That said, the firearm industry’s traditional definition of an “assault rifle” is a weapon that the military typically uses that has “selective fire capabilities,” or the ability to switch between a semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. However, civilian AR-15s do not have selective fire capabilities, only semi-automatic settings, so the firearms industry insists that it is not a true assault rifle or assault weapon.
Dordon Brack pulls a semi-automatic AR-15 off the rack, for sale at Good Guys Guns & Range on February 15, 2018 in Orem, Utah.
To be clear, however, the federal government generally refers to a military-style weapon capable of firing multiple rounds, whether semi-automatic or fully automatic.
Regardless, the controversy surrounding the AR-15-style rifle stems from its widespread use in some of the nation’s worst mass shootings.
The AR-15 weapon used by accused shooter Nikolas Cruz at a Parkland, Florida, high school is a semi-automatic version of the U.S. Army’s M-16 rifle and was included in a ten-year ban enacted by President Bill Clinton. in 1994. That law also banned semiautomatic weapons used in other mass shootings, including the Oct. 1 massacre in Las Vegas and the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade association, points out on its website that the “AR” does not stand for assault rifle or automatic rifle, but dates back to the 1950s and refers to the company that developed the weapon system, Armalite Rifle.
“AR-15 style rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles,” according to the NSSF. website. “An assault rifle is fully automatic – a machine gun. Automatic firearms have been strictly prohibited from civilian ownership since 1934.”
The NSSF added: “AR-15-style rifles look like military rifles, such as the M-16, but operate like other semi-automatic civilian sporting firearms, firing only a single shot at each pull of the trigger. »
States also tend to have different definitions in gun laws for what is an assault weapon or assault rifle, and this often changes as lawmakers seek to bridge what they perceive to be gaps.
For one thing, California’s gun laws changed this year so that some AR-15 rifles equipped with so-called smart buttons are no longer exempt of a previous ban on assault weapons and must now be amended. Lawful owners, however, are allowed to keep the gun if they register it.
There is also a bill in Ohio that would limit the AR-15. The state’s Republican governor, John Kasich, said Sunday he wanted to find a way to curb sales of the product. “Damn AR-15” but the bill could also impact the sale of all semi-automatic weapons statewide.
The National Rifle Association declined interview requests, but on its website it has defends AR-15s as “the most commonly used rifles in marksmanship competitions, training, and national defense.” He also noted that more than 15 million AR-15s are owned by Americans today.
The Ohio bill defines an assault weapon as “an automatic firearm that has not been rendered permanently inoperable, a semi-automatic firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine having the capacity to accept ten or more rounds, and a semi-automatic firearm with a fixed magazine. magazine having the capacity to accept ten or more rounds.
At the same time, there are more pressure on lawmakers in Florida pass a gun law. Previous attempts after the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando failed.
The 1994 federal assault weapons ban, officially known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Act, was passed as a crime-fighting bill and identified more than a dozen specific models of firearms, including the Colt AR-15, defined as semi-automatic assault weapons. It also defined the term by specific characteristics, such as the ability to accept a detachable magazine and by certain cosmetic features.
Nonetheless, the 1994 ban also excluded semi-automatic rifles that could not accept a detachable magazine holding more than five rounds, as well as approximately 650 weapons considered primarily used in hunting and recreational sports, including Browning, Remington and Berettas. .
After the deadly Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Democrats tried to pass another assault weapons ban, but it failed. The 2013 gun legislation would have banned nearly 160 specific firearms and further defined what constituted a “semi-automatic assault weapon.” Additionally, it would have also banned gun parts or devices that accelerated the rate of fire of semi-automatic rifles.