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The Colt AR-15 carbine is a semi-automatic rifle chambered for fixed centerfire ammunition that fires one round each time the trigger is pulled. The weapon features a pistol grip and a flash suppressor.

Assault weapon is a term used in the United States to define some types of firearms.[1] The definition varies among regulating jurisdictions but usually includes semi-automatic firearms chambered for centerfire ammunition with a detachable magazine, a pistol grip and sometimes other features such as a vertical forward grip, flash suppressor or barrel shroud.[1][2] Some firearms are specified by name.[3] At the time that the now-defunct Federal Assault Weapons Ban passed in 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice said, "In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use."[3] The origin of the term has been attributed to legislators, gun control groups and the media.[1][4][5][6][7] It is sometimes conflated with the term "assault rifle", which refers to selective-fire military rifles that can fire in automatic or burst mode.[5]

After the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, many news organizations ran stories about assault weapons, explaining their varying definitions and presenting varying opinions about whether they should be banned again at the federal level.[1][5][8][9]

Definitions and usage

Drawing from federal and state law definitions, the term assault weapon refers primarily to semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns that are able to accept detachable magazines and possess one or more other features.[2][10][11] Some jurisdictions define revolving cylinder shotguns as assault weapons.[12][13] Legislative definitions do not include fu

Assault weapon is a term used in the United States to define some types of firearms.[1] The definition varies among regulating jurisdictions but usually includes semi-automatic firearms chambered for centerfire ammunition with a detachable magazine, a pistol grip and sometimes other features such as a vertical forward grip, flash suppressor or barrel shroud.[1][2] Some firearms are specified by name.[3] At the time that the now-defunct Federal Assault Weapons Ban passed in 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice said, "In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use."[3] The origin of the term has been attributed to legislators, gun control groups and the media.[1][4][5][6][7] It is sometimes conflated with the term "assault rifle", which refers to selective-fire military rifles that can fire in automatic or burst mode.[5]

After the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, many news organizations ran stories about assault weapons, explaining their varying definitions and presenting varying opinions about whether they should be banned again at the federal level.[1][5][8][9]

Other researchers have found evidence to suggest that the firearms industry itself may have introduced the term "assault weapon" to build interest in new product lines.[9]<

Other researchers have found evidence to suggest that the firearms industry itself may have introduced the term "assault weapon" to build interest in new product lines.[9] Phillip Peterson, the author of Gun Digest Buyer’s Guide to Assault Weapons (2008) wrote:

[7]

Meanwhile many gun rights activists have put forward that the term originated from the media or gun c

Meanwhile many gun rights activists have put forward that the term originated from the media or gun control activists. Conservative writer Rich Lowry said that assault weapon is a "manufactured term".[24] Joseph P. Tartaro of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) wrote in 1994: "One of the key elements of the anti-gun strategy to gull the public into supporting bans on the so-called 'assault weapons' is to foster confusion. As stated previously, the public does not know the difference between a full automatic and a semi-automatic firearm."[4] Robert Crook, executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, said "the term 'assault weapon,' as used by the media, is a media invention."[6]

Seven states have assault weapon bans with different definitions and characteristics.[25]

  • California defines assault weapons by name, by "series" (AK or AR-15), and by characteristic.[26] A shotgun with a revolving cylinder is also defined as an assault weapon.[12]
  • Connecticut defines assault weapons as selective-fire firearms (including assault rifles capable of fully automatic or burst fire

    In Illinois, proposed legislation in 2013 would have defined the term "semi-automatic assault weapon" as any semi-automatic firearm able to accept a detachable magazine, but it was never brought to a vote.[33][34] The Illinois State Rifle Association said most of the state's firearms owners owned one or more guns that would have been banned under the proposal.[35] The NRA said the proposal would have restricted about 75 percent of handguns and 50 percent of long guns in circulation.[35] As municipalities, Chicago and Cook County bans certain firearms defined as assault weapons and have no provision for legal possession of firearms owned before their laws were passed.[36][37] Minnesota also defines certain firearms as assault weapons and regulates their sales.[27]

    Distinction from assault rifles

    The term "assault rifle" is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "assault weapon". According to the Associated Press Stylebook, "although the terms are often used interchangeably, some make the distinction that assault rifle is a military weapon with a selector switch for firing in either fully automatic or semi-automatic mode from a detachable, 10- to 30-round magazine."[38] Civilian ownership of machine guns, including selective-fire rifles, has been tightly regulated since 1934 under the National Firearms Act and since 1986 under the Firearm Owners Protection Act.[11]

    Cosmetic features

    Gun control advocates and gun rights advocates have referred to at least some of the features outlined in assault weapons bans as "cosmetic". The NRA Institute for Legislative Action and the Violence Policy Center both used the term in 2004 when the federal ban expired.[39][40] In May 2012, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, "the inclusion in the list of features that were purely cosmetic in nature created a loophole that allowed manufacturers to successfully circumvent the law by maki

    The term "assault rifle" is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "assault weapon". According to the Associated Press Stylebook, "although the terms are often used interchangeably, some make the distinction that assault rifle is a military weapon with a selector switch for firing in either fully automatic or semi-automatic mode from a detachable, 10- to 30-round magazine."[38] Civilian ownership of machine guns, including selective-fire rifles, has been tightly regulated since 1934 under the National Firearms Act and since 1986 under the Firearm Owners Protection Act.[11]

    Cosmetic features

    Gun control advocates and gun rights ad

    Gun control advocates and gun rights advocates have referred to at least some of the features outlined in assault weapons bans as "cosmetic". The NRA Institute for Legislative Action and the Violence Policy Center both used the term in 2004 when the federal ban expired.[39][40] In May 2012, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, "the inclusion in the list of features that were purely cosmetic in nature created a loophole that allowed manufacturers to successfully circumvent the law by making minor modifications to the weapons they already produced."[41] Some reporters used the term in stories after the 2012 shootings in Aurora, Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary School.[42][43]

    Assault weapons, also sometimes called "black guns" or "black rifles",[44] are no more powerful than many other semi-automatic rifles legally used for hunting throughout the United States; they do not shoot faster or have gre

    Assault weapons, also sometimes called "black guns" or "black rifles",[44] are no more powerful than many other semi-automatic rifles legally used for hunting throughout the United States; they do not shoot faster or have greater range.[45]

    Two scholars have written: "One problem inherent in the study of [assault weapons (AW)] is that the classifications of AW are based on cosmetic features of firearms... For instance, the Colt AR-15 series of semi-automatic rifles—the civilian version of the fully automatic M-16 rifle issued to U.S. soldiers—was subject to the 1994 AW restrictions, but the Ruger Mini-14 rifle was not banned. Yet, the Mini-14 is the same caliber, has a similar barrel length, the same semi-automatic action, and can use magazines that hold 30 rounds of ammunition. The only real meaningful difference between the two firearms is cosmetic: The AR-15 rifle looks more dangerous."[46]

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade group, states that the term assault weapon has been misapplied to many semi-automatic firearms because of their appearance and not their use in crime.[47]

    Prominent gun-control groups that support restrictions on ownership of firearms include the Brady Campaign[48] and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.[49] Prominent opponents of assault-weapons bans include the National Rifle Association[50] and Gun Owners of America.[51] In 2002, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and Jim Baker said "assault weapons" is a pejorative term.[52] The National Shooting Sports Foundation considers it a politically driven catchphrase aimed to conflate non-automatic weapons with full-automatic assault rifles.[47]

    As of 2012, there are an estimated 2.5–3.7 million rifles from just the AR-15 family of rifles in civilian use in the United States; the total number of assault weapons in the United States among all types is not known, and can not be known because of the different definitions in different jurisdictions.[53]

    Defunct U.S. Federal Assault Weapons Ban

    The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, more commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, expired in 2004. It banned the manufacture or importation of certain semi-automatic firearms that it defined as "semiautomatic assault weapons", commonly known as assault weapons. Any firearms so defined that were already possessed at the time the law took effect were grandfathered in, and could be legally owned or transferred. Another aspect of the law banned the manufacture or importation of magazines that could hold more than ten rounds of ammunition, with existing magazines grandfathered in as legal.[14]

    The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 defined certain firearms as assault weapons based on the features they possessed. This included semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine and at least two of these features: a pistol grip, a folding or telescoping stock, a flash suppressor or threaded barrel, a bayonet mount, or a muzzle-mounted grenade launcher. It included semi-automatic pistols with a detachable magazine and at least two of these features: a magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip, a threaded barrel, a barrel shroud, or an unloaded weight of 50 ounces or more. Additionally defined as assault weapons were semi-automatic shotguns with a rotating cylinder, or with at least two of these features: a pistol grip, a folding or telescoping stock, a detachable magazine, or a fixed magazine that can hold more than five rounds.[11][14]

    The ban also prohibited 19 specifically named models of firearms, as well as copies of those guns. These included the AK-47, Uzi, Galil, AR-15, FN FAL, MAC-10, Steyr AUG, TEC-9, and Armsel Striker.[11][14]

    Failed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 bill

    On December 16, 2012, two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Senator Dianne Feinstein said she would introduce a new assault weapons ban on the first day of Congress.[54] Five days later, on December 21, Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, held a news conference repeating the NRA's opposition to additional gun laws.[55][56] Feinstein and Senator Richard Blumenthal held a separate news conference in response.AR-15 family of rifles in civilian use in the United States; the total number of assault weapons in the United States among all types is not known, and can not be known because of the different definitions in different jurisdictions.[53]

    The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, more commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, expired in 2004. It banned the manufacture or importation of certain semi-automatic firearms that it defined as "semiautomatic assault weapons", commonly known as assault weapons. Any firearms so defined that were already possessed at the time the law took effect were grandfathered in, and could be legally owned or transferred. Another aspect of the law banned the manufacture or importation of magazines that could hold more than ten rounds of ammunition, with existing magazines grandfathered in as legal.[14]

    The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 defined certain firearms as assault weapons based on the features they possessed. This included semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine and at least two of these features: a pistol grip, a folding or telescoping stock, a rifles with a detachable magazine and at least two of these features: a pistol grip, a folding or telescoping stock, a flash suppressor or threaded barrel, a bayonet mount, or a muzzle-mounted grenade launcher. It included semi-automatic pistols with a detachable magazine and at least two of these features: a magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip, a threaded barrel, a barrel shroud, or an unloaded weight of 50 ounces or more. Additionally defined as assault weapons were semi-automatic shotguns with a rotating cylinder, or with at least two of these features: a pistol grip, a folding or telescoping stock, a detachable magazine, or a fixed magazine that can hold more than five rounds.[11][14]

    The ban also prohibited 19 specifically named models of firearms, as well as copies of those guns. These included the AK-47, Uzi, Galil, AR-15, FN FAL, MAC-10, Steyr AUG, TEC-9, and Armsel Striker.[11][14]

    This Ruger 10/22 rifle with a pistol grip and a folding stock was classified as an assault weapon under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

  • An Intratec TEC-DC9 with a 32-round magazine. This semi-automatic pistol has a threaded barrel and a magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip, two of t

    An Intratec TEC-DC9 with a 32-round magazine. This semi-automatic pistol has a threaded barrel and a magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip, two of the features listed in the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

Failed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 bill