Why Does Anyone Need an Assault Rifle? What a Silly Question.

Looking beyond "need": rethinking the assault rifle question.

Published: Jun 5, 2023  |  

Retired detective and writer

assault rifle

Recently, President Biden called for a ban on assault weapons while commemorating the anniversary of a tragic school shooting. And like clockwork, the gun control advocates chimed in with their favorite question: “Why does anyone need an assault rifle?”

This line of inquiry is more than just problematic; it’s downright silly. It assumes that Americans should only possess things that the powers that be deem “necessary.” A pretty bold assumption, don’t you think, especially in a country that prides itself on individual freedoms and rights?

Before starting, let’s acknowledge the never-ending debate over what constitutes an “assault rifle.” The term gets thrown around a lot to describe those military-looking semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15. So, for clarity and to keep up with the popular lingo, I’ll refer to these firearms as assault weapons. Let’s not get too hung up on semantics; we’ve got a silly question to address.

The absurdity of the question

Let’s dive into the absurdity of the question, shall we? As someone who stands by the Second Amendment, I’ll admit that not everyone out there “needs” an assault rifle. But here’s the thing: using the “needs” argument as a basis for banning anything is a slippery slope, my friends. And I’m not just talking about assault rifles here.

According to the FBI’s latest data, rifles of all kinds, including assault rifles, accounted for a mere 3% of the 13,620 firearm deaths in 2020. Let’s be clear: any loss of life is horrific, but plenty of other things out there kill far more people. Let’s take a quick peek, shall we?

Comparing to other factors

What about those speedy motor vehicles? Do we really need cars or motorcycles that can go 200 mph? Speed-related deaths on the road far outnumber homicides caused by assault rifles yearly. Speed plays a significant role in the over 40,000 motor vehicle deaths annually in the United States. Maybe we should ban anything faster than 55 mph and save some lives.

Oh, and let’s not forget about alcohol. Driving under the influence is a significant contributor to motor vehicle deaths. But that’s not all. Excessive alcohol use alone kills around 140,000 people in the US every year. So, should we start talking about a ban on alcohol too? Hold on a sec, didn’t we try that back in the roaring ’20s? Yeah, prohibition didn’t exactly work out like a charm, just like an assault rifle ban probably wouldn’t.

And hey, what about our beloved fast food? Obesity, our unofficial national pastime, is killing a whopping 300,000 Americans each year. The culprit? Yup, you guessed it—artery-clogging junk food. So, should we wave a magic wand and ban all things fast food? Ha! Fat chance.

Let’s not even get started on cigarettes. Those little cancer sticks are responsible for a staggering 480,000 American deaths yearly. So, tell me again, why are we laser-focused on assault rifles while these other killers roam free?

I’m not saying our lawmakers haven’t imposed strict regulations on food labeling, speed limits, DUI laws, and smoking laws. They certainly have. But the thought of sweeping bans like the ones they want for assault rifles? Nope, not happening.

Political motivations

Let’s face it, banning assault rifles is just another political ploy to create the illusion of safety and grab some extra votes. But here’s the unfortunate truth: people with harmful intentions will always find a way, no matter how many laws you throw at them.

Addressing the real issues

Look, I’ll be honest with you. We don’t really “need” assault rifles any more than we need lightning-fast cars or greasy burgers. But since when did “need” become the threshold for what should be allowed? The Second Amendment isn’t about our needs but our right to bear arms.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for common-sense restrictions, background checks and better registration regarding gun ownership. We should differentiate responsible gun owners from potential threats to public safety. And mental health evaluations and firearm safety training? Absolutely.

But here’s the thing: It’s way easier to blame an object, like an assault rifle, than to tackle the deep-rooted societal issues, mental health problems, and drug addiction that contribute to violence. If we genuinely want to make a difference and reduce harm, we must address the underlying issues, not strip away the rights of law-abiding citizens.

So, instead of asking me why I need something, let’s remember our constitutional rights and approach the gun control debate with rationality. It’s time we focus on the real issues and find comprehensive solutions that truly make a difference.

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