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assault weapons are not assault rifles

This is an assault rifle: 

assaultrifle

This is an “assault weapon”: 

assaultweapon

Can you spot what makes one an “assault rifle” and one an “assault weapon”?  I will give you a few hints: it is not the stock, the pistol grip, the sights, the barrel length, or the fact that the top one has a flat-top upper receiver. 

Nope, the answer is quite simple: assault rifles are capable of fully-automatic fire, while the bottom rifle is not. 

What does “fully-automatic fire” mean?  In short, if you were to pull and hold the trigger on the top rifle with its safety selector switch set to “auto” (as it is now), more than one bullet would come out.  It could should three bullets, it could shoot five bullets, and it could empty the magazine (the setting depends on the gun, the application, and the end user’s desires), but the point is more than one round would be discharged. 

The bottom rifle has no such capacity.  You can pull and hold that trigger until Ragnarok, and only a single bullet will ever come out of its barrel. 

As such, “assault weapons”, like that AR-15 (the rifle on the bottom) cannot be “assault rifles” (the M4 on top), because every single “assault weapon” ban I am familiar with defines the rifle variation of “assault weapons” as “a semi-automatic rifle that has…”.  Semi-automatic rifles cannot be fully-automatic, though fully-automatic rifles can be semi-automatic. 

In the end, “assault weapons” are made-up boogey-men, fabricated by anti-rights cultists and politicians (but I largely repeat myself) in order to demonize the second firearm by saying it looks like the first.  This is true, but regulating firearms based on aesthetic features is simply idiotic, does not keep people from getting “military-style” hardware, and does not stop people from buying even more powerful and capable rifles

In the end, if you cannot accurately articulate the difference between assault rifles and “assault weapons”, you have no business calling for a new “assault weapon” ban, or any form of “gun control”, for that matter.  Ignorance is not the superior arguing position, nor should new legislation be based out of it. 

5 comments to assault weapons are not assault rifles

  • Pyrotek85

    But we can call the bottom one auto-loading, which sounds scary and would further confuse the public.

  • Scott

    assault: to attack, to charge, to rush. The intent lies in the person not the object. Therefore, my rifle is an defense rifle because my intent is to defend myself and family. Whereas no matter the weapon James Holmes and Adam Lanza chose it was an assault weapon.

  • Braden Lynch

    I protest! If we required politicians and advocacy groups to actually be knowledable about a subject and be aware of clear unintended consequences before making legislative proposals, than the sum total of new laws could be counted on one hand.

    Throw in a condition that politicians would be fully subjected to these same laws (no exemptions) and we would have 2 new laws per year.

    Ah, wouldn’t that be nice.

  • MAJMike

    Of the firearms I own, only the Kar98 has participated in the killing of humans. That hasn’t occured since I’ve owned it, but as it was manufactured in 1937 and was captured on the Eastern Front, I may safely assume that it has been used to kill.

    That said, none of the other firearms I own have killed as many people as Ted Kennedy’s Oldsmobile.

  • @ Pyrotek85: Point, but that is part of the “automatic” concept – it does “automatically” feed itself, but it does not automatically discharge itself as well. Unfortunately, that distinction requires people to learn more about firearms than most of them are willing to.

    @ Scott: Precisely. As the saying on Twitter goes, “assault” describes an action, not an object.

    @ Braden Lynch: I have always maintained that for every law past, an old one must be repealed. Eventually, the whole system would seize up.

    @ MAJMike: I am not sure about either of my Mosins (one looks almost entirely un-shot, so I can at least guess about it) or my Springfield Trapdoor, but those three rifles aside, my guns have participated in the murder of fewer people than Obama’s administration. I can live with that.



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