The essence of the “weapon of choice” argument is that, because criminals and madmen use these guns to commit crimes, the law- abiding must give them up. But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow.
By criminalizing an act that is not wrong in itself the purchase and sale of a firearm the ban violates the presumption of innocence, the principle that insures that government honors the liberty of its citizens until their deeds convict them. By completely banning the sale of assault weapons to prevent crime before it occurs, the law effectively and irrebuttably presumes that all who want such a weapon are no better than murderers or madmen, forever ineligible to acquire these firearms.
Obviously, a law which restricts the liberty of the innocent because of the behavior of the guilty, that rests on principle that the conduct of criminals dictates the scope of liberty the law will allow to the rest of society, in no sense “fights” crime. It is, instead, a capitulation to crime, born of a society in full-bore retreat from crime, a society fearful of and desperately accommodating itself to crime.
This same argument can be used against almost any law that presumes to “prevent crime” rather than punish acts which injury others. I’m specifically thinking of I-594 in Washington state but the application is far broader.—Joe]