Professor Robert Spitzer of SUNY Cortland posted an op-ed to the LA. Times* last week seeking to explain why so-called “assault weapons”—a factually erroneous, if common term for firearms that look like military firearms—have become so popular among Americans, especially in recent years.

Spitzer’s imprecision with nomenclature throughout the opinion piece is distracting as he bounces back and forth from “assault weapon” to “AR-15” to “assault rifle” as if they refer to the same firearms, and frankly, we expect better from someone who has written five books about firearms.

For the record:

  • an “assault rifle” is a precise military term for a selective-fire, intermediate-caliber rifle which originated with the WWII development of the German StG 44 (literally “storm rifle 44”), which was developed to storm or assault enemy positions.
  • an “assault weapon” is an entirely political term coined by gun control fanatic Josh Sugarmann in the 1980s. The phrase was intentionally coined to confuse and deceive non-gun owners into thinking that guns that cosmetically resemble military firearms are machine guns.
  • an AR-15 is a semi-automatic (self-loading) light rifle that uses some of the energy expended from firing a shot to eject the expended shell casing, and to load the next cartridge in the magazine. It fires a very small caliber bullet (.223″) at a relatively high velocity. It resembles and has parts commonality with it’s military cousins, the M16 rifle and and M4 carbine, both of which are legitimate assault rifles.

Th core of Spitzer’s editorial makes the argument that Americans are buying “assault weapons” for the following reasons:

  • “First, assault weapons acquisition has become a form of political expression.”
  • “Second, some buy these weapons because of their enticement as ‘forbidden fruit.'”
  • “The third reason appears everywhere, yet hides in plain sight. To some, assault weapons, especially with larger-capacity magazines, are fun to shoot — a fact hardly lost on gun advocates.”

Professor Spitzer, while not entirely wrong, misses the the largest and most obvious reason that Americans are buying firearms suited for contemporary militia use.

Washington, DC


A large and growing percentage of the American citizenry—laughably far more than the one percent that the good professor hypothesized—are buying magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifles because they do not trust the federal government, and what appears to be regular and growing abuses of power far in excess of their constitutional authority.

It really is that simple, folks.

American government—indeed, every government in human history—inevitably creeps towards tyranny. It is in the parasitical nature of government to leach power and individual liberty from the citizenry. Our Founding Fathers knew this clearly. They embraced Locke’s views on the Right of Revolution, and decided to go to war against a tyrannical government to reassert their sacred liberty when the government became too corrupt and overbearing to be reformed from within.

We live in a time where a significant portion of the citizenry feels that all three branches of the federal government—executive, legislative, and judicial—have gone astray, and now exist to increase their own power, instead of to serve the citizenry.

Many citizens feel the same way about their state governments as well, which may be why more than 85% of “assault weapon” owners in New York and Connecticut refused to register their firearms when ordered to do so by their governments, and frankly dared the state to attempt confiscation.

Why are we buying firearms of contemporary militia utility?

Because many feel that we’re getting closer and close to a time that they will be needed to force regime change and restore liberty.

Scoff at those beliefs as folly if you wish, but you do so at your own peril.



* In the interests of full disclosure: the author is also an Los Angeles Times op-ed contributor.