I was just walking through my house on the way to get some laundry and stopped to admire my AR-15. It is a very good looking rifle in the form follows function mold. Everything has a purpose and they all blend together well.
I wondered, as I walked by, why this particular rifle engenders such hatred by the anti-gun crowd and it occurred to me that it doesn't. It is just the latest popular firearm that they can attack so they have adopted a strategy that works. If there were no AR-15 or other "assault weapons" (a phrase I hate by the way, since it is meaningless and inaccurate as applied by the media and the anti-gunners) then they would be attacking some other aspect of firearms ownership.
The Gun Control Act of 1968. Wasn't an assault rifle to be found unless you count surplus M-1 Garands being sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
1972 Creation of the BATF to regulate and control firearms sales. Still no assault weapons to be found.
During the 80s there was the fake "cop killer bullet" controversy, the fake "plastic gun" controversy, the "Saturday Night Special" ban, none of which were real issues. Cop killer bullets weren't, plastic guns weren't, and the definition of Saturday Night Special basically meant "guns that poor people can afford to buy for protection.
1990 Crime Control Act bans the manufacture and importation of "assault weapons", a phrase that came into use sometime in the 80s. Interesting side note, according to Wikipedia, the only weapons ever referred to by the military as assault weapons were a grenade launcher and a rocket launcher.
Moving on, in 1997 the Brady Law severely restricted the purchase of handguns, in 1999 a bill requiring that a trigger lock be provided with every new firearm passed the Senate, in 2005 California bans sale of .50 caliber rifles. None of these had anything to do with assault weapons (notice that I've gotten tired of including quotation marks, so you can fill those in in your head as you read). Each of the three examples I've provided restricted non assault weapon firearms, either making them harder to get or more expensive (oh, in case you were wondering, a 50 caliber rifle used to cost about $6000 and weighs almost 30 pounds, so not the kind of thing that criminals are generally using to hold up liquor stores and shoot each other).
So when someone brings up the topic of "sensible" gun laws and wonders aloud why anyone "needs" an "assault weapon", you can just ignore them. They were restricting your ability to own a firearm before the phrase assault weapon was even invented to describe a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and other features that make it more comfortable or easier to shoot (you know, things like handgrips, adjustable length shoulder stocks, flash hiders, accessory rails), they haven't stopped trying to keep you from owning any other firearm simultaneously with their attack on assault weapons, and if assault weapons were to magically disappear tomorrow, their "sensible" legislation would still be pushed against every other gun you own.
Just thought you'd like to know.