-profile crime. Rending their garments and beating their chests in the halls of Congres and in front of the cameras of CNN as crocodile tears stream down their cheeks, they bemoan the fact that Americans are, unlike our emasculated relatives in Europe, still able to own those scary “assault rifles.”
That’s been part of their demented platform for decades and perhaps reached its apex when Clinton passed his “assault weapons ban.” But though the law has gone away, the sentiment is still there; many Democrats want to ban “assault rifles” and their use of the idiotic term “assault rifles” shows their intentions.
That’s because, in the civilian gun market, there’s no such thing as “assault rifles,” which are select-fire rifles firing an intermediate caliber. Getting their name from the German Sturmgewehr-44, the first assault rifle whose name means “storm rifle,” actual assault rifles aren’t allowed on the civilian market because of the FDR-era NFA and later Reagan-era Hughes Amendment, which effectively made it illegal to produce full-auto guns for the civilian market. To get an actual assault weapon, you need a special permit and to pay yet another tax to the government.
But, for the longest time, leftists have refused to bow to that reality. They insist that the “AR” in “AR-15” stands for “assault rifle,” label anything that looks vaguely like a military rifle a “weapon of war,” and demand all manner of bans on the features of modern sporting rifles, such as 30 round magazines, flash hiders, and pistol grips.
Now, however, at least some leftists might be bowing to reality on the issue, as Bearing Arms points out. Writing in the New York Times, op-ed writer Lois Beckett had this to say on Clinton’s “assault weapons ban” and the class of guns it banned:
It was much the same in the early 1990s when Democrats created and then banned a category of guns they called “assault weapons.” America was then suffering from a spike in gun crime and it seemed like a problem threatening everyone. Gun murders each year had been climbing: 11,000, then 13,000, then 17,000.
Democrats decided to push for a ban of what seemed like the most dangerous guns in America: assault weapons, which were presented by the media as the gun of choice for drug dealers and criminals, and which many in law enforcement wanted to get off the streets.
This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with “military-style” features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.
Did you catch it? “Politically defined category of guns.” Beckett is admitting that the “assault weapons” moniker is a made up term used to describe guns that pro-gun control politicians don’t like. That’s it. That’s all it means.
Recognizing that is just a first step. But at least Democrats are starting to wake up to the reality that “assault weapons” aren’t a thing.