This is a very short diary and just my 2 cents on one aspect of the debate over gun rights and the assault weapons ban.
Many gun enthusiasts have pointed out, correctly, that the main difference between a hunting rifle and an assault rifle has little to do with their ability to cause harm. What really matters is the cartridge capacity of the magazine.
Both semi-automatic hunting rifles and semi-automatic assault rifles, of the same caliber, if limited to the same number of bullets are indistinguishable in how many people they can kill. But that argument misses the point. That argument is deaf to culture and the power of advertising. You can understand this with a simple analogy to the baseball bat and other non-gun items that can be used as weapons.
Unless things have changed since I was a kid, baseball bats often come inscribed with various advertising messages. These messages gave fanciful names to the bat, like "Louisville Slugger," or they referred to beloved baseball teams, sometimes with the image of a mascot. In other words, the messages were all baseball messages, all sports related.
Do you think society should tolerate a baseball bat company marketing a baseball bat that is inscribed with messages like, "Skull Cracker" or "Brain Basher" -- and with a mascot of an organized crime figure bashing the brains out of a victim?
I doubt we would tolerate that.
But that is what an assault weapon is -- a rifle which could be used for sport, but that is styled, inscribed with the message that this weapon, like its military counterpart, is intended to do one thing: kill people. Yes it's only styling, but it's styling with a message.
When a person picks up an assault rifle it puts in his mind a certain idea of what the weapon is for, just as when he picks up a hunting rifle, it puts in his mind the idea of hunting deer or some other game. There is a reason that in most of the recent massacres the perpetrators have used assault weapons and not hunting rifles, even though some hunting rifles would be exactly as effective. When an unstable person wants to go on a gun rampage, he picks up an assault rifle. That's reason enough to ban them.
When I was growing up, we had this same debate over knives. Boys were encouraged to own and carry "Boy Scout Knives" or "Swiss Army Knives" (my how things have changed) which could be used to whittle wood for kindling to make a camp fire or do minor repairs on a bicycle. But we could be hauled into juvenile court for carrying a switch blade -- simply because the design of a switch blade advertised that it was intended to be used in gang fights. All the knives were equally dangerous or useful, but one signaled that it's main use was juvenile violence.
If you wouldn't tolerate a baseball bat inscribed with "Newark Kneebreaker," or "Bensonhurst Basher," why would you tolerate an assault weapon?
(Edited for spelling)