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August 4, 2021

AR-15 is Semi-Automatic — Most Commonly Owned Type of Firearm

AR-15 is Semi-Automatic

The term “assault weapon” is now broadly used by antigun activists to describe any and all semi-automatic firearms — not just AR-style rifles — as taboo and undesirable for private civilian ownership, despite being legally owned and used by millions of Americans.

Antigun politicians and misinformed media have perpetuated this erroneous moniker, “assault weapons,” for decades to drive public opinion of semi-automatic firearms — more specifically the AR-15 — into the gutter. As a result, many think that a semi-automatic firearm is a so-called “assault weapon” based on its cosmetic features or assume that the firearm is in fact a fully automatic machine gun.

Note: we’ll be referring to AR-style rifles as modern sporting rifles throughout the rest of this article. The term “assault weapon” will only be used to explain the misleading use of the term by anti-gun activists.

Not a Machine Gun

A modern sporting rifle is NOT a machine gun or automatic firearm. Automatic firearms were severely restricted from civilian ownership under the 1934 National Firearms Act. A modern sporting rifle is functionally no different than any other “legal” firearm. These guns fire in the same manner as any other semi-automatic firearm (one shot per trigger pull — no spray firing), they shoot the same ammunition as other guns of the same caliber and are no more powerful. What differentiates a modern sporting rifle from other guns is cosmetic; for example, the type of stock on the gun, which makes the conventionally operating firearm look more like a military firearm.

The gun-ban lobby understands that the confusion over what is and what is not an “assault weapon” only benefits them. Consider this statement from Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center.

“The public’s confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is presumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”

Drawing Comparisons, Expanding Labels to Other Semi-Automatics

Semi-automatic pistols, the firearm of choice for concealed carry licensees, have recently garnered attention from antigun lawmakers, as evidenced by their inclusion under the “assault weapon” umbrella in legislation. This practice is becoming more commonplace as the efforts to conceal true intentions of banning all privately owned firearms are diminished. Banning all semi-automatic firearms is now the goal of the antigun lobby who know that the common criminal will not be affected by such bans and legislation.

Labeling every semiautomatic firearm as an “assault weapon” plays on the emotional response of the public who may not be educated on how firearms work and their everyday use by law-abiding citizens seeking to defend themselves and their families. Legislation to curb crime should be the priority, not laws that will only disarm and endanger those who follow the rules.

Semi-automatic firearms are the most common type of firearm in the United States and are used for a wide variety of legitimate purposes, including hunting, small game control, target shooting, competition, and personal defense. They should not be banned.

You might also be interested in:

Abraham Lincoln and So-called “Assualt Weapons”

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