Gun grabbers are often very clever in how they argue about the right to keep and bear arms. However, their rationalizations for gun control policies are often confusing. In reality, they either don’t quite fully realize, or don’t care to admit, the true reason they favor gun control laws regardless of the practical impacts.

When their contradictory theories about the Second Amendment fail, they sometimes reframe the discussion by appealing to presumed “gun sense.”

“Fine. People might have a right to own guns. But nobody needs an assault weapon!”

This argument is a head fake; they initially acknowledge gun rights, only to push for restricting people’s access to certain guns.They also presume the sale by phrasing the question as though everyone knows what an “assault weapon” is.

But what exactly do they mean when they refer to “assault weapons?”

No one really has a clear answer.

It’s why assault weapon bans can be so difficult to create and enforce. Lawmakers don’t have a working definition, just a general concept. Legislation requires specificity because ambiguity invites loopholes.

Yet the vagueness surrounding “assault weapons” doesn’t negate the intense emotions involved in the discussions. Nothing infuriates a gun control activist more than the sight of a civilian holding certain types of weapons. They can’t describe what an “assault weapons” is precisely, but they know it when they see it.

What you’ll find is that they’re not responding to the firearm’s caliber, capacity or features.

Click on the links to these two rifles that Ruger offers; here and here.

What was your initial reaction to them? Did you have the same reaction to both? Probably not.

Chances are, if you were to show those pictures to a gun control proponent and ask which one is an assault rifle, they would select the second rifle.

In reality, the Rugers are the same semi-automatic .22 rifle. Both can use the same magazines. The only major difference between them is their outward appearances.

Some may argue that people assume one is an assault rifle because it looks more powerful than the other. Possibly, but this only works if the discussion went no further. It doesn’t explain why gun control advocates can’t define an “assault weapon” despite knowing appearances are deceiving.

What makes a gun an “assault weapon” in the eyes of gun grabbers is its aesthetic qualities. Guns and other weapons are works of art. Art reflects values. It’s why the same gun has different stocks and features. Gun owners can customize them to express their specific values.

A rustic-looking rifle with grooved carvings on the wooden stock signals the intent by the owner to use it for shooting targets and game. Shotguns are commonly regarded as home-defense weapons against home invasions, so they draw little ire. Assault weapons send an unmistakable message that the person who owns it doesn’t have it just to target shoot or for home defense. Most rifles aren’t well-suited for close quarters as it is, but the aesthetic qualities imply the weapon is for combat situations.

A person buys an “assault weapon” because it declares their self-ownership and right to revolution in a way a discreet-looking rifle does not.

Gun control advocates perceive this, perhaps on a subconscious level. It’s an act of defiance against their ideology which preaches government is ultimately sovereign and has a moral imperative to maintain superiority of arms over the people. It’s why they don’t care what type of swords, crossbows, pikes or spears people own; those weapons pose no threat to the government or its ability to control the populace.

When gun grabbers call for a ban on “assault weapons” they aren’t trying to restrict a weapon. They are trying to censor subversive political artwork. They’d prefer banning all guns if practical, but the current political climate forces them to go after weapons that elicit enough negative emotions that they don’t have explain why they should be banned.

It’s easy to dismiss these visceral reactions to “assault weapons” as ignorance, irrational fear or political indoctrination. That may be the case. But the lack of a specific “assault weapon” definition indicates the opposition is based on appearances. As a piece of art, assault weapons declare people are ultimately sovereign, not their government, but what makes them dangerous artwork in the eyes of gun control advocates is that they are also the appropriate tools to enforce those very beliefs if need be.

TJ Martinell

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


maharrey minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.