From the pro-gun-restriction Violence Policy Center, back in 1988, near the dawn of the “assault weapons” debate (emphasis added):

[A]ssault weapons are quickly becoming the leading topic of America’s gun control debate and will most likely remain the leading gun control issue for the near future. Such a shift will not only damage America’s gun lobby, but strengthen the handgun restriction lobby for the following reasons:

But the Violence Policy Center also noted the political danger of proposing assault weapons bans, especially coupled with proposing handgun restrictions:

America’s handgun restriction movement has been cautious in its response to the assault weapons debate. Their reticence is understandable. By moving against a category of firearm that is not only a long gun, but difficult to define, they run the risk of appearing to prove the gun lobby right: that is, that handgun restrictions are merely the first step down the aforementioned slippery slope.

Keep these frank statements in mind if you hear people wondering why some allegedly “alarmist,” “nutty,” or “paranoid” gun rights supporters worry that bans on so-called “assault weapons” are just an attempt to help promote broader bans (such as on handguns).