Assault Rifles Don’t Really Exist

Assault Rifles Don’t Really Exist

Many people have blamed the availability of so-called “assault rifles” on the Aurora, Colorado tragedy of 2012.  Gun control advocates loudly proclaim that people own and purchase assault rifles for the sole intent and purpose of killing others, no other reason. But really, what is an assault rifle? Is there any actual definition for one? What is the difference between an assault rifle and a recreational rifle?

The legal definition of an assault rifle is muddy.  The definition of an assault rifle, as defined by the United States Federal government, began with the 1934 Firearm Act, which forbade “A shotgun or rifle having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length, or any other weapon, except a pistol or revolver, from which a shot is discharged by an explosive if such weapon is capable of being concealed on the person, or a machine gun.”

The  1994  Assault Weapons Ban  Law banned rifles that had detachable magazines and two or more of the following characteristics: folding or telescoping stock, protruding pistol grips, bayonet mount, flash suppressor, or threads to attach a suppressor, or a grenade launcher, and also banned the importation of foreign-built rifles having some or all of these characteristics, and it banned the ownership by civilians of high capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds) produced after 1994.

These two laws are the closest to a legal definition that we have available. Many gun-control advocacy groups like to use the term “assault rifle” in reference to a semi-automatic, military-style firearm of any kind. In reality though, this is a slang term.

An assault rifle, according to the gun control website Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is; “A firearm with certain features that make it easier to shoot lots of bullets across a wide area in a short time. Most assault weapons are semi-automatic versions of fully-automatic machine guns designed specifically for the military. Assault weapons can be handguns (like the Uzi or TEC-9) or long guns (like the AR-15 rifle or the Street Sweeper shotgun). Some assault weapon features, like pistol grips, second handgrips, or barrel shrouds, make the gun easier to hold with two hands. This allows the shooter to spray an area with bullets without taking careful aim, and to control the gun without getting burned as the barrel heats up. Other features, like detachable magazines, make it easier to maintain a high rate of fire for an extended period of time. Still others, like flash suppressors, allow the shooter to conceal his position. These features, most of which were specifically designed for the military, are unnecessary for hunting or target shooting.”

That is a long-winded definition based extensively upon looks.

With this definition the CSGV says that a hunting firearm with a pistol grip or a detachable magazine is unnecessary and no one should have them.  According to hunting reviews and forums, some features, particularly the pistol grip, have actually improved the safety and enjoyment levels of a recreational firearm. The definitions on assault rifles are really so vague, that a tricked-out hunting rifle could just as easily be called an assault rifle.

Are these really the characteristics of a tool of terror, or just aspects of a hi-tech recreational toy?

Further Reading:

http://www.jud.ct.gov/ji/criminal/glossary/assaultweapon.htm

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/guntime1.html

http://civilliberty.about.com/od/guncontrol/a/Assault-Weapons.htm

http://www.reference.com/browse/assault+weapon

http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcassaul.html

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