Myth 5 – The Problem is “Assault Weapons”

Banning Assault Weapons is like tilting at windmills for several reasons.

  1. What is an “Assault Weapon”?  One of the most popular “Assault Weapons” is the AR-15.  This is the civilian version of the military’s M4 Carbine.  The primary difference between the AR-15 and the M4 is that the AR-15 is sold as semi-automatic only.  Meaning when you pull the trigger once, one bullet is fired and one new cartridge is automatically loaded so it is ready to fire with the next trigger pull.  The M4 has a selector which allows the rifle to fire as a semi-automatic, a burst fire automatic (pull the trigger once and three bullets are fired in rapid succession), and/or fully automatic (pull the trigger once and hold it to fire all bullets in the magazine in succession).
    1. Let’s compare the AR-15 to a modern hunting rifle like the Mossberg MVP Varmint and Predator.  Both guns are semi-automatic, fire the 5.56 cartridge, and use the same magazines.   Differences?  The AR-15 has a pistol grip and is black.   How does color and grip make the rifle more dangerous? Maybe it just looks dangerous?
    2. If we compare the AR-15 to an old school hunting rifle like my Dad’s Remington 742, there are two more differences.  First, the 742 uses a 30.06 Springfield cartridge, which is significantly more powerful (and deadlier) than the AR-15’s cartridge. Second, the 742 uses 4 round magazines as opposed to the AR-15’s 10 to 30 round magazines.  The magazine capacity myth has already been covered.
  2. California has tried banning “Assault Weapons” for years.  First, people got around the ban by just using older pre-ban receivers. Then they got around it by modified the the magazine with a “bullet button” so that technically detaching the magazine took a “tool” (a bullet) to release it.  ( Then CA modified the law to ban bullet buttons, so people got around it by using a different stock that did not have a pistol grip. ( Now, they have a reloader so you can use a fixed magazine. ( That is a whole lot of legislative effort that has been constantly subverted.
  3. Let’s do some math.  We will use the FBI’s Homicide statistics from 2014.  (  There were 8,124 homicides using firearms.  There is no category for “Assault Weapons” so let’s conservatively assume that all rifles are “Assault Weapons”.  So that is 248 out of 8,124 (3%).  So does it make sense to spend so much effort to reduce “gun violence” by less than 3%?  And that begs the question: “If the criminals didn’t have assault weapons, wouldn’t they just use another type of rifle or handgun?”
  4. Every time the media talks about banning “assault weapons”, tens of thousands are sold.  So the fear of “Assault Weapons” combined with the threat of banning them has caused ownership to increase exponentially.  So trying to keep them off the streets results in more on the streets?