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September 19, 2011

The Term ‘Modern Sporting Rifle’

When pro-gun blogger Eric at Gunmart Blog wrote that he does not care for the term “modern sporting rifle,” which NSSF has been promoting to describe AR-platform rifles for the last two years, well, he’s entitled to his opinion. However, when he wrote “perhaps we should just embrace the term ‘assault rifle,’ then he becomes an accessory to those who want to ban these sporting firearms. To underscore this point, the vehemently anti-gun Violence Policy Center promoted Eric’s post on its social media outlets. Good exposure for a blogger; wrong audience, though.

And that’s the problem. Whenever someone in the gun-owning community mistakenly calls an AR-platform rifle an assault rifle or an automatic rifle, they are assisting anti-gun organizations and lawmakers who are eager to introduce legislation to restrict ownership of these and potentially other semiautomatic firearms. (By the way, the AR stands for ArmaLite, the company that developed the rifle in the 1950s, and not assault rifle or automatic rifle. See other MSR facts.)

Incorrect labeling of AR-style firearms by  gun owners, not to mention anti-gun groups, is what caused NSSF to launch its Modern Sporting Rifle education program. NSSF has driven a broad-based and expensive communications effort to encourage gun owners to better understand AR-platform rifles–that they are not assault rifles, that they are semiautomatics firing one round with each pull of the trigger just like other semiautomatic sporting rifles and that they are in common use for target shooting and hunting. Additionally and importantly, we’ve helped those who reacted to the MSR’s military look to understand how for more than a century civilian sporting rifles have evolved from their military predecessors–such as the bolt-action Springfield 30-06 after World War I and semiautomatic rifle after World War II. The MSR follows in that tradition.

To date, NSSF has had a great response to its educational initiative. The term modern sporting rifle has been widely adopted by the firearms industry and by many leading media outlets.

NSSF continues to ask that media, gun owners and others use the term modern sporting rifle when describing AR-platform rifles, but if for some reason you cannot bring yourself to do so, then we ask you to refer to these firearms by their proper model name and number. Those from the gun-owning community who label them assault rifles are damaging an industry and potentially the right to own these popular semiautomatic rifles. They will also find that those individuals who like their columns best are not their friends.

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