Gun control advocates would have you believe that banning “assault rifles” is job one. After all, they’re the guns used by spree killers and terrorists. According to President Obama, these “weapons of war” have “no business being on our streets.” (Except for the ones carried by police. And federal agents.) It was not always thus. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence started out as the National Council to Control Handguns. Handguns were – and remain – criminals’ first choice for ballistic weaponry. But the primacy of handguns amongst ne’er-do-wells isn’t the reason that Americans no longer support a ban on “assault rifles.” The real reason there’s been such a huge shift away from the pro-ban position in the last four years is . . .
Americans want these guns.
We could talk about the modern sporting rifle’s (a.k.a., “assault rifle”) general advantages over other types of rifles. Chambered in .223, MSR’s are accurate, soft-shooting, ergonomically adjustable for all shooters, reliable, durable, cheap-to-run and affordable. What’s not to love?
All of that has helped MSRs become widely popular. But the change in public opinion away from banning MSRs isn’t about one style of rifle vs. another. It’s about having a rifle vs. not having a rifle.
While MSR’s are wonderful hunting guns and tremendous fun for plinking, more and more Americans have taken to them because they are suitable for self-defense. Not walking-around self-defense. Major problem self-defense. Home invasions. Terrorist attacks. And this is the big one: the government.
Don’t get me wrong. MSR owners are not proto-insurrectionists. They’re not preparing to fight against government agents coming to take their guns away and/or send them to FEMA re-education camps. Some are. Most aren’t. Millions of Americans are buying “assault rifles” because they don’t trust the police or the government to keep them safe. They’re buying MSR’s as a hedge against government incompetence.
So why not a handgun? Not enough firepower. At the risk of inciting derision from the college-educated members of the anti-gun assault media, the average American isn’t stupid. They see police responding to serious threats with “assault rifles.” If cops (and the military) depend on scary black rifles for worst case scenarios, why would a citizen “settle” for anything less? Answer: they don’t.
As TTAG readers know, the more gun control advocates agitate for an “assault weapons” ban, the more they hype MSR’s as the worst possible weapon for bad guys, the more people think, well, if the government doesn’t want me to have one and the worst-of-the-worst use them, they must be totally bad-ass. And so they are. And so Americans want them and don’t want the government preventing them from having one. Or two. Or more.
Also true: the next time terrorists attack innocents on U.S. soil, that desire will grow. And support for an “assault weapon” ban will diminish. If you think about it, it’s simple common sense.