Volokh explains “Why are gun rights supporters worried about bans on so-called assault weapons?”

Here Is a good article from Eugene Volokh.

But, some say, if assault weapons are so similar to other guns, what’s the big deal about banning them? Just like the minority of criminals that uses assault weapons can switch to the other guns (an argument that the bans will be futile), so law-abiding citizens can do the same (an argument that the bans won’t harm lawful self-defense). Why get so upset about it?

Let me offer a few explanations for why gun rights supporters are indeed so worried — you can agree with them or disagree with them, but I hope you at least conclude that they are plausible.

1. To begin with, some gun rights supporters just think that people should be free to choose what devices they own — whether self-defense devices or any other devices — unless there’s a very strong reason for restricting that liberty. If you think that a ban would save thousands of lives, that may qualify as a strong reason; but if you think that a ban would be ineffectual, then you can oppose it on basic liberty grounds.

While I understand the merits of this line of thought, compelling government interest (under strict scrutiny) is something that should always be viewed with suspicion and then only grudgingly given into after a thoroughly convincing argument.

2. Beyond this, as I’ve noted over the last two days — see the Violence Policy Center post and the Charles Krauthammer post — some supporters of gun bans have argued in favor of assault weapons bans precisely because they can help lead to broader bans (such as bans on handguns). If some of your opponents think a restriction is good because it will lead to something much broader, you might be forgiven for taking them at their word.

For many, point 2 is a major concern: we know the Slippery Slope is something that exists and not just a fallacy used to dismiss criticism.

3. Moreover, consider the political question as dynamic, rather than static. People are worried about mass shootings, or street crime, or whatever else. Many people say, “We’ve got to do something — let’s ban assault weapons.” Critics argue, “Assault weapons bans won’t do any good.” The response: “We’ve got to do something!” And then an assault weapons ban is enacted.

But mass shootings will keep on happening. Even assault weapons ban supporters agree with that; many mass shooters already use guns other than assault weapons, and even those who prefer those weapons will either keep getting them or will switch to other, comparably deadly, weapons. Assault weapons ban supporters believe that assault weapons bans will do a bit of good, not that they’ll eliminate or even vastly reduce mass shooting deaths. Assault weapons ban opponents believe the bans won’t reduce mass shooting deaths at all. No-one thinks the bans will solve the mass shooting problem.

We’ve seen this in California and New York, both of which continually have tightened restrictions with no end in sight.

 

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