[Ed. – Even though weight, materials, shooting feel, gun features, etc. are actually what savvy buyers are going for. Let’s arbitrarily deny them to civilian buyers so a semiautomatic AR-15 doesn’t “look” too much like an M-16 (or, for the average journalist, an M-4 or any other auto-capable service rifle). Plus, of course, as our feature image indicates, cosmetics don’t limit firepower or all features relevant to gun quality or purchase decisions.]
The frequent objection you hear from opponents of gun control is that efforts to ban certain kinds of guns are merely “cosmetic.” National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke, who knows a lot about guns (and other things), notes that the AR-15 and the AK-47 — frequent targets of gun controllers’ interest — do not differ in “rate of fire” or “muzzle velocity” from the vast majority of guns owned by Americans. Efforts to ban them are therefore purely cosmetic, he argues.
Okay, but isn’t it possible that cosmetics matter? Certainly gun manufacturers act as if they do. They’ve designed guns to look more and more like weapons of war. They are advertised with images of heavily armored soldiers. Some gun ads use language exquisitely attuned to men’s desire for respect and even dominance. “Forces of opposition, bow down,” said one. The AR-15 Bushmaster was marketed with the slogan “Consider your man card reissued.”