Gun rights is a large topic and has within it thousands of different arguments and topics. One of the most commonly debated sub genres of gun rights is the ability for civilians to own assault rifles.
Assault rifles are hard to define due to the large amount of variation within the rifle category of weapon, but most definitions include magazine fed, semiautomatic to automatic firing options, and the ability to attach things such as bayonets, grenade launcher, pistol grip, or flash suppressors. Assault Rifles are the primary weapon of foot soldiers of the military and common assault rifles include the AK-47, M16 (known as AR-15 for civilians) and Uzi. Many civilians want the ability to own these types of weapons as well.
Civilians being able to possess military type weapons is very controversial. These weapons are designed to do a lot of damage, relatively easily, and pretty quickly. Allowing civilians to possess these weapons would allow for one crazed citizen to do massive civilian damage. This can be seen in the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, Webster, NY, and the Aurora shooting. In fact, from 1982- 2012 over 50% of mass shootings involved the use of assault rifles. All of this damage eventually led to an Assault Rifles ban in 1994. This law banned the new creation and sale assault rifles, automatic, high capacity handguns, and certain kinds of semi-automatic shotguns. However, this law did not completely eliminate civilian owned assault rifles. This law allowed for previously owned and manufactured assault rifles to be kept by civilians and companies alike. And since like I said earlier, defining assault rifles is difficult, the law had loopholes that allowed new assault rifle like weapons to still be produced and sold. This ban was in effect for 10 years and ended in 2004. During the time in which it was still enforced, there were several court cases against it that ultimately failed, but showed the unrest by certain people and areas against this law. After the law ended, many politicians tried to reinstate it, but currently have had no success. Which brings up a question, if these weapons are so dangerous and are responsible for so many mass shootings, why would people be against them being banned from civilian use?
The arguments against banning assault rifles fall into three main categories. First, people argue that the second amendment guarantees them the right to arm to arm themselves. They say that the founding fathers wanted to preserve the right to arm themselves and form their own militias. These people argue that this right includes assault rifles. People against assault rifles argue however that during the time of the founders their most advanced weapon was a musket. One crazed person with a musket is able to kill one, maybe two people before being stopped (and thats only if he was fast at reloading) while a crazed person with an assault rifle can kill hundreds before he is stopped.
The second argument is somewhat an extension of the first. Some people argue that the second amendment wasn’t made to ensure civilians rights to defend themselves from other civilians, but instead to defend themselves from their own government. Because of this, many of them argue that civilians should be allowed to own military type weaponry. This ensures that citizens could put up some type of fight against a future “tyrannical government”. However the anti-assault rifle activists state that the fact that the government owns tanks, bombers, explosives, and a lot more advanced technology, making this argument that allowing people to own assault rifles would allow for the citizenry to be able to fight off the US government with all its resources is invalid.
The final argument is that Americans should be able to defend themselves and homes from intruders, and an assault rifle with its rapid fire rate, ease of use, and massive stopping power should be an option for someone to use. They argue that if someone breaks inside of your home and intends to arm you and your family, why shouldn’t I be allowed to own the weapon that gives me the best chance to do this. The other side argues that a handgun or shotgun would be just as effective and that you don’t need an assault rifle to defend your home.
Overall assault rifle ownership is a a complicated topic with no clear answers. As someone who’s dad owns an AR-15 as well as an FN P90 I see no problem with assault rifle ownership. We use both guns as simply something fun to use at a shooting range. My dad also uses the FN P90 as a possible defensive weapon from any intruders in our house. However after witnessing the damage these guns do to targets, I do see how in the wrong hands they would be capable of doing a large amount of damage to a civilian population. I think the true issue with assault rifles is not the gun itself, but the person who possess it.