Military and Police

What’s the Difference Between Assault Weapons and Unicorns? They’re Both Mythical, But You Can Define a Unicorn

There is an iconic scene in the Academy Award-winning movie “Patton,” where the surly American army general (played by George C. Scott) is peering at a North African tank battlefield through binoculars. The general’s tank forces are engaged with legendary German Wehrmacht Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Panzer forces. As it becomes clear that Patton has defeated his German counterpart, he declares, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book.”

General Patton (George C. Scott) was informing his respected military opponent that he’d defeated him because he’d taken the time to know his enemy. This reminded me of the anti-gun left’s discombobulation as they try to battle Second Amendment supporters, including attempts to ban so-called assault weapons. From my research and observations, unlike Patton, the anti-gun left hasn’t read “our book.” And as far as the “magnificent bastard” line goes, the anti-gun radicals qualify for half of that equation. The thing is, even if they read our book, they won’t find the definition they’re looking for.

Currently in Washington State, by corrupting the citizens’ initiative process, anti-gun activists, along with their co-conspirator government officials, passed another oppressive gun law. The first part of the law went into effect on January 1, 2019.

Primarily, the anti-Second Amendment radicals passed this law ostensibly banning certain sales of “assault weapons.” In other words, they ripped a constitutional right, essentially the right to self-defense, from 18- to 20-year-old American men and women. Oddly (or not so oddly if you’re educated on the subject), the anti-gun proponents did not define “assault weapon” in the initial portion of the law.

The definition—whatever that will look like—is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2019. So, currently, the state is requiring gun sellers not to sell weapons for which there is no statutory definition. Sounds about right for the anti-gun radicals.

In fact, a brave gun shop owner, Tiffany Teasdale of Lynnwood Gun in Lynnwood, WA., feels this law is an attack on the Second Amendment. It clearly is, and she says she’ll continue to sell “assault rifles” to 18- to 20-year-olds, at least until the definition is published. She is in good company. Some sheriffs and at least one police chief announced they are refusing to enforce this blatantly unconstitutional state law.

Though I despise the anti-gun onslaught Americans are currently suffering, there is a part of me that can’t wait to read whatever definition they, um…combobulate (hey, that’s a real word, and it probably makes more sense than their definition of “assault weapon” will).

An Ohio bill defined:

[A]n assault weapon as “an automatic firearm that has not been rendered permanently inoperable, a semi-automatic firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine with the capacity to accept ten or more cartridges, and a semi-automatic firearm with a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept ten or more cartridges.

Though the proponents cited the “commonsense” banning of “weapons of war,” the Ohio definition applies to semi-automatic pistols and rifles that combatants would not choose as a primary weapon for war unless automatic weapons were unavailable. Who would like to begin writing the list of guns that qualify as “assault weapons” under this definition? Stock up on food and water, and I’ll come back to check on you in a couple days.

Again, the anti-gun left obviously didn’t read the pro-gun rights “book” before engaging in battle. If they had, they’d have found out it doesn’t contain a specific, technical, or official definition of an “assault weapon.” At least, not the way they’re trying to define it: You know, a scary black gun with accessories that primarily affect its appearance and not its function but that make it look mean. By the way, even the military has no official, technical definition for an “assault weapon.” At least, none that I can find.

Many anti-gun radicals ignorantly conflate semi-automatic with automatic weapons. Last year, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), for example, said such firearms “are not only scary, they’re outright dangerous in the way they can mimic the look and the capacity of a hardened, fully semiautomatic weapon.” He obviously didn’t read the pro-gun rights “book.” “[M]imic the look?” What does that have to do with how a weapon functions? But I do love it when an anti-gun nut sounds like an idiot, so…

Actually, that’s not all that rare, these days, is it?

Despite his wanting to infringe on my Second Amendment rights, I’m going to do Senator Schumer a little favor and explain it one more time: with an automatic weapon, you pull the trigger once and it fires multiple, many, numerous, several, copious, plentiful, abundant, bullets. With a semi-automatic weapon, you pull the trigger once and it fires only one, individual, separate, single, solitary, solo, measly, lonely bullet.

I don’t know what Washington will come up with, but the Ohio definition applies to too many rifles to list without sitting here for days doing research. I know it’s the anti-gun rights folks’ ultimate intention to ban as many guns as possible. But using incrementalism, I don’t think they’re doing it on purpose. That would be giving them too much credit. The fact their definition could apply to so many weapons is, for them, likely a happy accident.

If this type of legislation passes, it could ban most firearms. If they don’t “grandfather” current owners, it could cause a crucial tipping point in not only the controversy but also American history. I don’t know many gun owners willing to relinquish their Second Amendment rights by turning in their weapons, and I don’t know many cops who would force them to.

This is not hyperbole. Go through the scenarios in your head. Anti-gun activists, such as U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), should ask this question: What do you think will happen by making guns or magazines many law-abiding Americans now own illegal overnight? Further, what does it look like when, after patriotic Constitution-supporting gun owners refuse to turn in their firearms, government officials order patriotic Constitution-supporting cops to confiscate those firearms? I’d really like to hear some answers.

Following orders, even orders you don’t like, is something cops do all the time. But following orders that blatantly violate the Constitution is pushing too far. As I once wrote in an article for my police guild newspaper when I was on the job, I would not have complied with an order to confiscate firearms from normally law-abiding people.

Fortunately, state courts struck down reckless anti-gun laws after my city’s inept mayors attempted to circumvent the federal and state constitutions. They only attempted illegal gun bans on city property, but you know they’d have banned and confiscated guns if they could have figured a way to do it.

To show you how all-over-the-place the anti-gun left is, tying themselves into knots trying to define an “assault weapon,” consider what David Kopel of wrote in an essay published in Penn’s Regulatory Review: “My contribution was Defining ‘Assault Weapons.’ Surveying various ‘assault weapon’ laws and bills, the article describes the always-shifting definitions. According to gun ban advocates, ‘assault weapons’ have been claimed to include: air guns and paintball guns; most handguns; all semiautomatic rifles; most shotguns; all slide action shotguns; any semiautomatic the Secretary of Treasury wants to ban; guns listed by name; and guns with certain features, such as adjustable stocks.”

I suppose, in the end, it’s probably good that the anti-gun left refuses to read the pro-gun rights “book.” With all their allies in government, academia, and the media, I wouldn’t want to make their job any easier. Still, even though I appreciate their making such idiots of themselves when they talk about guns, “assault weapon” definitions specifically, my rational side winces at the monumental ignorance displayed by the anti-gun left on gun issues.

One thing I would suggest to pro-gun rights folks is to, as painful as it may be, “read” the anti-gun rights “books”—their words, written and spoken. They betray their ignorance, and even better, they provide pro-gun rights advocates with—wait for it (and pardon the pun)—ammunition.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at

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