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Old February 28, 2013, 08:54 AM   #1
CowTowner
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What Is An "Assault Weapon"?

OK Folks, per a hint from Spats, I think it's time we went down this road.

What the heck exactly is an "Assault Weapon"?

Probably easier to define what it isn't first.
It isn't an Assault Rifle. Assault Rifles have the ability to have the mode of fire selected between (not inclusive) Semi-Automatic, Full Automatic and multiple round bursts.

So, what the heck is an "Assault Weapon" really?
According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_weapon ,
"Assault weapon refers to different types of firearms and weapons, and is a term that has differing meanings, usages and purposes."

Boy, that's a lot of help isn't it? Looks like I could call a rock an assault weapon based on that definition.

And I think that's just the point.
Somebody came up with the term so they would have a one size fits all definition of anything they want banned or restricted.
The purpose is to take the non-gun owning civilian population and scare the crap out of them with this term.
Most people understand what a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is. They also have a basic idea what a weapon of war is. And everyone knows what an assault is. Use the fear associated with the word "Weapon" and add the even scarier word "Assault" to the front and the average civilian non-gun owner thinks of machine-guns and grenade launchers.

OK, I got it started. Now, we should be able to go further down this road intelligently and hopefully keep the name calling in check.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Did I miss anything? Legally and/or legislatively did I miss something?

And as an afterthought, why are we allowing our elected officials to use this term without consequence?

BTW, The NRA now tells its instructors to NOT use the word "weapon" during any training classes. We are to use words like: Gun, Handgun, Pistol, Rifle, and Firearm to describe the device.
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Last edited by CowTowner; February 28, 2013 at 09:38 AM.
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:05 AM   #2
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What Is An "Assault Weapon"?

Um... Anything I use in an act of assault on anything or anyone. Blah. It's all a bunch of political phooey.

Likewise, anything can be used as a weapon in the right circumstances.

There's no correct answer to the question.
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:14 AM   #3
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CowTowner,

I don't disagree with anything you said, but I also don't think there's much to be done about it now. You can't forcibly redact a phrase from the English language, or keep people from using it.

And even if you do convince "Joe/Jane Six-Pack" (which I think is a condescending term, by the way) that there's no fundamental difference between "Assault Weapons" and any other semi-automatic weapons, are you *certain* you know how that will work out for us? Will there suddenly be a universal acceptance of ARs, SKSs, WASRs and the like, or will the sentiment swing to "with no fundamental difference, we'd better ban all of the semi-automatic rifles instead of being fooled by the pretty walnut stocks and blued steel into thinking they're not scary and evil too."
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:36 AM   #4
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ScottRiqui,

No, I'm not certain of anything on this topic.
The idea is to get the discussion started. And to see where everyone like you willing to reply takes the thread.
But to this point you made:
Quote:
.....instead of being fooled by the pretty walnut stocks and blued steel into thinking they're not scary and evil too
I think Senator DF's bill made exactly those types of firearms banned as well.
So from my point of view, we're already there to a certain degree.

And I edited the six-pack section because in hindsight, I think you're right.
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:47 AM   #5
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I guess I'm confused about what there is to discuss here.

You're absolutely right - "assault weapon" doesn't have a universal meaning - or if it does, it's so basic as to be trivial and useless (e.g. "anything that can be used as a weapon to assault someone").

But we can't force anyone to stop using it, and I believe that if we push the issue too hard from a semantic angle, we come across as pedantic, and risk a backlash against *all* semiautomatics when we "get our wish", and people finally do realize that there's no fundamental difference between them.
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:59 AM   #6
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An "Assault Weapon" is NOT - A bad or evil thing. As a benchmark for comparison, consider how many full auto or select fire weapons are in the hands of our military, people who have been trained in the art of making war, who have the skills necessary to kill in large numbers in a short amount of time. They carry these various full auto and select fire (and even more destructive things) on a daily basis, in a war zone where the next person you meet might well be interested in killing you. However you do not as a rule see our military folks going out and intentionally attacking a school, or whatever with the intent of slaughtering innocents. There have been a few instances but by and large it doesn't happen. Why. Could it be the person holding/using the various weapons that are the responsible part of the equation not the weapon itself.
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Old February 28, 2013, 10:14 AM   #7
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The term "Assault Weapon" is an engineered, politically savvy catch-all description of anything that can easily be demonized.

The gun-control lobby pushed for a ban on handguns for decades. Let's not forget that the Brady Campaign was once Handgun Control, Inc. They were never successful, so they decided to change the topic.

Thus, the idea of "assault weapons" was born.

Quote:
Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. (...)

Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
So, what is an "Assault Weapon?" Anything they think they can get banned because it looks intimidating.
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Old February 28, 2013, 10:35 AM   #8
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The term comes from sturmgewehr from Germany in 1944, technically speaking.
Which means storm or assault rifle.
The anti's did adopt the term as stated above, to use the confusing and scary sound idea of it to bamboozle the ignorant into supporting a ban.
But there was an official Axis gun behind it, once.
I do not know if the anti's knew that, or just stumbled upon it.
I am amazed at people who think AR15 stands for anything under the sun. One guy last week said "Army Rifle".
No. That's Armalite Rifle as coined in 1958.
dc

Hey there is another thread going on about this that sets it forth in far greater detail.
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Old February 28, 2013, 10:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
No. That's Armalite Rifle as coined in 1958.
I don't even think the "AR" is for "Armalite Rifle", since Armalite also made a shotgun with the "AR" designation.

If anything, I think the "AR" just comes from "ARmalite".
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Old February 28, 2013, 10:48 AM   #10
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I guess that's right.
However, it's now a Colt trademark? And nobody else can use it?
Which I don't know anything about those guns. They are not 'my kinda gun' so ...
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Old February 28, 2013, 10:57 AM   #11
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I think the term was just made by politicians to make the people who are uneducated about guns believe these weapons can cause more damage than an average gun, just so they can ban them.
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Old February 28, 2013, 11:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
The term comes from sturmgewehr from Germany in 1944, technically speaking. Which means storm or assault rifle.
When discussing the origin of the term "assault rifle," you are correct.

However, I've never found any evidence that there's a connection between the terms "assault rifle" and "assault weapon." "Assault weapon" appears to be a term made from whole cloth.
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Old February 28, 2013, 11:22 AM   #13
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The term "Assault Weapon" is a pigment of the imagination—it is intended to color your thinking.
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Old February 28, 2013, 02:20 PM   #14
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I don't like the term "assault weapon." Let's be clear about that first. With that said, it's a term that was made up, spread around, codified into law, and repeated endlessly. Even with a concerted effort, I'm afraid we'll be decades getting it out of our language, if ever at all.
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Old February 28, 2013, 04:14 PM   #15
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Dave Hardy did a nice bit of testimony on the subject for Feinstein's circus.

http://armsandthelaw.com/archives/Ha...final%202d.pdf
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Old February 28, 2013, 04:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
The term "Assault Weapon" is an engineered, politically savvy catch-all description of anything that can easily be demonized.
That's the truth, and the sad part is how the term "assault" weapon has been legislated into statutory law, requiring gun owners to use the term in legal challenges. Could you imagine if they used such disparaging language to deride other classes of civil rights? At least gun owners aren't taking this laying down.
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Old March 1, 2013, 09:34 PM   #17
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It's a term coined by the media. Remember the big fuss over "Saturday Night Specials"? No such gun ever existed. The media made it up for any cheaply made hand gun used in crimes.
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Old March 2, 2013, 08:30 AM   #18
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It all depends who you're talking to.

For us, its a synonym for bovine pies. We don't need a translation because we know that.

Its essentially any firearms that has (a) certain cosmetic features or (b) any firearm that does't have these features that are defined by name as assault weapons.

For a rabid anti, its an ever changing and ever growing fluid definition that can mean anything they want. The goal for them is to confuse non gun owners and make them support banning anything with the word assault in front of it.

To me, the place where you can get the most effect in coming up with a definition is explaining it to non gun owners.

Here's my own approach.

First, I clarify whether they are talking about assault rifles or assault weapons. Most don't understand the difference. Follow up by explaining that true assault rifles have been strictly regulated since the 30s and banned since 1986. (yes, not exactly true but close enough to someone who doesn't shoot).

Then I explain that an assault weapon is any gun that's been doctored up to look like a military issue firearm, and that even BB guns could be included. Then I explain that since its so arbitrary, there are literally dozens of specific definitions throughout the country so there's no hard and fast answer. But for example, I explain that how having an adjustable shoulder stock that moves even 1-2 inches is a felony, but taking off a stock and replacing it with a shorter one is ok.

At that point, either their eyes glaze over and the subject changes or a more in depth conversation starts.

A few hard hitting examples here come courtesy of SAFE.

The FAQ on SAFE has a section on what about antique weapons that are now designated as firearms. Let them draw their own conclusion.

Another good example is to explain how the rifleman's gun (Chuck Conners) is also banned under most AWB too.
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Old March 2, 2013, 10:50 AM   #19
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I am thinking there a number of people posting here who are uninformed and/or have short memories. I do not off the top of my head know the precise origin in time of the term "assault weapon" nor the originator of the phrase, but it was used in the firearms community in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a sort of catchall term for self-defense firearms including rifles, shotguns, and handguns. There were even books published such as "The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons" (that may not be the precise wording, but close.)
As someone observed in another thread, Pogo had it right - "we have met the enemy and he is us."
The antis have many sins on their heads, but creating the term "assault weapon" ain't one of them. They did, however, grab it and run with it, and have stretched whatever meaning it may once have had far beyond the breaking point. At this time I believe it is generally a waste of effort to discuss the merits or demerits of the term, as it is enshrined in federal and state laws, but rather to work to repeal or rewrite those laws.


Edit: Found a link

://www.amazon.com/Digest-Assault-Weapons-Fifth-Edition/dp/087341778X

Google is our friend (most of the time.)

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Old March 2, 2013, 11:19 AM   #20
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I always thought an "Assault Weapon" was something that had been used to Assault someone or something. It could be a baseball bat, a telephone, a knife. A phrase that is used past tense. To blindly call anything an Assault Weapon that can and most often is never used for such a purpose, seems vastly irresponsible to me.

Last edited by Hitthespot; March 2, 2013 at 11:26 AM.
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Old March 2, 2013, 11:25 AM   #21
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Pistol grips, flash suppressors, adjustable stocks, barrel shrouds, etc. are the first things the non-informed believe makes a gun an assault weapon. Of course none of that makes them any more lethal than any hunting rifle.

But realistically it is the ability to accept a magazine that holds LOTS of rounds.
That is the wisp of a thread they will hold on to to make their argument and unfortunately it is a point we have to contend with.

But we know that in the hands of a law abiding owner it is no more an assault weapon than a sling shot.

Criminals will always have the best weapons they can get no matter how they have to get them, they will get them.

We should have that legal option. No doubt about it.

Their whole argument against the "legal owner" is emotional. It is hard to fight emotion with fact when the emotions are fresh and raw because they just don't want to hear fact to start with.

Time away from tragedies helps, hopefully giving emotions time to calm and reasoned thought an opening to seep in and make people see plain sense.
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Old March 2, 2013, 11:26 AM   #22
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As a teenager, I got into a confrontation and hit a guy with my skateboard. That's the only "weapon" I've ever used to assault anyone.
Guess that makes it an assault weapon.
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Old March 2, 2013, 12:26 PM   #23
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It's an absolutely asinine word for anyone interested in keeping the second amendment alive to utter.

Any firearms fan who uses it is falling directly into the hands of his enemy.

It's on a par with carrying a knife with a "combat" related name.

Yes, it's a caving to principles.

But we are in a war to outsmart our foes and every reference to "assault" anything just gives them something to use against us.

We are already far too complacent and passive in our battle for our rights.

My PERSONAL opinion is that "assault" should never be mentioned with any firearm.
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