"Assault weapon" is an invented term. In the firearm lexicon, there is no such thing as an "assault weapon".
The closest relative is the "assault rifle", which is basically a machine gun that fires rifle cartridges. The authoritative
source is the Department of Defense Small Arms Identification and Operations Guide: Assault rifle is defined as "short, compact,
select-fire weapon that fires a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges" - i.e. a machine
An "assault weapon", in its true definition, is any weapon that is used in an assault. Gun control advocates,
however, have given this term a whole new meaning. For them to explain that meaning is very difficult, however, because they
either have to show that they don't know what they're talking about, or they have to lie. They will often refer to an "assault
weapon" as a "semi-automatic machine gun", or a "street sweeper". This is like calling bicycle a "bullet bike". Semi-automatic
means one pull, one shot. All firearms referred to as "assault weapons" by gun control advocates, or the recently overturned
"assault weapon" ban, are semi-automatic. Other than that, the only real difference is that they look scary. If a gun
manufacturer like Colt makes an automatic weapon for the military like the M-16, and then makes another semi-automatic model
of the same gun for civilians, gun control advocates think they are somehow cheating, and must be stopped. Of course, gun
control advocates can't agree that any guns are good. (See good guns vs Bad Guns)
Below is a copy of a petition to repeal the "assault weapons" law in California. The law to be repealed was written by
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who also wrote the Federal ban which expired in 2004. This should help in explaining just what it
is they are trying to do.
The California "Assault Weapon" ban.
PETITION TO REPEAL
Dangerous Weapons Control Law 12275 through 12290 Assault Weapons.
We, the signers of this petition, are united and resolved that the Dangerous Weapons Control Law 12275 through 12290 (Assault
Weapons) must be repealed. We site the following justifications:
1. This law is unconstitutional
-The Second Amendment, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court to apply to individual Americans, forbids the infringement
on the "right to keep and bear arms". Beyond this fact, we know that it was our right even before it was recognized by our
2. The law asserts untrue facts:
(12275.5.) To wit: "Each firearm has such
a high rate of fire and capacity for firepower...".
- No firearms listed or defined in this law have a greater rate of fire than "semi-automatic", meaning one pull, one shot.
This cannot be considered a "high rate of fire" as it is the most common rate of fire in all legal firearms. Also, because
the rate of fire amounts to a total of only one shot per trigger pull.
3. This law lists hunting, target shooting, and sports as the only legitimate uses for a weapon.
Not only do every one of these weapons fall into one of those three categories, but we assert that the most legitimate
use for a weapon is for protection. The fact that these weapons "can be used to kill and injure human beings" makes them perfect
just for that.
4. The following aspects of firearms, which according to this law, partially define what may be
considered an "assault weapon", have not been proven to attribute to a firearm's likeliness to be used criminally, or to make
the firearm any more or less dangerous. For this reason, there is no justification for such features to contribute to what
constitutes an illegal weapon.
"(1) A semiautomatic, center-fire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:"
"(A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon."
-Cosmetic. Allows better control of the weapon.
"(B) A thumbhole stock."
"(C) A folding or telescoping stock."
-Cosmetic. Makes the weapon no more concealable than any legal pistol.
"(D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher."
-Grenades are already illegal. Flares and flare launchers are not otherwise illegal. A flare launcher attached to a rifle
does not make it more dangerous.
"(E) A flash suppressor."
-Makes the weapon no more or less dangerous or powerful. Not to be confused with a sound suppressor.
"(F) A forward pistol grip."
-Safety feature. Allows better control of the weapon.
"(2) A semiautomatic, center-fire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds."
-This simply illegalizes "high capacity" rifles, meaning that only criminals, who don't obey laws, will have them..
"(3) A semiautomatic, center-fire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches."
- Makes any pistol illegal if it is called a rifle. There is no precidented need or reason to illegalize this type of weapon.
"(4) A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:"
(A) A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer."
- Legitimate items such as pistol grips and flash suppressors, have no merit or precedence for being made illegal. As such,
threading to attach them should not be.
"(B) A second handgrip."
"(C) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon
without burning his or her hand, except a slide that encloses the barrel."
"(D) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip."
"(5) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds."
-Illegal because of capacity. Only criminals, who don't obey laws, will have them.
"(6) A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:
(A) A folding or telescoping stock."
-Cosmetic, no more concealable than a pistol.
"(B) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip."
"(7) A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine."
(8) Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
(End of Petition)
In 1994, you were 11 times more likely to be beaten to death than to be killed by an "assault weapon". This was before
the Federal assault weapons ban. -(FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 1994)
Nationally, "assault weapons" were used in 1.4% of crimes involving firearms and 0.25% of all violent crime before the
enactment of any national or state "assault weapons" ban. In many major urban areas (San Antonio, Mobile, Nashville, etc.)
and some entire states (Maryland, New Jersey, etc.) the rate is less than 0.1% -(Gary Kleck, "Targeting Guns", 1997, compilation
of 48 metropolitan police departments from 1980-1994)
Even weapons misclassified as "assault weapons" (common in the Federal and California assault weapons confiscations) are
used in less than 1% of all homicides. -(FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 1993)
• Los Angeles: In 1998, of 538 documented gun incidents, only one (0.2%)
involved an "assault weapon".
• San Francisco: In 1998, only 2.2% of confiscated weapons were "assault
• San Diego: Between 1988 and 1990, only 0.3% of confiscated weapons were
• "I surveyed the firearms used in violent crimes...assault-type firearms were
the least of our worries." -S.C. Helsley, Assistant Director DOJ Investigation and Enforcement Branch, California, October
For the rest of the nation:
• Between 1980 and 1994, only 2% of confiscated guns were "assault weapons".
• Just over 2% of criminals that used guns used "assault weapons".
Only 1.4% of recovered crime weapons are models covered under the 1994 assault weapons ban. - From statewide recovery report
from Connecticut (1988-1993) and Pennsylvania (1989-1994)