Thoughts on AWB

I was thinking about the Assault Weapons Ban and the reasons behind it. What occurred to me is that the AWB was an emotional reaction to the repugnace by many in society to the proliferation of long guns that looked like they were designed to take human life. I’m not a big gun fan, but I appreciate that rifles and shotguns for hunting and target shooting are no big deal. I can also understand that in some cases people feel the need for handguns as personal defense.

I rememember ads for guns in Boy’s Life and Field and Stream back in the 50s and 60s. They were about hunting and target shooting. At some point, however, there was a rise in guns that looked like they would be used by the military. Coupled with school shootings and political assasinations a portion of the public saw “assault weapons” as almost pornographic in the way they seemed to promote violence.

I knw that I have very different reactions from seeing an AK47 and a bolt action hunting rifle, even though both can be used to kill people or shoot targets.


There’s no intrinsic value that a classic wooden stock adds to a firearm that would make such a weapon better suited for hunting than one which has a synthetic stock (such as the AR-15.) Generally speaking I think, to take an example of a popular “scary killing weapon” in many people’s minds, the AR-15 definitely wouldn’t be my weapon of choice for hunting.

My opinion on such weapons is that there are three classes of people who buy them:

  1. People who in my opinion have an unhealthy obsession with collecting various weapons due to more or less fetishism with guns and military-style firearms.

  2. People who are involved in sport shooting and appreciate the fact that weapons like the AR-15 are highly modular and customizable, and at the root of it are fine weapons for this very purpose.

  3. More innocuous “collectors” of firearms of all type. I differentiate these people from the the people in number 1 because these types just have a more general appreciation for firearms and will have many guns of many time spanning many historical eras; these are more historical appreciators of the craft of creating fine weapons than they are fetishists of military-style and military surplus weapons.

Obviously there can be some crossover between the groups and the percentage of owners of these weapons who fall in each group would be open for debate.

Yes, I agree. It’s like pit bulls. There are some responsible owners who want to own an interesting breed, then there are the white trash types who put studded collars on them and train them to be mean. It’s be gard to drawup a leagl definition, but you know them when you see them.

Sure…but it’s simply a visual reaction. One could have a hunting rifle (even a semi-auto) with a wooden stock firing a .308 round and not have the gut reaction as that of a (semi-auto) AK47 firing a… .308 round (or 7.62 mm if you prefer). The guns fire exactly the same round in exactly the same way with exactly the same rate of fire…and yet one is scary looking and the other isn’t. They both do exactly the same thing though.

And that’s really the crux of why gun rights advocates get so hot and bothered about AWB…the guns banned are banned simply for cosmetic reasons. And if you can ban guns simply because they look vewy scawy then where will it end?


I tend to agree with you guys, but I think the gun lobby could do a better PR job. I don’t really see a need to AWB, but I think it’s a battle gun enthusiasts will lose if they don’t provide more convincing arguments for less regulation, and spokespeople that the average person in this country can relate to.

The average person in this country is less and less likely to be able to relate to the rural White guy who like to shoot guns and wants to be able to buy an “assault weapon” because the constitution says he should be able to. Most people, don’t hunt, nor do they see the need for anyone else to. Most of the times they hear about guns, it’s related to needless death, destruction of communities and families, and crime. Of course that’s not the entire picture, but it becomes increasingly difficult to sell minorities, suburbanites, and city dwellers on a foreign, antiquated, and obsessive lifestyle. That doesn’t mean an AWB is productive, effective, or fair, but I think the gun lobbyists will lose this battle long term if they don’t adjust their strategy.

I can certainly agree that the criteria the current AWB uses are ridiculous, but what if a new law were passed that distinguished weapons based on real functionality? Say, muzzle velocity, or total energy per round, or rate of fire. Would a bill banning “assult weapons”, as defined by such criteria, be any less offensive?

Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? If you tried to ban weapons based on those criteria then your ban would be much wider and probably a lot less popular. You’d be banning hunting weapons and target shooting weapons, and it would be pretty obvious to even the most unsophisticated that you were making a serious move at really taking away peoples guns…so, in effect, you’d get a whole hell of a lot more resistance. Instead, playing on fear and ignorance, there is the AWB, which can be sold to the public as banning ‘assault rifles’ (which everyone knows are vewy scawy, and that only insurgents, terrorists and the military uses).

It’s a trick IOW, to get something limited passed that can fly mostly under the public’s radar and not get them all freaked out that the government is REALLY out to get the guns…just get the scawy ones. What has pro-gun folks a bit freaked out is that they can SEE it’s a trick, because it’s fairly obvious when you actually look at the ban and have even a rudimentary knowledge of fire arms. So, pro-gun folks are thinking to themselves…what will they try next if they are doing this??


I think my point, if I have one, is that the AWB is a reaction to a sub-culture of the gun community that glorifies the use of weapons against people rather than for hunting and target shooting. Take G. Gordon Liddy, for example, who advocated shooting Federal Agents in the head because they may be wearing body armor.

It’d be nice to return to the day that you thought about hunting when you saw a rifle rather than about gangs, or cults stockpiling weapons to fight the govt’s black helicopter storm troopers.

Banning guns because they look like military weapons is irrational, but so is buying them they because look like military weapons.

The equivalent of saying ‘Buying a car because it’s a practical tool for driving is one thing, but buying one because it’s ‘pimp’ is something else again. We should only allow cars that look practical…if they look ‘pimp’ then we should ban them because this produces a gangsta image that we want to avoid’. Now…you couldn’t get away with that with cars…but you can with guns.

And that’s the crux of why the pro-gun folks are always so gloom and doom.


Actually, that can be a cheaper, tougher, and long-lasting stock. Synthetic stocks mean you can mold the basic frame for the firearm out of one piece, OR give it more flexibility to adapt to the user (by tweaking the stock angle). And it’s cheaper to make than wood.

I don’t understand why you would classify someone who prefers collecting one certain kind of firearm to be a “fetishist” or “obsessed,” but people who prefer collecting different types of firearms or a greater variety of firearms to be “innocuous collectors.” This is the mother of all loaded terminology. I mean, really, what gives? Your distinction between group 1 and group 3 that you’ve explained doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

You used the phrase “fetishists of military-style and military surplus weapons.” You should know that none of the so-called “assault weapons” available in America are military surplus weapons. Some of them are built from parts kits, using American-made receivers and military surplus parts from other countries, but you will not find a single semi-automatic AK or AR or FAL in America that is genuinely military-surplus, because the militaries of the world do not employ neutered semi-automatic-only versions of assault rifles.

So that leaves “fetishists of military-style” weapons. Where’s the cutoff for this category? Is someone who has an M1 Carbine, an M1 Garand, a German Mauser and a British Lee-Enfield a “fetishist of military-style weapons?” Because all of those are military style weapons. Actually, forget the style part, they’re straight up military weapons. They were used in multiple wars. They are weapons of war. Is someone who collects those a fetishist?

Or is a fetishist only someone who collects weapons based on military designs of the Cold War and afterwards - which comprise the pistol-gripped, detachable magazine rifles such as AKs and ARs and FALs?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Cool it with the loaded terms.

Wait, the govt doesn’t set standards on cars? You mean aside from fleet mileage, strength of bumpers, types of glass in windows, seat belts, air bags, crash worthiness, emissions standards, … I’d bet $5 that the list of manufacturing standards for automobiles is 10x longer than that for guns.

Apples to oranges. Yeah, the government sets standards on cars. Are you seriously saying that the government decides the ornamental or visual aspects?? Think of it this way…can I get a HumVee that LOOKS like it’s a military vehicle? Should the government ban me from getting a vehicle that looks ‘military’?

Sure. But it’s an apples to oranges comparison. AFAIK, the government doesn’t ban the majority of ornamental attachments to cars because they look scary, or ‘pimp’ or ‘military’. And this is EXACTLY what you ARE banning weapons based on.

See the difference? You aren’t banning guns based on not meeting safety standards, or emissions standards, but instead on how they look, or what ornamentation they have…or don’t have.


I’m not saying the govt should ban assault weapons becuase they look like weapons specically made to kill people, I’m staing that is why they do it.

Cars kill more people every year than guns, but car companies and don’t promote cars that are made for drunk drivers, and liquor companies don’t promote drinks for drunk drivers. Gas companies don’t have special blends of gasoline optimized for mowing people down. I guarantee that if GM released a car named “PedKiller” there would be a outrage.

Come up with a gun called “Street Sweeper”, though, and all is OK. The govt shouldn’t have to step in and ban assault weapons, the gun community should have just rejected them as repugnant.

So…you are claiming that weapons on the AWB list were major killing problems prior to the ban? Fair enough…prove it. How many crimes and murders were committed with guns or weapons on the list?

So, you equate guns made to look military with the same as murder, ehe? Because that would be the equivalent of marketing cars to drunk drivers…marketing guns to murderers. It’s very interesting that you see it that way…sort of telling, don’t you think?

Well, the thing is, the gun community as you put it doesn’t have a chance to reject it, since, you know, ACTUAL assault rifles and other military grade weapons are already banned. What you want is for the gun community to reject weapons that LOOK like assault weapons, simply because you think they are vewy scawy and so everyone else should think that too…and be as morally indignant about them as you are, despite the fact that functionality wise they are exactly the same as weapons no on the list. Looks are everything after all…


Dan, I get what you’re saying, and where you’re coming from. I too received Boy’s Life for many years, and participated in the Scout’s, and received both the Rifle and Shotgun Shooting merit badges.

I also don’t think you meant to equate everyone who buys an AR-15 or AK-47 (semi-auto-only civilian version) with irresponsible drivers, regardless of certain segments of public perception

Here’s some food for thought on the AWB. I purchased an M1A rifle this weekend, specifically, this model. It’s a direct descendant of the venerable M1 Garand my father humped through the South Pacific in WWII; it’s a semi-auto only version of the rifle my brother was issued in Vietnam.

I bought it for two reasons:

  1. It’s up for banning;
  2. It’s a good rifle, if a tad pricey.

What am I going to use it for? Primarily, for holding my gun safe on the floor. Occasionally, I’m going to assault some paper targets on a rifle range.

Talk of a renewed AWB has the gun stores selling out faster than they can restock, of both firearms (of all types, not just AWB!) and ammunition.

Exactly the opposite intention of the current administration, I would think.

I don’t see how you can say such a ban would be wider: It could be as wide or as narrow as the lawmakers wanted, depending on where they drew the line on each of those criteria. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I would imagine that the typical military weapon is capable of a higher rate of fire than the typical hunting weapon, so on that criterion, at least, one could distinguish between the military weapons that the term “assault weapon” evokes and more traditional civilian arms.

And yes, I’m quite aware that one could kill a deer with an M16, or kill a soldier with Grandpa’s old farm shotgun, which is why I said “typical”.

Automatic weapons are already highly regulated.

Edit: and I’m sure someone more knowledgeable will come along, but I’m also pretty sure that burst-fire weapons are also highly regulated as per auto weapons.

Not really.

If it’s powerful enough to kill a deer, or moose, or big cat, or bear, etc, it’s powerful enough to kill a human being. Period. Humans are ridiculously fragile animals.

Nope. Semi Automatic rifles are all capable of firing at the same rate, one pull of the trigger and one shot, and they all reload faster than you can pull the trigger.

You’ve fallen into the classic trap that ‘assault weapons’ are somehow military in nature, they’re not. They cannot and do not fire any faster than any other weapon.

Can is technically correct, as you can kill a deer with a .22 rifle. However, it’s illegal to hunt deer with traditional M16 derivatives (AR-15’s) in many states because the bullet size is not large enough to kill them humanely. So, no, you cannot hunt deer with a .223. By the way, M16’s have been illegal to sell (new) since 1986.

Any gun that fires more than 1 round per trigger pull is regulated under the same laws as full auto firearms.