P-E-O-P-L-E kill people, not guns. Guns just happen to be the weapon of choice of so many murderers. We have 2 safes full of guns, hand and long and while in our possession, not one of those weapons has loaded itself, snuck out of the house and shot anyone. With that line of thought, I guess forks and spoons are actually what make people fat and not the food they put on them. The guns, spoons and forks are just the delivery system, not the cause.
You are absolutely right that a gun is just a tool but what you're missing is that a gun can be more than just a tool.
Think about tools for a minute and then think about Andy Rooney, late of 60 Minutes fame and his ancient typewriter that he used to write his witty editorials. He could have had the newest laptop with the fanciest word processing program but he held to his manual Royal typewriter circa 1945. Dare I say he loved it.
Think about the kid who drives up in a new high-output Mustang, face beaming because of his pride. Think of the topics we've had on here about folks 'first cars.' One of my first memories was of a friends mother who, strangely to me, had named her car something like Matilda.
Another example would be musicians with their instruments whether it is a horn, keyboard or guitar. Most of us have developed a relationship with our computers to one degree or another and it is not at all uncommon for us to praise or cuss the damn things. Even some mechanics and carpenters can be partial to one tool choosing it over newer and shinier items.
And it would be foolish to think our personification of inanimate objects is limited to those things. It is human nature to attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects and in so doing, it changes our relationships with those objects.
This happens with guns too. Who could forget Al Pacino's line in Scarface ... "Say hello to my little friend."
Would that scene have been as memorable if the 'little friend' were a 32 cal. Beretta?
The point is that weapons perceived to be 'assault weapons' - yes it is largely in the mind of the possessor - seem to provide 'courage' to some people possessing them and 'respect' to others, as if the weapon were some sort of magical talisman. People don't like to admit it, but while Pacino's scene demonstrates the 'courage' aspect, this scene from the 1991 movie (One of my favorites by the way) Grand Canyon, illustrates the 'respect' aspect.
Source: NRA,assault weapons,gun laws