Back in 2003 the Violence Policy Center produced a “study” entitled Bullet Hoses: Semiautomatic Assault Weapons—What Are They? What’s So Bad About Them? in anticipation of the 2004 sunset of the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban (that wasn’t). Here are the “10 Key Points” from that paper:
1. Semiautomatic assault weapons (like AK and AR-15 assault rifles and UZI and MAC assault pistols) are civilian versions of military assault weapons. There are virtually no significant differences between them.
2. Military assault weapons are “machine guns.” That is, they are capable of fully automatic fire. A machine gun will continue to fire as long as the trigger is held down until the ammunition magazine is empty.
3. Civilian assault weapons are not machine guns. They are semiautomatic weapons. (Since 1986 federal law has banned the sale to civilians of new machine guns.) The trigger of a semiautomatic weapon must be pulled separately for each round fired. It is a mistake to call civilian assault weapons “automatic weapons” or “machine guns.”
4. However, this is a distinction without a difference in terms of killing power. Civilian semiautomatic assault weapons incorporate all of the functional design features that make assault weapons so deadly. They are arguably more deadly than military versions, because most experts agree that semiautomatic fire is more accurate—and thus more lethal—than automatic fire.
5. The distinctive “look” of assault weapons is not cosmetic. It is the visual result of specific functional design decisions. Military assault weapons were designed and developed for a specific military purpose—laying down a high volume of fire over a wide killing zone, also known as “hosing down” an area.
6. Civilian assault weapons keep the specific functional design features that make this deadly spray-firing easy. These functional features also distinguish assault weapons from traditional sporting guns.
7. The most significant assault weapon functional design features are: (1) ability to accept a high-capacity ammunition magazine, (2) a rear pistol or thumb-hole grip, and, (3) a forward grip or barrel shroud. Taken together, these are the design features that make possible the deadly and indiscriminate “spray-firing” for which assault weapons are designed. None of them are features of true hunting or sporting guns.
8. “Spray-firing” from the hip, a widely recognized technique for the use of assault weapons in certain combat situations, has no place in civil society. Although assault weapon advocates claim that “spray-firing” and shooting from the hip with such weapons is never done, numerous sources (including photographs and diagrams) show how the functional design features of assault weapons are used specifically for this purpose.
9. Unfortunately, most of the design features listed in the 1994 federal ban—such as bayonet mounts, grenade launchers, silencers, and flash suppressors—have nothing to do with why assault weapons are so deadly. As a result, the gun industry has easily evaded the ban by simply tinkering with these “bells and whistles” while keeping the functional design features listed above.
10. Although the gun lobby today argues that there is no such thing as civilian assault weapons, the gun industry, the National Rifle Association, gun magazines, and others in the gun lobby enthusiastically described these civilian versions as “assault rifles,” “assault pistols,” “assault-type,” and “military assault” weapons to boost civilian assault-weapon sales throughout the 1980s. The industry and its allies only began to use the semantic argument that a “true” assault weapon is a machine gun after civilian assault weapons turned up in inordinate numbers in the hands of drug traffickers, criminal gangs, mass murderers, and other dangerous criminals.
And the summation:
The plain truth is that semiautomatic assault weapons look bad because they are bad. They were designed and developed to meet a specific military goal, which was killing and wounding as many people as possible at relatively short range as quickly as possible, without the need for carefully aimed fire. In short, they are ideal weapons for war, mass killers, drug gangs, and other violent criminals.
So, to emphasize the VPC’s assertions and conclusions:
1. There is no difference between semi-automatic and fully-automatic versions of the same weapon, except somehow the semi-automatic civilian versions are “are arguably more deadly than military versions”. (Someone should inform the Pentagon. And Congress. We need the 1986 ban on new machine guns lifted, since they’re safer than semi-autos.)
2. The sole purpose of these weapons is “killing and wounding as many people as possible at relatively short range as quickly as possible, without the need for carefully aimed fire”
3. There is “no place in civil society” for these weapons.
So why does pretty much every police officer in the country have one in his vehicle?
I saw that this morning at the Circle K. From the looks of it, not only is it one of those eeeeevil “bullet hoses,” but it’s a short-barreled bullet hose, one that we mere civilians cannot own without jumping through a bunch of legal hoops. I couldn’t tell if it was one of the less-lethal fully-automatic bullet hoses, as the safety was obscured by the locking mechanism that keeps it secured to the motorcycle, but I wouldn’t doubt it.
I don’t get it – if bullet hoses and high-capacity magazines are so damned dangerous, why don’t we restrict our police departments to six-shot revolvers? I mean, if they really need something terrifyingly lethal, why not follow Joe Biden’s advice and get a double-barreled twelve gauge shotgun?