Argument: An assault weapons ban leads to a slippery slope of gun seizures

Issue Report: Assault weapons ban in the United States


  • James Bovard. “The Assault-Weapons Scam, Part 1”. The Future of Freedom Foundation. March 1996 – “The 1994 federal assault-weapons ban could be the first step towards legislation leading to the confiscation of tens of millions of private rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Though the bill Clinton signed purportedly targets only ‘assault weapons,’ the loose definitions and expansive goals of the antigun lobby will almost certainly lead to a vast expansion of weapons to be seized. And, as the experience of several states and New York City shows, the destruction of the Second Amendment via political demagoguery has already progressed much further than most Americans realize.”
  • Timothy Wheeler. “Assault-Weapons Ban, R.I.P. Good riddance”. National Review Online. September 13, 2004 – “As the assault-weapon panic fades, gun-control activists will find another kind of gun to demonize. In fact, they already have. On California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk lies a bill to ban .50 caliber rifles, a target rifle fancied by well-to-do hobbyists. Gun controllers have ginned up a myth of .50-caliber rifles as the new weapon of choice for terrorists, just as assault weapons were supposedly preferred by criminals. In fact, there is only one reported case of a .50-caliber rifle ever having been used in a crime in the United States. Golf clubs are more frequently used as crime weapons than .50 caliber rifles.”
The Wall Street Journal has noted that national legislation banning these firearms could cover 20-30 million of them. Legal experts in the California Department of Justice did not believe it was possible to ban so-called “assault rifles” without banning all semi-automatics. (2)
Some states have passed legislation just this sweeping. In 1989, New Jersey State Senator Frank Graves introduced a bill which defined an assault weapon as any rifle or semi-automatic shotgun with a magazine capacity of 7 or more rounds or any semi-automatic handgun of 18 or more rounds. Any firearm which uses a detachable magazine technically has a ‘magazine capacity’ of these large sounding numbers because it can accept a magazine of any capacity that fits that firearm.
Because of the wording used in this bill, and similar bills introduced in both the U.S. Congress and the state legislatures, a lot more people stood to lose their firearms than may have initially realized it. In this way, hunters and other sportsmen are misled into thinking that they have nothing to worry about.”