Understanding What a 'Military-Style' Rifle is

A number of politicians and other people in the US who are strongly in favor of gun control often use the terms, ‘assault rifle’, ‘assault weapon’, and make reference to ‘military-style rifles’. In most cases, if you pressed them to define the terms, they would either not be able to answer or would answer incorrectly. It is difficult at best to have a meaningful discussion without knowing what the terms mean if they are being used.

First of all, ‘assault weapon‘ is a meaningless term. A rock, club, knife, bomb, rifle, handgun, tank, missile, frying pan, and anything else that is used to assault someone is an assault weapon. This is a term that was invented by the media for the sole purpose of eliciting an emotional response.

An ‘assault rifle‘ has more meaning. This term often refers to a weapon that is used in active combat. An M-16 is an assault rifle, for example. Black powder long-rifles were also assault rifles since they were used in battle in the 1800’s. Technically, though, any rifle that has been or can be used to assault someone is an assault rifle. This would include virtually all rifles.

A ‘military-style‘ rifle is probably the least understood. A military-style rifle isn’t a rifle that is made to look like a military rifle. Military-style means that the rifle is switchable between single-fire and automatic fire. Note that a semi-automatic isn’t the same as an automatic. In a semi-automatic rifle, a shell is fired every time the trigger is squeezed. In an automatic, depressing the trigger results in one shell after another being fired for however long the trigger is depressed until there is no more ammunition left to fire.

A gun-control talking point often equates AR-15’s with military-style rifles. An AR-15 is not a military-style rifle because it has no automatic fire capability, which would be illegal. Gun control advocates often even try to push bans on AR-15’s because they are military-style rifles. What they miss is that not only is an AR-15 not a military-style rifle, but rifles are also not the choice of firearms for committing homicides. Far more handguns are used for that purpose than rifles. The fact that any other kind of rifle is just as capable of killing also means that a ban on AR-15’s will have very little effect on the number of shootings. In fact, bans on rifles in general, wouldn’t have much of an effect. Incidentally, “AR” in AR-15 doesn’t stand for ‘assault rifle’. It stands for “ArmaLite Rifle”. ArmaLite was the company that designed the AR-15. Still, gun bans aren’t about saving innocent lives, they are about “control”.

At any rate, if a rifle doesn’t have an automatic-fire capability, it isn’t a military-style rifle. That includes AR-15’s.

For the record, I don’t own an AR-15, though this is undoubtedly the most popular style of rifle in the US, hence, the real reason gun-control advocates target the AR-15.


What do you think?


Written by Rex Trulove

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    • Yes, they really should know about it. It is the difference between approaching issues and situations logically and rationally, or approaching them emotionally. It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that people who react mostly emotionally are rarely correct in their reactions. They then find themselves backed into a corner and feel the need to use other thinking errors like justification and blame.

    • That’s fine. No one would try to tell you that you must own one. However, in the USA, we have the right to own a gun (except truly automatic rifles) if we wish.

      The problem is that some people want to take that right away. They want to impose their views on the rest of us.

        • No offense intended but that’s on your brother, not the gun. This is why the NRA is so important. Most of their efforts are put into educating people about gun safety.

          Now, if you are afraid of guns I would recommend that you stay away from them. However, the gun is just a tool and you can do a lot of damage to your hand with a hammer also.

          • No offense taken, but yes, my brother is a bit accident prone, my only brother in the world. Haha.

            Yes, I always stay away from guns even this bb gun, or gun with pellets?… yes I stay away from people playing it

          • The same could be said of most other tools, too. My daughter has no problem using a gun because she’s been taught to. However, she will absolutely not use any of my power tools. She isn’t really afraid of the tool, she is afraid of what could very well happen if she tried using any of them because she’s never been taught their proper use.

    • I agree with Gary. I’ve been around guns all my life. My mother and father were both deer hunters and the deer they were able to get provided a majority of the meat on our table, growing up. My father also taught hunter’s safety courses and was a certified instructor. I know the importance of being able to own a firearm and in knowing how to use a firearm safely and responsibly.

      However, I’m very mindful of the fact that some people dislike guns and others are scared of them. There is no reason a person outside of the military or law enforcement should be required to carry or own one. That includes people in the US. It isn’t a requirement. Plus, in the US there are enough people who legally own guns that the non-gun owner should be reasonably be protected. It should be remembered that between 1 and 3 million crimes are prevented every year in the US by legal and responsible gun owners. That’s a lot.

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