What is an “Assault Weapon”?

“Turn In All Assault Rifles and High-Cap Magazines” ~ Sen. Feinstein
November 8, 2012
Carolina Rig shrimp (video)
November 12, 2012

There is a great deal of controversy about the permanent ”Assault Weapons Ban” promised by Obama.  Some gun owners don’t feel threatened by this ban, but armed citizens everywhere need to understand what the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) of 1994 was and the impact it will have on our 2nd Amendment rights as a whole if permanently renewed.

The phrase “Assault Weapons” has no real definition.  It is a gun-banners coined phrase created to hopefully confuse people with “Assault Rifles”.

Now, Assault Rifles are real, and VERY regulated since 1934, and VERY rare in civilians hands since the Gun Control Act of 1986 which banned the ownership of any newly manufactured machine guns.  A true assault rifle is a select-fire (either fully automatic or burst capable) rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. This means when you hold down the trigger, it keeps firing until the magazine is empty.  It is not to be confused with assault weapons.[1]  A real AK47 will cost somewhere upwards of $15,000, a M16 upwards of $25,000.

Politician’s declare that “assault rifles” and AK47s have no place on our streets.  Well Mr. President, that was taken care of in 1934 and again in 1986.  Nobody is shooting anyone with “assault rifles” in gang violence.  The only report I’ve heard in 10 years of an “assault rifle” crime was when the POLICE armory was raided in California a few years ago.  Go figure.

So what about all these full auto videos you see?  Usually those are done with law enforcement departments, type III gun dealers (rentals available), or the very few law abiding citizens who happen to be blessed enough to have invested in a pre-1986 machine gun.  I’m very involved in the gun world, and I only know 2 people (besides LE) that have a pre-1986 firearm, and if you see me shooting them on YouTube, they were present when that happened and it was very legal (and very fun and expensive).

So what are the rifles you see in gun shops that look like “Assault Rifles”?  Those are in fact a civilian version AR-15 type rifle.  It looks like a M16 or AK-47, but that’s it.  It’s simply cosmetics.  Semi-automatic (one trigger pull, one shot) rifles have been around for over 100 years.  This semi-automatic action means that the firearm will cycle itself and load another cartridge into the chamber after firing.  So instead of having to work the bolt by hand every shot the gas/blowback system does it for you.  It simply leaves less work for the marksman to load the next round.  It does not keep firing like a fully automatic assault rifle.

Since there is no such thing as an “assault weapon” what was the ban from 1994-2004?  The ban was on manufacturing new firearms with these cosmetic features:

Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
  • Folding or telescoping stock
  • Pistol grip
  • Bayonet mount
  • Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
  • Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device that enables launching or firing rifle grenades, though this applies only to muzzle mounted grenade launchers and not those mounted externally).
Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
  • Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
  • Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
  • Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold
  • Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
  • A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.
Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:
  • Folding or telescoping stock
  • Pistol grip
  • Fixed capacity of more than 5 rounds
  • Detachable magazine

As you can see, those features really do not change the firearm function by much more than looks.  The 10 year AWB had absolutely no measurable effect on crime according to the CDC, National Institute of Justice, and National Research Council. The only affect it had was on market value, a $25 magazine in 1994 cost almost $100 by 2004 until the bill sunset.  Further, so called “assault weapons” only account for 0.20% of all violent crime nationwide.  It just doesn’t add up.

The scary thing now is Obama wishes to permanently ban all such firearms and more.  He also listed handguns as part of the problem.  So what would the new AWB include?  The “assault weapon” definition is drawn up on a whim, it might even include rocks and pogo sticks if some nut kills somebody with one.  What will we have left?  Nothing if they get their way.  It’s not about “assault weapons”, it’s all about “control” and it starts by banning guns.  They just start with what they can get.

The same rifle, with different accessories. Some would be considered an “Assault Weapon” by politicians, yet it is still the same rifle.


Watch an entertaining video from Chuck Woolery on “Assault Weapons” 


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