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Tom Swiss

If you're going to talk about guns, please please please get the basic facts right.

"Assault rifles" are medium-power rifles capable of automatic fire. According to the U.S. Army, "Assault rifles are short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachinegun and rifle cartridges." ]

"Selective-fire" here means being able to select either automatic (pulling the trigger once fires multiple rounds) or semi-automatic (pulling the trigger once fires one round, loads the next round, and cocks the mechanism) operation. Basically, any modern firearm that is not a revolver or pump-action shotgun is semi-automatic; break-action, bolt-action, and lever-action guns appear in only a handful of niche uses or in the hands of historical re-enactors. Automatic weapons, OTOH, are what people think of when they think of "machine guns".

"Assault rifles" can, by definition, be switched between these two modes of operation. They are, and have been for some time, illegal for civilians without special licenses.

"Assault weapons" are semi-automatic firearms -- i.e., modern firearms -- with cosmetic features that remind fearful and ignorant people too much of actual assault rifles. What makes an "assault weapon" has nothing to do with the firing mechanism, it's based on features like a pistol grip or a bayonet lug. (Not a bayonet, mind you, but a piece of steel that facilitates the attachment of a bayonet.)

The term "assault weapon" was deliberately introduced by dishonest gun prohibitionists to muddy the waters, and has become a favorite of politicians who like to look "tough on crime" with pointless infringements on self-defense rights. It's much easier and far more dramatic to pass a ban on ugly guns than to actually address the socioeconomic root causes of violent crime. (See )

Regardless of one's opinions on the topic of firearms rights, surely honest people on all sides can agree that factual accuracy is important. Please don't misuse the term "assault rifle".

(And of course "weapons of mass destruction" are bombs and the like, and do not include firearms, no matter how much prohibitionists are fond of that (bad) comparison...but we'll file that under rhetorical overreach rather than ignorance or attempt to mislead.)

jj fad

Thanks, Tom.

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