Interesting background on the campaign to outlaw assault weapons.
In 1988, the gun-prohibition strategist Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center analyzed why gun-control advocates should pivot away from handguns, a topic on which the media had grown bored. “Assault weapons” enjoyed the advantage of novelty. Moreover, as he explained: “The semi-automatic weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”…
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that the “assault weapon” ban was “purely symbolic. . . . Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation” (April 5, 1996).
Always known that, but nice to see it in B&W. The distinction between “semi-automatic” and “machine-gun” is lost on most casual advocates of gun control. Most of the time I explain it to them, I’m greeted with an “are you sure?” because to concede that point would more or less lose the argument.
I’d never heard about the “NATO doctrine” in the context of the 2nd Amendment. Makes sense. At the rate Putin’s going it may outlast NATO…
American gun owners basically had the same idea as Krauthammer. After Czar Bennett’s import ban, they mobilized under what the Second Amendment Foundation calls the “NATO doctrine”: an attack on one form of gun ownership is an attack on all. This is one of the most important reasons why the American Second Amendment movement has been so politically effective for most of the last nine decades: American gun owners defend the right to own types of guns that they do not personally own and may have no interest in owning.
This is very different from the behavior of gun owners in some other nations. For example, in the United Kingdom, shotgun owners have paid little attention to the rights of rifle owners, and neither ever did much for handgun owners. So, today, handguns are gone, while long guns are legally owned by less than 5 percent of the population.