That the fabricated term "assault weapon" has become the household expression for describing a semi-automatic, detachable magazine-fed rifle is a triumph for the virulently anti-gun Violence Policy Center, which has for decades contributed to and exploited the public's lack of knowledge about these guns in order to demonize them, as they've openly acknowledged since 1988:
The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons--anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun--can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
The forcible citizen disarmament lobby, in an amusingly transparent attempt to further cloud the issue, sometimes changes the terminology when the guns are in government hands, referring to these scary "assault weapons" as "patrol rifles," when in the hands of police officers--the exact same firearms get a brand new name when held by the government's hired muscle.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, realizing that by allowing the artificial moniker "assault weapon" to become the default term for these firearms, gun rights advocates had allowed the other side to define the public's perception of them, came up with their own nomenclature. They want us to call them "modern sporting rifles." While no doubt well intentioned, this approach has problems of its own (and has made few inroads with the public, anyway).
Yes, the AR-15 platform can be a very capable hunting arm, and is superb for several other shooting sports. Still, are we to argue that with the Second Amendment, the Founding Fathers devoted 10% of the Bill of Rights to the protection of sport? Why should we surrender any ground to the Nazi-originated notion that guns can be more legitimately restricted if they have no "sporting purpose"?
If the forcible citizen disarmament lobby wants to call them "weapons of war," why not let them? Founding Father Tench Coxe would certainly have been unafraid to do so:
Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ... the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
To deny these arms' utility for combat is to distance them from the central scope of the Second Amendment's function.
So let us instead call them "regime change rifles." In the terrible (and less "unthinkable" every day) event of the rise of a tyrannical regime in the United States, effective fighting arms in the hands of millions of American citizens will be essential for overthrowing it. Furthermore, the banning of such arms will be one of the surest signs that "regime change" has already become necessary.
- The difference between 'assault weapons' and 'patrol rifles'
- So what if they are 'weapons of war'?
- AR-15s have a 'sporting purpose'--but don't need one
- Journalists continue spreading VPC's 'machine gun' confusion
- What do ‘sporting purposes’ have to do with Second Amendment?
- That depends on the game being hunted, Senator Muñoz
- 'Assault weapons,' ('patrol rifles'?), 'Only Ones' and marksmanship