“Assault weapons” vs. “Patrol rifles”

Not long ago, I mentioned an editorial in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that advocated a new ban on so-called "assault weapons." The media and the civilian disarmament advocacy groups (but perhaps I repeat myself) seem to be engaged in a blitz against these firearms (as has been pointed out at Snowflakes in Hell, Traction Control, Days of our Trailers, Captain of a Crew of One, and undoubtedly others that I've missed).

A reader and commenter (Straight Arrow) here at Armed and Safe pointed out something about the editorial that I missed. Although I of course made note of the paper's editorial board's tyranny-enabling advocacy of a ban on "assault weapons" for civilians, while simultaneously claiming that "people shouldn't be opposed to cops having these weapons," I failed to spot the verbal gymnastics (despite their decided lack of subtlety) used a bit earlier in the editorial:

Understandably, officers in more South Florida police agencies have been arming themselves — at their own expense — with patrol rifles to be on more even footing with criminals — particularly gangs — they encounter.

Suddenly, what had been an "assault weapon" (or the even less honest use of the term "assault rifle") has become a "patrol rifle"–presumably because it is now in the hands of a police officer.

Perhaps I should count this as progress. After all, we (as gun rights advocates) have been arguing all along that the outrage and loathing should be directed at the evil person who commits evil with a gun, rather than the gun he uses for that purpose. By referring to an AR-15 in the hands of a gang banger as an "assault weapon" (with all the menace that term is intended to convey) while calling an identical firearm in the hands of a police officer a "patrol rifle" (a much more noble-sounding designation), they seem to have come a bit closer to that understanding–it at least implies an understanding that the user of a weapon determines whether good or evil is done with it.

Still, it's not enough. They refer to these firearms as "assault weapons," whether they belong to criminals/psychopaths, or peaceable civilians who would never shoot someone who does not mean them harm, and who does not present a serious, credible threat. Likewise, I assume that to them, an AR-15 in a police cruiser's trunk is a "patrol rifle," whether the officer in the car is a courageous protector of his/her community, or a monster with a badge.

In the end, an "assault weapon" is a "patrol rifle," is a homeland defense rifle, etc. To put it another way, "a rose by another name . . . ." To put it still another way, whether a gun is an instrument of evil, or a lifesaver, boils down to the intent and actions of the person holding it, rather than the cosmetic features or designation it bears.