Why exactly do people need an assault weapon? It isn't for hunting. Maybe we should just all carry guns all the time. That way if there is a shooter we can easily take him out....I mean it may make the cops life more difficult, not knowing who the bad guy is in that situation or cause some friendly fire deaths but hey....we'll have our guns...I just don't get it.I think it's a fair question and as such deserves a fair answer. Anonymous, the simple answer is that there is no real difference between types of guns. All firearms are purpose-designed machines — they are all designed to fire projectiles long distances; they are all designed to be ergonomic and easy to use; they are all designed to be accurate, easy to load and to reload. They are not particularly complicated machines, without will and capable of being used by their operators for great good or great evil.
Sometimes we sort those machines in groups, usually by their gross physical characteristics, to make it easier to talk about them...handgun...rifle...shotgun, etc. "Assault weapons" is one of those categories, and it applies to military weapons designed for war. As a civilian, we cannot legally possess assault weapons...they are automatic weapons, designed to fire a full magazine of ammunition on a single trigger pull.
There are firearms that share some of the physical characteristics of military weapons in the same way that a family sedan might share a paint job with a NASCAR stocker or that a John Elway football jersey at a discount store might resemble the team jersey that great quarterback wore when he was playing. Because one thing looks like another, it doesn't mean the replica is the real thing. Your family sedan will not win at Daytona because it has the right paint job, and you are not a Hall of Fame quarterback because you wear the jersey.
Our enemies, however, have seized upon those physical similarities to create a false class of "assault weapons" and seek to have them banned or heavily controlled. Remember, the firearms in question are not more powerful, easier to shoot, hold more bullets or are in any way different from other firearms...except in they way they look. Our enemies want to control this false class of firearms solely because they seek to control — and ultimately eliminate — all firearms in civilian hands. They have been every open in describing this strategy...it's hardly a secret. Even the largest antigun groups said of the last AWB that it was not designed to have an effect on crime, but rather to get the public "acclimated" to having whole classes of firearms banned.
Simply put, an attack on one class of firearms, or one specific firearm, is an attack on firearms rights as a whole. Our enemies understand that; if we fail to understand that, we will lose.
If I may also speak to your question of "need." In a consumer society, we are not obligated to demonstrate need to own any legal product. That's why there are 60 brands of toothpaste and a whole aisle of the supermarket filled with different brands and styles of bread. And unlike toothpaste and bread, firearms are protected by the Constitution as most recently stated in the Supreme Court decision on Heller.
The reason the Founders chose to list firearms rights as second only to the right of free speech is that armed citizens represent the ultimate check and balance against the excesses of government. Ultimately, we all love our country, yet fear our government, and the Founders were wise enough to include a "fail safe" in the Bill of Rights. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski said it far more eloquently than I ever could:
But the simple truth -- born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. Our own sorry history bears this out: Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks' homes for weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without judicial process. See Robert J. Cottrol & Raymond T. Diamond, The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration, 80 Geo. L.J. 309, 338 (1991). In the North, by contrast, blacks exercised their right to bear arms to defend against racial mob violence. Id. at 341- 42. As Chief Justice Taney well appreciated, the institution of slavery required a class of people who lacked the means to resist. See Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 417 (1857) (finding black citizenship unthinkable because it would give blacks the right to "keep and carry arms wherever they went"). A revolt by Nat Turner and a few dozen other armed blacks could be put down without much difficulty; one by four million armed blacks would have meant big trouble.
All too many of the other great tragedies of history -- Stalin's atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few -- were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. See Kleinfeld Dissent at 5997-99. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.
My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees*. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten. Despite the panel's mighty struggle to erase these words, they remain, and the people themselves can read what they say plainly enough:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.