The Department of Homeland Security, in a public solicitation for a “personal defense weapon” describes what would otherwise be called an “assault rifle” if owned by a civilian.
The solicitation, which was posted on June 7, 2012, describes the qualities of a firearm designed for personal defense. The solicitation’s “Statement of Work” defines the desired firearm as “Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) – 5.56x45mm NATO, select-fire firearm suitable for personal defense use in close quarters and/or when maximum concealment is required.”
Select-fire, which would enable someone to use the gun in automatic fire mode, is already prohibited to the general public.
The proposal also requires a feature that would land the gun on Senator Feinstein’s list of banned weapons, the pistol grip. The requirements of a government authorized PDW state, “The pistol grip shall be a fixed, vertical pistol grip constructed of a durable material.”
The pistol grip is a cosmetic feature and does not affect the functioning of the gun.
Another feature of a government PDW is the magazine size. The proposal requires “The magazine shall have a capacity to hold thirty (30) 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.”
Senator Feinstein’s “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013” would prohibit magazines that hold 11 or more rounds.
It’s completely reasonable for the government to have select-fire firearms with pistol grips and 30-round magazines. The Department of Homeland security needs to keep us safe from enemies both foreign and domestic that seek to do us harm within our borders.
It is also completely reasonable for the government to keep in place the restrictions that currently regulate civilian ownership of automatic firearms.
What seems completely out of place is when a civilian wants to own a semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip and a magazine with a capacity greater than ten rounds, it is labeled an “assault rifle.” But when a government employee needs a gun for personal protection, that has substantially more firepower than a civilian owned firearm, it is a “personal defense weapon.”
Presupposing a firearm in the hands of a civilian is for the purpose of assault is intentionally prejudicial to the concept of personal freedom.
“What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Juliet asked Romeo. Naming a firearm an “assault rifle” is to declare it a tool for the sole purpose of committing illegal acts.
Implied intent to commit a crime, that is what’s in a name. So, when is a personal defense weapon an assault rifle? When you own it.