Assault Weapon

Federal Assault Weapons Ban

Assault weapon is a political term, often used by gun control advocates, typically referring to firearms ‘designed for rapidly firing at human targets from close range,’ sometimes described as military-style features useful in combat. The term was most notably used in the language of the now-expired Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, more commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004.

The federal assault weapons ban specifically prohibited 19 guns considered to be assault weapons. These were all semi-automatic firearms, meaning that they can eject spent shell casings and chamber the next round without additional human action, but (as opposed to automatic firearms) only one round is fired per pull of the trigger.

In addition to the 19 weapons specifically prohibited, the federal assault weapons ban also defined as a prohibited assault weapon any semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine and at least two of the following five items: a folding or telescopic stock; a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; a bayonet mount; a flash suppressor or threaded barrel (a barrel that can accommodate a flash suppressor); or a grenade launcher.

The act also defined as a prohibited assault weapon semi-automatic pistols that weighed more than 50 ounces when unloaded or included a barrel shroud, and barred the manufacture of magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds. Although the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, several states have their own assault weapons bans, which sometimes differ from the former federal law. Whether or not assault weapons should be legally restricted more than other firearms and the definition and value of the ‘assault weapon’ classification is part of gun politics in the United States.

Prominent gun-control groups which support restrictions on ownership of these firearms include the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Prominent opponents of assault-weapons bans include the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. Gun-rights groups consider the phrase assault weapon to be a pejorative when used to describe civilian firearms.

Many opponents of the concept of ‘assault weapons’ cite the fact that all criteria were developed, then adopted by a military force out of practicality. Detachable magazines allow for ammunition to be secured, as opposed to being loose and easily lost or damaged. Collapsible stocks allow for a rifle to be fitted to the user without spending large amounts of money to have the firearm shaped to the individual. Folding stocks shift the bulk of the stock to the side, thus shortening the rifle for transport, at the penalty of more than doubling the width. Pistol grips reduce the angle (and thus rotational strain) of the wrist, and to control the firearm during recoil, and is popular with physically impaired shooters who cannot hold a stock with a more traditional angle.

Bayonet mounts are often simply a result of the same parts being used on both government and civilian rifles (sight towers, etc). Flash suppressors shield the shooter’s vision, as well as those beside or behind the user. The accessory make the shooter’s muzzle flash more visible to those downrange, and is exacerbated further with a flash eliminator. Barrels are threaded to mount aforementioned flash suppressors, sound suppressors (popular for lessening discomfort from loud sounds), compensators and muzzle brakes, both used for aiding recoil management for recoil-sensitive shooters.

Barrel mounted grenade launchers are concentric rings around the muzzle. These are found only on rifles from the early to mid 19th century, when commanders thought it prudent to enable infantry to launch hand grenades from their rifles (with minimal success). A barrel shroud is a tube around the barrel designed to limit transfer of heat from the barrel to the supporting hand, or to protect from accidental contact. Magazines greater than 10 rounds are used by competition shooters due to the number of targets, and are above all, already available as surplus or contract overruns from police or military orders, and are cost effective when comparing lower capacities to standard (20-30 for rifles, 7-20 for pistols) capacity magazines. Many owners of ‘assault weapons’ say the ban is nothing more than a cosmetic ban, or a practicality ban.


One Comment to “Assault Weapon”

  1. no guns, then you can’t bring in a gun, period.The only thing the prrteopy owner cannot do is make restrictions that are prohibited by law; for example the law explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race so they can’t say no blacks for example, but they are perfectly within their rights to say no weapons. It’s no different than if you told someone you didn’t want them to bring a gun into your house. Even if they have a carry permit, the house is yours and the permit does not take away your right to refuse the person entry if they choose to bring a weapon into your home.

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