What IS An “Assault Rifle”?

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By Dell Hill

Actually, there’s no such thing. The term “assault rifle” was coined a few years ago by the political left to create an image in your mind that ALL rifles are “assaultive”….and, of course, they’re not, and “assault” would refer to an action taken by the operator, not something the weapon could or would do all by itself. In that regard, I guess a bayonet should be called an “assault knife” because it’s primary use was to stab people to death. But I digress.

Those tricky devils on the left would have you believe that all rifles capable of firing more than one round of ammunition at a time are fully automatic machine guns. Numb­skull, Alan Grayson recently declared one assault rifle was capable of firing over 700 rounds per minute. That’s simply a total lie. 1) You are not physically able to pull a trigger 700 times in one minute. 2) If you could pull a trigger 700 times in one minute, the barrel would heat up so fast it would melt long before that minute was up. 3) There are no 700 round magazines available, so you’d have to stop and replace empty magazines with full ones and that can’t be done instantly, either.

Here’s the deal: Fully automatic firearms will fire all of the ammunition loaded simply by pulling and holding the trigger. If you release the trigger, the weapon stops firing. We call those weapons “machine guns”, and they’re regularly issued to military personnel for use in a war setting. Note: Those shoulder fired weapons have a “selector switch” which allows the shooter to change the firing protocol from automatic to semi­automatic and/or “safe” position. In the “safe” position, the weapon will not fire. In the semi­automatic position the operator can fire one round each time he pulls the trigger. He must release the trigger and then pull it again in order to fire another round. That process must be repeated for every round he fires. In the automatic setting, he can pull and hold the trigger and it will keep firing until he releases the trigger or the ammunition supply is exhausted.

Firearms sold to civilians, by law, are not capable of being fired in the automatic (machine gun) manner, but our political friends on the left would have you believe they are.

Hand­held machine guns are also popular with governmental security agencies, such as the U.S. Secret Service. We got to see the famous UZI deployed when President Ronald Reagan was attacked….But even then they were used in a defensive posture, rather than as an attack, or “assaultive” behavior.

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As for rifles, it’s the appearance of the various makes and calibers that causes them to be called different names. Look at these two weapons.

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Both are semi­automatic .223 caliber rifles. The one on top looks just like a varmint hunting rifle, while the one on the bottom looks like a military weapon. These are basically the SAME weapon, but the bottom one gets called the ugly “assault rifle” because it looks like a military weapon.

It goes without saying that the “AR” in AR­15 stands for ArmaLite, the company that originally patented the weapon’s design. The AR­15 rifle was first built in 1958 by ArmaLite as a selective fire weapon. Since then, it has been produced in many different versions by many different companies in many different countries. By comparison to many far more popular rifles, the .223 caliber model is nowhere near as powerful as the .308 or .30­06 models previously used by military forces.

One thing you might find incredibly interesting…..Of all the panty waists calling for gun control, I strongly suspect that 99% of them have never owned or operated a firearm in their entire life and they don’t know much of anything about them.


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J.M. Browning
J.M. Browning
6 years ago

An “assault rifle” is a very real thing and a real term that has been used for many decades. The one characteristic that all assault rifles have is selective fire, usually meaning safe/semi/auto or safe/semi/burst on modern weapons.

The term “assault weapon” is the invented political term that has no real meaning or clear definition in law but is used by politicians and those who lack understanding.

Smilin' Jack
Smilin' Jack
6 years ago
Reply to  J.M. Browning

You are quite correct. “Assault weapon” is a made-up political term. “Assault rifle” would be used for an assault on a beach-head, for example. A military assault if far different than an assault on a person.

Ed
Ed
6 years ago
Reply to  Smilin' Jack

wikipedia?………………………………………………

redrock
6 years ago

Your comments on the AR-15 and resulting knock offs are very misleading…There are numerous caliber weapons available in the AR series of rifles as supplied by various gun manufacturers, including .308…This rifle was developed as a selective fire weapon for military purposes, not civilian use…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-15

free`
free`
6 years ago
Reply to  redrock

redrock, Did you read the article? The reason I ask is that he mentions the selective fire and different calibers and it was invented for the military in this article.
Relying on wikipidea for information is a huge mistake.

free`
free`
6 years ago

Excellent commentary on rifles.
I just ran across this website while doing a search of “militarization throughout the executive branch of the government”. I read your informative article from May 31, 2004, Obama’s Police Force: Militarized Government Agencies
by S. Noble.
Do you have any plans to do an updated article about what the Executive Branch agencies have done since then?
I have read that the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, The Department of Veterans Affairs, The Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have all been stockpiling arms.