How is it, then, that “assault weapons” magically transform into “counter-assault weapons” when handled by the police? And how do they revert to “deadly assault weapons” when handled by everyone else?
The fact that people believe that law enforcement may use these weapons demonstrates, of course, that people understand that the weapons have obvious and legitimate utility for defense of home, community and nation. This one fact shows that the guns are not evil of themselves, and do not whisper to their owners, taunting them to shoot children playing at recess or innocent bystanders in drive-by shootings.
This one fact shows that people understand that the responsible use of firearms depends foremost on the purpose and character of the person who wields the weapon. And because we know these things, this discrepancy between how we view police holds the key to understanding what the assault weapon ban is really about.