Assault weapons have long been a subject of intense controversy. The debate has intensified in recent years after a series of mass shootings in which perpetrators used AR-15 rifles or other military-style weapons, such as the shootings in Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and Parkland While the federal assault weapon ban has expired, some state legislatures have enacted bans. Critics complain that these laws irrationally condemn certain types of firearms simply because they have a military appearance. Gun control advocates argue that these laws are not just about superficial appearances and that the banned weapons are more dangerous than other firearms. This Article contends that even if the controversy over assault weapons ultimately stems from concerns about the look or style of certain firearms, those are not irrelevant considerations. If the military style of assault weapons increases their appeal to disturbed individuals committing the most horrific crimes, and if the intimidating look of these weapons increases the public's perception of the risk of mass shootings, those are legitimate concerns that legislators and judges may take into account.
Allen Rostron, Style, Substance, and the Right to Keep and Bear Assault Weapons, 40 Campbell L. Rev. 301 (2018).