Journalist education 99; Assault Rifle

Words continue to mean things, even though 99% of journalists fail to use them correctly. This post is for journalists, or for those who take them seriously. For everyone else who already knows this stuff; thank you for your patience while we dabble in some remedial education for the less fortunate.

There’s now a trend among conservatives in talk radio to declare that there is no such thing as an “assault rifle”. They’ll say it proudly, as though they’re among an elite few who know the truth about something. This is the sort of thing you “know” because some guy you know knows a guy who’s cousin’s step-father’s uncle knows a thing or two because he once knew a guy who knew a cop, and the story trickled down through several get-togethers and backyard BBQs. In other words it’s not something you know at all. Apparently they mean well in this case, but they are attempting to make a point that, at best, they didn’t quite get the first few times it was explained to them. We’ll try again.

Yes, there are assault rifles. The Germans seem to have cemented the design concept back in the 1940s. In short, an assault rifle (Sturmgewehr) is a smallish rifle firing a cartridge of intermediate size and power (in-between a pistol and a rifle), feeding from a detachable, box magazine, capable of full-automatic fire. The original had a pistol grip stock, but the latter feature is not critical to its purpose or function. Assault rifles really, really do exist. They’re a sort of halfway rifle, between the submachine gun (which fires pistol ammo) and the automatic rifle (which uses full power rifle ammo) and practically all militaries of the world now use an assault rifle of some kind as standard issue to regular infantry. They’re also found occasionally among law enforcement and private collectors.

Assault rifles were essentially banned in the U.S. (before they were even invented) by the National Firearms Act of 1934, as modified by the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986.

The thing that does NOT exist is any firearm design known as an “assault weapon”. Notice the difference there; “rifle” verses “weapon”. Sure; a rifle can be used as a weapon, but a weapon is not necessarily a rifle. A “weapon” could be a rock, for example, or a stick, or a fist, et al.

When we’re talking about classifications within the firearm industry, words really, really do mean things. There is no such thing as the firearm classification, “assault weapon”, and therefore no one can define it. When you think about it just a little bit, it makes sense that no one can define it, being that it does not exist.

Just as a politician talking about banning “assault weapons” is only showing his ignorance and therefore disqualifying himself from the discussion, those of you who say there’s no such thing as an “assault rifle” are just as ignorant, or more so. The assault rifle is a significant part of 20th century military and political history, and you seem to have missed the entire story. Please stay out of the conservation until you’ve got it right.

To summarize then;
Assault rifles DO exist. See right here.
Assault weapons (as a firearm design) do NOT exist.

Thank you.

7 thoughts on “Journalist education 99; Assault Rifle

  1. Right.

    Assault Weapon: Legal gollum constructed to ban scary looking guns

    Assault Rifle: A fully automatic military weapon that has essentially been banned since before its creation. (NFA 1936 vs Sturmgewehr in 1944.)

    • That’s NFA ’34. Prohibition “ended”* in December of 1933 and the NFA took effect in January of ’34, so federal agents who were breaking down doors and roughing people up enforcing alcohol prohibition, could stay employed, breaking down doors and roughing people up to enforce the new NFA.

      *We are however still very much in the Prohibition Era though, because it never really went away. Thus we have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (something which should never exist in a free country), plus we now have the various drug enforcement agencies. No, People; Prohibition is still in full force – it only changed its spots a little bit, morphing into something vastly more powerful (and more corrupt) than anything that existed in the 1920s, with all the attendant gang empowerment, graft and loss of liberty.

      I used to say that we failed to learn the lessons of Prohibition, but now I say we learned the lessons very well (or at least the Progressives did) and those lessons are now being applied more slyly and with greater deleterious effect.

      • I thought that drug prohibition was the thing invented to keep feds employed. But sure, the same motives (patronage and racism) seem to apply to both.

  2. Pingback: SayUncle » Assault weapon v. assault rifle

  3. Nitpick Alert: “…stay out of the CONSERVATION…”

    That would be CONVERSATION, yes?

  4. An assault weapon, of course is a weapon used to commit an assault.
    I wonder what assault weapons, besides the lamp in the private quarters of the White house, the Democrat Presidential candidate ever used on the previous President with the last name she’s using now?

    I have in my house an assault rolling pin, an assault skillet, and an assault walking stick (not a sword cane, which is illegal in this state.

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