Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm as guilty as many others in sloppy use of the terms "assault rifle, "assault weapon" etc. We need to tighten up our discussion.  At the current time, one of hotly debated issues is re-instatement of the 1994 federal ban on "assault weapons."

In more casual usage, the term "assault weapon" is sometimes conflated with the term "assault rifle". An assault rifle is a military rifle that utilizes an intermediate-power cartridge, and that generally is capable of full-automatic fire, where multiple rounds are fired continuously when the trigger is pulled one time — that is, a machine gun — or burst capable, where a burst of several rounds is fired when the trigger is pulled one time.[6] In the United States, full-automatic firearms are heavily restricted, and regulated by federal laws such as the National Firearms Act of 1934, as well as some state and local laws.

The use of the term "assault weapon" is also highly controversial, as critics assert that the term is a media invention,[7] or a term that is intended to cause confusion among the public by intentionally misleading the public to believe that assault weapons (as defined in legislation) are full automatic firearms when they are not.[8]

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), or Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, was a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a federal law in the United States that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms, so called "assault weapons". The 10-year ban was passed by Congress on September 13, 1994, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton the same day. The ban only applied to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment.Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired on September 13, 2004, as part of the law's sunset provision. There have been multiple attempts to renew the ban, but no bill has reached the House floor for a vote.
The term, assault weapon, when used in the context of assault weapon laws refers primarily (but not exclusively) to semi-automatic firearms that possess the cosmetic features of an assault rifle that is fully automatic. Actually possessing the operational features, such as 'full-auto', changes the classification from assault weapons to Title II weapons. Merely the possession of cosmetic features is enough to warrant classification as an assault weapon. Semi-automatic firearms, when fired, automatically extract the spent cartridge casing and load the next cartridge into the chamber, ready to fire again. They do not fire automatically like a machine gun. Rather, only one round is fired with each trigger pull.[2]

In the former U.S. law, the legal term assault weapon included certain specific semi-automatic firearm models by name (e.g., Colt AR-15, TEC-9, non-select-fire AK-47s produced by three manufacturers, and Uzis) and other semi-automatic firearms because they possess a minimum set of cosmetic features from the following list of features:

Folding or telescoping stock

Pistol grip

Bayonet mount

Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one

Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device that enables launching or firing rifle grenades, though this applies only to muzzle mounted grenade launchers and not those mounted externally).

Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip

Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor

Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold

Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more

A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.

Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:

Folding or telescoping stock

Pistol grip

Fixed capacity of more than 5 rounds

Detachable magazine."

[In essence, it is a semi-automatic rifle with a detatchable magazine with  certain cosmetic features. Semi-automatic rifles with detatchable magazines without these features were not affected]
The National Rifle Association has referred to the features affected by the ban as cosmetic,[3] as has the gun-hating Violence Policy Center.[4]

In addition, in March 2004, Kristen Rand, the legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, criticized the soon-to-expire ban by stating, "The 1994 law in theory banned AK-47s, MAC-10s, Uzis, AR-15s and other 'assault weapons'. Yet the gun industry easily found ways around the law and most of these weapons are now sold in post-ban models virtually identical to the guns Congress sought to ban in 1994."[5]

Bottom-line: It was a symbolic gesture.

The specific sections were in Title XI, subtitle A, formally known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, but commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban or Semiautomatic Assault Weapons Ban.  I will try to consistently refer to such weapons as "FAWB 1994" assault weapons.    If anyone knows of a better, widely used term, please share.

Source Wikipedia, various articles, incl.(some editing by blogger.)


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