Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed the state’s so-called assault weapon ban into law. Cam wrote about that on Tuesday. It basically bans the sale of AR-15s and similar rifles almost immediately, as well as a lot of other firearms.
I’m not going to talk so much about that, nor about the legal challenges that are already underway that may well shut down the whole thing before it really gets going.
No, I want to talk about a particular comment Inslee made.
Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, pushed for the gun control package.
With the governor’s signature, Washington becomes the 10th state to adopt an “assault weapons” ban.
“No one needs an AR-15 to protect your family,” Inslee said while surrounded by family members of shooting victims. “You only need it to kill other families.”
This is problematic, to say the least. Why? Because that’s not Inslee’s call.
Rights don’t work that way. The government doesn’t get to determine what your needs are and only permits you to have those which conform with what the government thinks you need.
One didn’t need to voice questions about the government’s response to COVID-19. One didn’t need to voice concerns about the invasion of Iraq. One doesn’t need a house with more bedrooms than people. One doesn’t need to invest in the stock market. No one needs a Facebook or Twitter account.
The list of things you don’t necessarily need goes on and on.
Yet it’s only the ownership of something like an AR-15 that’s controversial for some reason.
However, in all of these cases, it’s not the government’s place to determine need. That’s up to you, and since you have the right to do as you wish in all of these cases, the need becomes irrelevant.
Owning an AR-15 is no different.
Inslee says you don’t need one to protect your family, only to kill other families. That’s a bizarre take for the most popular rifle in the United States, yet one that is rarely used in homicides.
Seriously, in 2021–a bad year for murders–rifles in total accounted for fewer than 500 homicides. Those weren’t all AR-15s, either.
And that’s out of nearly 26,000 homicides.
Plus, if they’re only “needed” to kill families, why do so many police departments have arsenals of the weapons?
What’s more, Inslee can’t guarantee that no one needs an AR-15 to defend their families. We’ve seen instances when people likely did need that weapon when they defended themselves.
Then there’s the fact that not everyone is comfortable firing a handgun or shotgun, but an AR-15 or similar rifle can be adjusted to fit the shooter as needed. As such, even if there are alternatives available, someone may well determine for themselves that the AR-15 best fits their family’s requirements.
Or “needs,” if you prefer.
On every level we care to look, Inslee’s comment–one that he didn’t originate by any measure–isn’t appropriate, warranted, or even accurate.
Our rights are what they are. Our needs are what they are. Yet our needs don’t determine our rights. Our rights exist independently of our needs.
It’s a lesson Inslee would do well to learn before someone else decides what he needs and what he doesn’t, regardless of how he feels about it.