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(This post is an entry in our spring content contest. If you’d like a chance to win a Beretta APX pistol, click here for details.) 

By Jeff S.

The following is primarily intended to educate those who think restricting “assault weapons” is an effective policy to reduce gun violence and help them to understand part of the reason why gun enthusiasts oppose such laws. As such, much of the discussion is likely to strike the average TTAG reader as very basic.

Whenever a murder rampage employing guns occurs, it is natural for people to wish that there were some simple and effective action that could be taken to prevent or significantly reduce the impact of such tragedies. Since mass murderers often select military-style semi-automatic firearms as effective, easy-to-use tools where they are available, many believe that restricting or banning “assault weapons” would be an effective policy to significantly reduce gun deaths from such incidents.

This position relies largely on the belief that there is some definite, bright line dividing “assault weapons” from less deadly weapons, and that those less deadly weapons are adequate for the average citizen’s self-defense. This position also relies on the related belief that deadly assault weapons are excessive to any legitimate need that the average citizen may ever have. Thus they can be restricted without any adverse effect on law-abiding (i.e., “sane” , “rational”, “responsible”, etc.) citizens. Those more familiar with firearms recognize both these beliefs as two sides of the same load of codswallop.

Firearms have a continuum of effectiveness for shooting other people, either to commit murder or to stop an attacking would-be murderer (or gang of murderers). In the later case, the ability to project a credible threat may serve as a sufficient deterrent that actually shooting the attacker becomes unnecessary.

Certain features (semi-automatic action, detachable magazines, larger-capacity fixed magazine, etc.) make firearms more effective than firearms that lack those features. As various features of firearms are defined as “assault” features and restricted from the average citizen, the firearms available to the law-abiding become less effective for both criminal misuse and for responsible self-defense use.

Any restriction that may hypothetically save lives in a mass shooting also restricts the ability of a citizen to defend themselves using such a firearm. There is simply no way to avoid this trade-off. So, when well-intentioned activists call for a ban on “assault weapons”, citizens who rely on such weapons to potentially defend themselves and their families see this as a demand that they accept less-effective weapons to defend their loved ones. Predictably, they tend to oppose such restrictions.

Unfortunately, such restrictions impact the law-abiding citizen more than they impact the would-be mass murderer. The law-abiding citizen is limited to what is legally permitted, while the murderer is free to make illegal modifications to their weapons to make them more effective.

Someone contemplating multiple murders is unlikely to be deterred by the thought that, if caught, an illegal weapons charge might be tacked onto the multiple murder and attempted murder charges. Murderers also have the advantage of being able to plan their attack to overcome any limitations in the weapons that are available to them.

Limited to 10-round magazines, the average citizen is limited to the magazine in the gun and perhaps one or two spare magazines that are carried, because it is impractical to have more at hand on an ongoing basis for use against an attack which may occur at any time. In contrast, the murderer who knows when they plan to attack can simply stock up on such magazines and carry a satchel full of loaded magazines when they attack.

Similarly, a mass-murderer can employ such techniques as arson and/or improvised explosives to compensate for any limitations in the weapons available to them, while these have no value to the citizen engaged in self-defense. When attacking, a murderer is free to smash a motor vehicle into a building to gain entry, block exits to prevent victims escaping, and take other actions that have no equivalent advantage for the law-abiding citizen.

Quite simply, legal and moral restrictions are primarily effective on those who choose to be responsible, and are far less a hindrance to those who are plotting actions that completely disregard responsibility. We see, repeatedly, that a large proportion of rampage killers put considerable effort into planning their attacks, studying previous attacks and trying to figure out how they can do “better”.

With knowledge of their intended target and time of attack, they can plot how to minimize any restrictions on weaponry when carrying out that particular attack. They have the luxury of working around weapon restrictions, while the law-abiding citizen does not.

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  1. Wish these coddled white and Asian nerds would go get hookers instead of an AR15 thinking theyll be the baddest man on Earth. No offense and I mean that fully but ive never seen Jose or Darryl shoot up a elementary school

    • You know Jose too?.. tell that foo I said what’s up. Don’t forget to tilt your head back for effect.

    • Actually the majority of people who get murdered every year is people of color; It’s just that in most cases the major networks don’t give a damn enough about minorities despite claiming to do such to care. It doesn’t feed their narrative. Don’t believe me? Go to and see who’s getting shot and who’s doing the shooting.

  2. As someone who lived for years at Childers in Australia and transfered just before the crazy person burnt 15 people to death I can assure you banning firearms doesn’t prevent anything!

    But as the author says if you know anything about guns that is already obvious.

  3. Personally, I almost prefer mass killers to want to use a gun or knife, because IEDs / vehicles are pretty nasty and pretty hard to stop (by CCW holders). That said, the TSA’s 95% failure rate scares me way worse.

  4. “The following is primarily intended to educate those who think restricting “assault weapons” is an effective policy to reduce gun violence…”

    Ah. So all… 1 of us. And he’ll be along shortly to not read the article before commenting, I’m sure.

      • Exactly. The message is out, and “if it saves just one life” then it cost nothing to the masses and greatly benefitted that one person.

        Good article!

  5. You forgot creativity. Murderers are always willing to come up with new and innovative ways to do what they do. Lets not forget that the worse case of homicide in the US was done with box cutters. 2200 people/19 hijackers is a body count in excess of 100 each. Even the pulse doesn’t come close to that and I’m betting they could have saved a huge quantity of those people if the police weren’t morons about it; Then again that’s another reason to carry your own instead of making a call for a gun.

  6. Its not Gun Control it is about Control pure and simple, powerful people are programing you to do Anti- freedom actions for their benefit, through economic incentives (Bloomberg, Soros, Democratic party, power corrupted religious leaders).
    Payoff to the poor, such as Welfare, Free Medical, free Dental, subsidized housing! America was founded on the premise of opportunity to avail themselves of an opportunity to succeed, most of our economic freedoms; like setting up and starting a business has been usurped by government lackey’s in the guise of regulations, huge amounts donated to their campaign funds,(tax free booty that goes in back pocket when retired), these huge amount are a hint to vote the progressive way for the big guy and screw the little people! Same for so call Gun contro which is actually a weak attempt at people control


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