Even the ATF Does Not Know What an “Assault Weapon” Is

(VitalNews.org) – Democrats around the country are banning “assault weapons” but none seems to be able to define what they are.

This week, Washington state passed a ban on more than 29 different kinds of rifles, all of which the state’s new laws call “assault weapons.” But what that means aside from “gun disapproved of by my political tribe” remains a mystery.

It is no clearer at the federal level. The director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) can’t define it either. ATF director Steve Dettelbach told the House Judiciary Committee on April 26th that defining “assault weapon” was a job for Congress. Dettelbach was before the Committee to discuss the ATF’s new rule that would allow certain kinds of stability braces on guns that improve firing accuracy.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked Dettelbach if he knew what an “assault weapon” was. She was referring to a recent shooting in a Buffalo, NY, grocery store.

Dettelbach first responded by saying he wanted to “pay tribute” to the deceased, and then said, “It was an assault weapon that killed them.”

Lee didn’t back down, reiterating that she was asking directly, in yes or no form, whether Dettelbach knew what the term he just invoked actually meant. He demurred, saying he was not qualified to make that definition. 

The back and forth continued for several rounds, with Lee pressing for a definition while Dettelbach deferred to Congress. 

Such arguments will almost certainly continue as gun opponents insist on using the emotionally laden term while at the same time refusing to define it. When definitions are left vague, terms are easier to use for propaganda purposes. While states around the country consider restricting what they call “assault weapons,” there is no agreed-upon definition of that word.

It appears to be used to indicate whichever type of gun has most recently caught the public and the media’s attention through a spree shooting.

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