What IS the definition of "assault weapon", officially?

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  • teratos

    My hair is amazing
    MDS Supporter
    Patriot Picket
    Jan 22, 2009
    59,835
    Bel Air
    Come into the connex. I’ll show you.
     

    mpollan1

    Foxtrot Juliet Bravo
    MDS Supporter
    Sep 26, 2012
    6,807
    Мэриленд
    Simple: You are comparing biological organisms to machines. Yes, human DNA is over 99% similar to that of chimps, but we’re genetically incompatible with them because that’s not how biology works.

    On the other hand, “assault weapons” are machines. I have AR-15s in my safe where nearly all of the major parts are compatible (i.e., interchangeable) with a select-fire M4, other than the trigger and sear. For all intents and purposes: My Colt 6920 SOCOM is almost identical specs to an issue M4A1.

    See the difference?
    So a biological organism cannot be considered to be a machine? Only machines can be considered "assault weapons"?
     

    TheBert

    The Member
    MDS Supporter
    Aug 10, 2013
    7,730
    Gaithersburg, Maryland
    So the one person on this whole board that swears there are “assault weapons” refuses to define it… I’ve never used the ignore button before but

    What is the US legal definition of an assault weapon? If it isn't legally defined at this time I would suggest that we define it as a funnel cake.
     

    dblas

    Past President, MSI
    MDS Supporter
    Apr 6, 2011
    13,107
    Got it, understood. So you’re telling me that the image of the front cover of the “Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons” that I posted on Page 1 was also imaginary? :confused::confused:

    Also: Functional differences between different types of firearms clearly are not imaginary. I don’t think…
    The book you posted with the firearms you listed, is one example, and yet you claim that makes the definition for the entire industry. Please provide further cites for the use of the term by the industry, other than one book.
     

    Boats

    Broken Member
    Mar 13, 2012
    4,110
    Howeird County
    What I said earlier (and also what MexicanBob said earlier): The term "assault weapon" wasn't invented by the VPC or the Brady Bunch. It was first used in our community, and the other side simply got it from us and gave it a negative connotation. In the 1980s, it was considered a useful marketing term by the gun industry.

    Also: The two guns that you see on the book jacket are not automatic weapons. Top one is an Uzi Carbine (you can tell by selector markings) that is fitted with the shorter display barrel that came standard with those guns, to make them look like SMGs. The bottom one is an Uzi Pistol. Both semi-auto Title I firearms, not NFA versions.

    Fitted with a shorter display barrel? So they made an SBR but it's okay because they promise not to shoot it? (that ain't a firearm brace folded up in the rear)

    From your reference:

    An assault weapon can be a shotgun,rimfire,or center fire. Semi auto or select fire. (text, lower right corner).

    They can be a short barreled semi auto rifle (the full sized uzi), or a pistol caliber carbine, or a pistol (in the case of the micro uzi)

    So an assault weapon, using YOUR reference is: Any semi auto, any select fire, any shotgun, any rimfire, any center fire, pistols, pistol caliber carbines and SBRs. (or maybe SBRs unless you shoot them. Or maybe Carbines with slugged display barrels)

    That sure narrows it down. :sarcasm:

    Pretty sure a majority of the firearms in America are assault weapons then.
     
    Last edited:

    dblas

    Past President, MSI
    MDS Supporter
    Apr 6, 2011
    13,107
    Simple: You are comparing biological organisms to machines. Yes, human DNA is over 99% similar to that of chimps, but we’re genetically incompatible with them because that’s not how biology works.

    On the other hand, “assault weapons” are machines. I have AR-15s in my safe where nearly all of the major parts are compatible (i.e., interchangeable) with a select-fire M4, other than the trigger and sear. For all intents and purposes: My Colt 6920 SOCOM is almost identical specs to an issue M4A1.

    See the difference?
    Yep, and so does the MDAG who has written a legal opinion that unless a firearm is 100% parts compatible, then it does not equal the other.
    So, your AR15 and your Colt 6920 ARE NOT equal to the M4 and thus NOT a select fire capable firearm, and ARE NOT assault weapons.

    And I quote you "Also: Functional differences between different types of firearms clearly are not imaginary. I don’t think…" But yet you claim that differences do not matter when it comes to defining assault weapons.

    Make up your mind, either differences matter or they don't. But whatever your opinion, the legal opinion in Maryland is that differences do matter and one does not equal the other.
     

    Mark75H

    MD Wear&Carry Instructor
    Industry Partner
    MDS Supporter
    Sep 25, 2011
    17,252
    Outside the Gates
    Legally it is whatever the legislature decides the definition is. As a legislative body, they can change it on a whim and change it according to situation and circumstance. They could declare apples and peaches to be assault rifles, cars or spacecraft. Doesn't make it so in the real world, but does in the legal world.
     

    BurkeM

    Ultimate Member
    MDS Supporter
    Jan 8, 2014
    1,647
    Baltimore
    1708731233665.png


    Cartridge.30 Carbine
    ActionGas-operated (short-stroke piston), rotating bolt
    Rate of fire
    • 60–70 aimed rounds/min (M1/A1)
    • 750 rounds/min (M2)
    Muzzle velocity1,990 ft/s (607 m/s)
    Effective firing range219–328 yd (200–300 m)[10]
    Feed system15- or 30-round detachable box magazine
    Sights
    • Rear sight: aperture; L-type flip or adjustable
    • Front sight: wing-protected post
     

    smokey

    2A TEACHER
    Jan 31, 2008
    31,511
    As it EXISTS, "Assault weapon" is simply a political/propaganda term for any arm hoplophobes are trying to ban and demonize. It's expanded to include things like a handgun with a >10 round mag inserted or threaded barrel. It's that simple. The definition is whatever antigunners are trying to ban and its purposely nebulous. The circle-jerk attempting to nail it down concretely is useless.
     

    MattFinals718

    Active Member
    Nov 23, 2022
    353
    Arlington, VA
    Wow, this thread has exploded since dinner time. But, I'm happy to see that there are at least some good conversation points coming out of it besides platitudes from the Twitterverse/X/whatever.

    What is the US legal definition of an assault weapon? If it isn't legally defined at this time I would suggest that we define it as a funnel cake.

    As I think you've seen from this thread so far - depending on who you ask, there is either a strict definition that says "assault weapons" can be select-fire guns only, or it's just a term that the gun controllers made up to describe scary guns.

    The definition that I re-iterated on Page 2, which is my own, is an attempt to describe what I think are the weapons that everyone is most likely referring to:

    "Assault weapon" (as the left uses it) = "Semi-automatic version of a fully-automatic assault rifle or submachine gun." Others would (not incorrectly) define the term as encompassing both select-fire and semi-only versions of assault rifles and subguns. (You'll note that I'm leaving "battle rifles" and "combat shotguns" out of this definition, for reasons described in my first post in this topic.)

    The book you posted with the firearms you listed, is one example, and yet you claim that makes the definition for the entire industry. Please provide further cites for the use of the term by the industry, other than one book.

    Right, but I didn't claim that it's "the definition for the entire industry;" that wasn't the purpose of citing that example. Rather, I am trying to refute those who are mindlessly repeating the 2A community talking point that the term "assault weapon" was concocted by the anti-gun left to describe firearms which "look scary." Out of curiosity, why aren't you asking them to provide evidence that the gun controllers came up with the term? Are only they allowed to post factually questionable statements without proof? Aren't you holding me to a higher standard than them?

    Also: Gun Digest was essentially the bible of the 2A community in the days before the interwebs/gunterwebs came into existence, and the book that I posted is the first in a series that spans several decades (I also own the 5th Edition of this book, though at least that one featured a select-fire M4 on the cover). It was a fairly authoritative source with authoritative authors (for the time) that was widely read. It would be interesting to know if Jack Lewis got any hate mail telling him, "You moron, stop calling them 'assault weapons' - or I'll use my fist as one!"

    But, since you asked, here's another ad for the TEC-9 showing description as an "assault-type pistol". How many more do I need to post?
    image_2024-02-23_214609875.png


    Fitted with a shorter display barrel? So they made an SBR but it's okay because they promise not to shoot it? (that ain't a firearm brace folded up in the rear)

    No, I mean that Action Arms (the Uzi's importer) sold the Carbine with a non-functional display barrel that mimicked the look of the SMG barrel, but was legal because the gun would not fire with it installed. I believe it's mentioned somewhere in the Gun Digest article, actually.

    From your reference:

    An assault weapon can be a shotgun,rimfire,or center fire. Semi auto or select fire. (text, lower right corner).

    They can be a short barreled semi auto rifle (the full sized uzi), or a pistol caliber carbine, or a pistol (in the case of the micro uzi)

    So an assault weapon, using YOUR reference is: Any semi auto, any select fire, any shotgun, any rimfire, any center fire, pistols, pistol caliber carbines and SBRs. (or maybe SBRs unless you shoot them. Or maybe Carbines with slugged display barrels)

    That sure narrows it down. :sarcasm:

    What page is that on? (I only have hard copy, can't CTRL-F)

    My "reference" wasn't used for the definition, just to illustrate my point that our community once used the term "assault weapons." But that really doesn't look like a definition to me. I seem to recall (don't have the book in front of me ATM) a discussion about the functional comparisons of "assault weapons" comparing the NFA and non-NFA versions.

    BTW, you still owe me a response on the Glock vs. Steyr SPP discussion. Would like to be set straight on that, if you have time - we can continue here.

    Pretty sure a majority of the firearms in America are assault weapons then.

    Wouldn't go that far. Please see the definition I suggested on Page 2. Which is - since I know you'll say this - subjective, for sure. But I claim only that it is a definition which seems to encompass the weapons that our opponents are most upset about.

    Yep, and so does the MDAG who has written a legal opinion that unless a firearm is 100% parts compatible, then it does not equal the other.
    So, your AR15 and your Colt 6920 ARE NOT equal to the M4 and thus NOT a select fire capable firearm, and ARE NOT assault weapons.

    Elsewhere (other threads), I've mentioned that I don't exactly hold MGA (MDGA?) in high regard for their firearms knowledge, which is why I find FSA 2013 to be so arbitrary and downright stupid, even for the purpose that it was (ostensibly) written/signed into law. But I'm not sure how their definition is relevant to a comparison of Title I and Title II firearms (which it was not intended to address).

    My Colt 6920 SOCOM is certainly 99% interchangeable with a military M4A1 (SOCOM barrel profile). I don't see how it's not an assault rifle? You're also forgetting that these are the same people whose BS law tells me that my rifle (with a heavy SOCOM-profile barrel) is not an "assault weapon," and is still legal to buy/own in MD, but the exact same gun with an M4 GOV-profile barrel is an "assault weapon" (ergo, is banned if bought after 2013)?

    And I quote you "Also: Functional differences between different types of firearms clearly are not imaginary. I don’t think…" But yet you claim that differences do not matter when it comes to defining assault weapons.

    Make up your mind, either differences matter or they don't. But whatever your opinion, the legal opinion in Maryland is that differences do matter and one does not equal the other.

    Negative. What I said specifically is that I do not regard select-fire capability as a "significant capability differentiator" (quote). That wording implies that I see it as a capability difference. But, since you raise a (semi)-valid point, I'm happy to elaborate on my position. As I mentioned elsewhere in my post: Full-auto functionality in a rifle can be useful, but only for a handful of limited purposes, and then, only in the hands of someone who is a more experienced/advanced shooter. Whereas semi-automatic fire takes far less skill/experience to master, and has far more uses. So, while I'll stop short of saying that full-auto doesn't matter or doesn't represent a capability difference, I'll say that its utility is a bit more limited than semi-auto fire.

    The crux of my argument - which I prefer you not overlook - is that in the U.S. military, full-auto and burst are discouraged, and not widely used (which is not to say never, just not often). That has been my understanding based on what I have read, what I've seen on firearms channels, and also what a few acquaintances who served have told me. I've even seen veterans on Arfcom who have said that they would take their personal AR to war if they could, because the burst/auto capability on their service rifle didn't matter to them.

    Legally it is whatever the legislature decides the definition is. As a legislative body, they can change it on a whim and change it according to situation and circumstance. They could declare apples and peaches to be assault rifles, cars or spacecraft. Doesn't make it so in the real world, but does in the legal world.

    True as that is, MGA can still suck a fat one. I've been pretty clear that I regard FSA 2013 as a very poorly crafted law that is arbitrary and convoluted and just plain nonsensical.

    And the swastika wasn't invented by the Nazis.

    Are you going to say that because of it's origins that it isn't a hateful symbol?

    Another apples and oranges comparison, I'm afraid. It's also not terribly relevant to the actual point that I'm trying to make.

    If I had to be honest, I don't terribly care what semi-automatic assault rifle and subgun clones are called. Call them falafels, for all I care. My bigger concern, which I think you're missing, has to do with our side trying to play word games akin to what the woke left does with gender. That works about as well as the wokerati's attempts to define gender for helping our credibility.

    Why don't you just join me in admitting that yes, maybe a semi-automatic AR-15 is functionally a different weapon than any of Ruger's rifles (if perhaps marginally so), but then join me in arguing that (1.) banning it is unconstitutional and contrary to the intent of the 2A, and (2.) it's statistically unlikely to be used in crime, anyway, so why the focus on it? I regard those as wholly valid arguments that benefit from (a.) being backed by plenty of data (and the Constitution), and (b.) are comprehensible to those not in the know.
     
    Last edited:

    Jim12

    Let Freedom Ring
    MDS Supporter
    Jan 30, 2013
    34,072
    Fitted with a shorter display barrel? So they made an SBR but it's okay because they promise not to shoot it? (that ain't a firearm brace folded up in the rear)

    From your reference:

    An assault weapon can be a shotgun,rimfire,or center fire. Semi auto or select fire. (text, lower right corner).

    They can be a short barreled semi auto rifle (the full sized uzi), or a pistol caliber carbine, or a pistol (in the case of the micro uzi)

    So an assault weapon, using YOUR reference is: Any semi auto, any select fire, any shotgun, any rimfire, any center fire, pistols, pistol caliber carbines and SBRs. (or maybe SBRs unless you shoot them. Or maybe Carbines with slugged display barrels)

    That sure narrows it down. :sarcasm:

    Pretty sure a majority of the firearms in America are assault weapons then.
    Assault weapon of choice used in deadliest mass murder ever committed on American soil. 9/11/01

    1708745306804.jpeg
     

    dblas

    Past President, MSI
    MDS Supporter
    Apr 6, 2011
    13,107
    Right, but I didn't claim that it's "the definition for the entire industry;" that wasn't the purpose of citing that example. Rather, I am trying to refute those who are mindlessly repeating the 2A community talking point that the term "assault weapon" was concocted by the anti-gun left to describe firearms which "look scary." Out of curiosity, why aren't you asking them to provide evidence that the gun controllers came up with the term? Are only they allowed to post factually questionable statements without proof? Aren't you holding me to a higher standard than them?
    Actually the anti-2A community, and specifically the Brady Foundation came out and admitted they created the term to drum up press support for their initiatives in the 90's. So I don't need those here, claiming it was created by the anti-gun groups, to provide proof when the anti-gun groups have freely admitted it.
    You, on the other had, are using one source as gospel that the gun industry created the term. A title on a book, no matter how many editions it has, does not, a term make.

    Also: Gun Digest was essentially the bible of the 2A community in the days before the interwebs/gunterwebs came into existence, and the book that I posted is the first in a series that spans several decades (I also own the 5th Edition of this book, though at least that one featured a select-fire M4 on the cover). It was a fairly authoritative source with authoritative authors (for the time) that was widely read. It would be interesting to know if Jack Lewis got any hate mail telling him, "You moron, stop calling them 'assault weapons' - or I'll use my fist as one!"

    But, since you asked, here's another ad for the TEC-9 showing description as an "assault-type pistol". How many more do I need to post?
    View attachment 456355
    The TEC-9 and the UZI are both banned in Maryland as Assault Pistols as defined by Maryland State Statute.


    Elsewhere (other threads), I've mentioned that I don't exactly hold MGA (MDGA?) in high regard for their firearms knowledge, which is why I find FSA 2013 to be so arbitrary and downright stupid, even for the purpose that it was (ostensibly) written/signed into law. But I'm not sure how their definition is relevant to a comparison of Title I and Title II firearms (which it was not intended to address).
    NO, the MDAG (Maryland Attorney General), you know, the leading law enforcement agent in the state of Maryland that actually opines on Maryland State Statutes?
    His opinion states that in order to be a copy of a banned rifle/shotgun, it has to be 100% parts compatible. Different caliber = not a copy. Metric hardware instead of standard = not a copy. Different trigger = not a copy. Can't install a sear = not a copy.

    My Colt 6920 SOCOM is certainly 99% interchangeable with a military M4A1 (SOCOM barrel profile). I don't see how it's not an assault rifle?
    According to the MD AG (Maryland Attorney General), since it's not 100% parts compatible one does not equal the other. So in Maryland, your AR15 and Colt 6920 are NOT assault rifles, no matter how much you think they are.

    You're also forgetting that these are the same people whose BS law tells me that my rifle (with a heavy SOCOM-profile barrel) is not an "assault weapon," and is still legal to buy/own in MD, but the exact same gun with an M4 GOV-profile barrel is an "assault weapon" (ergo, is banned if bought after 2013)?
    Buy me a beer and I will fill you in on the history, because the issue you mention above didn't start in 2013, it actually started with the regualted rifle/shotgun list in 1989.

    Negative. What I said specifically is that I do not regard select-fire capability as a "significant capability differentiator" (quote). That wording implies that I see it as a capability difference. But, since you raise a (semi)-valid point, I'm happy to elaborate on my position. As I mentioned elsewhere in my post: Full-auto functionality in a rifle can be useful, but only for a handful of limited purposes, and then, only in the hands of someone who is a more experienced/advanced shooter. Whereas semi-automatic fire takes far less skill/experience to master, and has far more uses. So, while I'll stop short of saying that full-auto doesn't matter or doesn't represent a capability difference, I'll say that its utility is a bit more limited than semi-auto fire.

    The crux of my argument - which I prefer you not overlook - is that in the U.S. military, full-auto and burst are discouraged, and not widely used (which is not to say never, just not often). That has been my understanding based on what I have read, what I've seen on firearms channels, and also what a few acquaintances who served have told me. I've even seen veterans on Arfcom who have said that they would take their personal AR to war if they could, because the burst/auto capability on their service rifle didn't matter to them.
    While bust and FA certainly have a purpose, those functions are not concentrated on in the marksmanship portion of basic. The use of them is NOT discouraged, the use is just not concentrated on as a general use item.

    But that still doesn't negate the fact that those functions are a requirement by the military to be a military rifle. So yes, those functions make a difference when the ant-gunners are calling an AR15 or a Colt 6920 a military firearm, when in fact they are not because they are missing required function(s) by the military.

    By the way, I served, I know what I'm talking about with regards to training and use for FA/Burst.
     

    BurkeM

    Ultimate Member
    MDS Supporter
    Jan 8, 2014
    1,647
    Baltimore
    As I think you've seen from this thread so far - depending on who you ask, there is either a strict definition that says "assault weapons" can be select-fire guns only, or it's just a term that the gun controllers made up to describe scary guns.
    IMHO, the "gun control" proponents want to ban/remove/confiscate/destroy all SEMI-AUTOMATIC firearms that can fire rapidly into a crowded space. They use the terms "assault rifle/assault weapon" interchangeably, because they don't actually care about the technical details.

    Most of the "Moms" don't know the difference between belt fed or detachable magazine, don't understand the difference between full automatic, burst mode, and/or slow fire semiauto.

    IMHO, once they succeed (never), they would find a reason to go after lever action, bolt action, pump action and revolvers NEXT.

    Long term, they fantasize about a 'gun free' world. That's their end-state, their goal, their Nirvana.

    1708748045498.jpeg


    There is a safe place in view of all, but difficult of approach, where there is no old age nor death, no pain nor disease. It is what is called Nirvāṇa, or freedom from pain, or perfection, which is in view of all; it is the safe, happy, and quiet place which the great sages reach. That is the eternal place, in view of all, but difficult of approach. Those sages who reach it are free from sorrows, they have put an end to the stream of existence.
     

    BurkeM

    Ultimate Member
    MDS Supporter
    Jan 8, 2014
    1,647
    Baltimore
    Actually the anti-2A community, and specifically the Brady Foundation came out and admitted they created the term to drum up press support for their initiatives in the 90's.
    FYI for all hands:

    Brady was founded in 1974 as the National Council to Control Handguns (NCCH). From 1980 through 2000, it operated under the name Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI). In 2001, it was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and its sister project, the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, was renamed the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The nonprofits rebranded as Brady in February 2019, on the 25th anniversary of the implementation of the Brady Bill.

    In 1988, HCI supported Congress in passing the Undetectable Firearms Act, which banned the manufacture, possession and transfer of firearms with less than 3.7 oz of metal, after the emergence of "plastic" handguns
    like Glock pistols.
    HCI was the chief supporter of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly known as the Brady Law, enacted in 1993 after a seven-year debate. It successfully lobbied for passage of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, banning the manufacture and importation of so-called military-style assault weapons.

    Assault weapons​

    The Brady Campaign contends that self-loading and select-fire weapons are virtually identical since a semi-automatic rifle may be fired rapidly.
    What’s The Difference Between A Fully Automatic And A Semi-Automatic Assault Weapon? About 3.5 Seconds.
    » by NewsWatch on February 26th, 2009

    Some gun advocates disingenuously argue that assault weapons are only fully automatic machine guns, and that their semi-automatic versions are merely “like many hunting rifles.”

    That’s false.

    The only difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic assault weapon is about 3.5 seconds.
    Time for yourself the difference in rate of fire between these two weapons, each loaded with a 30-round magazine.

    Then decide which one you need to “hunt” with.

    Automatic AK-47 Assault Rifle:

    Semi-automatic AK-47 Assault Rifle:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     

    Biggfoot44

    Ultimate Member
    Aug 2, 2009
    33,186
    There Really Truly * iS NO SUCH THING * . Seriously .

    I really wish I had a time machine to go back to the 1980's to bitch slap the Editor at Digest Books Inc that made up that sensational title to spur sales of that book .
     

    Boats

    Broken Member
    Mar 13, 2012
    4,110
    Howeird County
    There Really Truly * iS NO SUCH THING * . Seriously .

    I really wish I had a time machine to go back to the 1980's to bitch slap the Editor at Digest Books Inc that made up that sensational title to spur sales of that book .

    Bingo. What was once a marketing term to appeal to gun buyers (scary looking = cool) has been appropriated by the antis (scary looking = extra killy)

    See my above post about a certain Indian/tibetan symbol which was also appropriated. The antis are literally using Nazi tactics.
     

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