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.